de Gilles Néret
This new and carefully conceived freedom marked not only the extraordinary significance of the painter and sculptor Matisse in the history of modern art, but also his influence, which was no less decisive than that of his main rival, Pablo Picasso. In fact, Matisse's stylistic liberation actually goes one step further in the pursuit of his own personal goal - the perfect synthesis of line and colour - by which he sought revolutionary approaches to the great tradition of French painting by drawing upon its classical aspects.
For those who wish to know more about this lodestar of modern art and follow the adventurous path of his creative career, this publication is surely the most comprehensive and informative source available. Lavishly illustrated, its authoritative commentaries trace the artist's search for balance, purity and serenity, from the chromatic brilliance of his Fauve period, through his travels, the Orient, geometric synthesis (it was he who introduced Picasso to African art by giving him his first mask), and the odalisques to the final triumph when, at the age of eigthy, he invented his gouache cut-outs "drawn directly in the paint" that culminated in his illustrations for Jazz and allowed him to achieve his goal of sculpting in paint just as a sculptor works in stone.
These masterpieces reflect Matisse's "sheer joy in painting the beauty of the universe" and mark the various stages in his quest for an earthly paradise in the midst of the twentieth century. The quality of the reproductions in this publication alone make it an indispensable work of reference. Matisse, after all, is widely acknowledged as an artist whose canvases are extremely difficult to reproduce in print. With this in mind, each work presented here has been painstakingly compared with the respective original, in close collaboration with the artist's grandson, Claude Duthuit. The bard of colour deserves no less.