Erika Holmquist-Wall is Assistant Curator and Provenance Specialist in the department of paintings at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. She is also Exhibition Curator for this venue on the National Tour of Matisse: Masterworks from the Baltimore Museum of Art.
Henri Matisse was definitely one of the most important and influential artists of the 20th century. And when you see pictures of Matisse, he’s kind of like this kindly gent, he is kind of like your grandfather with his little suit and his glasses and his little white beard. He comes across as kindly even though he has this incredibly intense side to him. He is completely involved in what he’s doing. He gives himself entirely to it, he can’t tear himself away from it. Although he was trained as a lawyer and started working in a law firm, he never really fit into being a lawyer. He actually said “I just got really tired of listening to other people’s quarrels.” And in his early 20s he had a bout of appendicitis which confined him to his bed. His mother actually purchased him a box of paints, and that was it for him, it changed everything.
The moment I had this box of colors in my hand, I had the feeling that my life was there. It was a great allurement, a kind of paradise in which I was completely free, alone, tranquil. Before, nothing interested me. After that I had nothing on my mind, but painting.
Male Speaker 1
Press the green button to learn how Henri Matisse was a radical innovator in modern art. Katherine Rothkopf is Curator of European Painting and Sculpture at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Select the red button and she’ll introduce you to Sisters Etta and Claribel Cone. To hear from Matisse in his own words, choose the yellow button.