Heroes – Henri Matisse

La Musée Matisse

This is the first in a series of posts about heroes. If you have a hero and you would like to write about them in a guest post for this blog, just drop me a line and we’ll take it from there.

On a recent trip to the Cote d’Azur we visited La Musée Matisse, a beautiful building in Cimiez, Nice, dedicated to the creative genius Henri Matisse. It was a stunningly hot, sunny day and the red plaster coated building shone gloriously (I attempted to capture some of that brightness in the above sketch, an early picture from my learning to paint experiment). My wife Carole introduced me to the work of Matisse several years ago and we’ve long been looking forward to this day.

Matisse female portrait
Matisse female portrait

The museum contains all kinds of wonder. Paintings, sculptures, models, drawings – fabulously simple, beautiful drawings. Their simplicity hides years of practice.

The scale of some of Matisse’s works is awesome. The wonderful Dance II commissioned by the Barnes Foundation is a triptych mural 15 feet high and 45 feet long.

Later in life, Matisse designed stunning stained glass windows for a small chapel in Vence. They flood an otherwise white space with beautiful blues and yellows.

As he aged Matisse became ill and could no longer paint. You would forgive him for calling it a day and sitting back to admire his vast catalogue of work in his twilight years. And you wouldn’t need to.

Confined to his bed, Matisse continued to create great art using cut outs. Some of his most famous and stunning work was created in this final phase. The Snail is almost three metres square. It’s part of the Tate collection and I think it’s simply beautiful. This tiny image doesn’t begin to do the picture justice – please go and see it for yourself. Excellence doesn’t need to be complicated.

Matisse snail
Matisse snail

I love Matisse’s work. And what I love most of all is his adaptability. I imagine him thinking, ‘Can’t get out of bed to paint anymore? No problem, let’s make cutouts. I can design and cut them and my team can arrange the pieces just so’. Matisse’s drive to adapt in the face of adversity is inspiring, what a creative leader.

What heroics could you and your team achieve with a little of Matisse’s adaptability?

4 thoughts on “Heroes – Henri Matisse”

  1. I was never captured by academics in my youth, but Art was something i found irresistible and consequently studied art history. I went to see the Dali museum which was inspirational – just love his work.

    I went inter-railing for 3 months on my own in my early thirties and made art and galleries central to the journey. I remember spending the whole day in the Louvre, soaking up the experience.

    Some years later, in an effort to stimulate thinking at work, i went with my colleagues to the Saatchi exhibition before it went up in smoke. It was such an incredibly diverse range of expression and proved an amazingly effective catalyst to innovative thinking.

    Keep painting and sharing Doug – you are an inspiration to us all.

    1. What a great tale Gareth, and I’m right with you on using art as a catalyst, for all sorts of things. It’s a part of making work better for sure.

      I might have to frame your last line – that’s a very kind and motivating thing to write. Cheers!

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