Matisse and His Love for Fabric

Matisse in his bed. You can see in this photo by Robert Capa how Matisse put up fabric on his walls like hanging a picture.

Henri Matisse (1869-1954) was born and raised in the northern area of France whose main industry was textiles.  He lived near the city of Bohain, at that time, renowned as a producer of luxury fabrics and supplied fabrics to the top end of the Paris fashion trade. Matisse’s family on his father’s side were weavers.  Most probably, this was the birth of his love of textiles.

However, it seems that his home region had no interest in art outside of its textile industry.  They seemed to view textiles as just another way to make money, and didn’t consider it art related.  Matisse found his home-town milieu artistically suffocating and moved to Paris as soon as he could, which was when he was 20.  He later settled in the South of France where he loved the bright colors and warm weather.  (Personally, that’s about the only thing I like about L.A.)

The Pink Studio by Matisse 2011
The Pink Studio by Matisse 2011

You can see in many of his paintings the opulent use of fabric and design.  He was also very interested in fashion, including Paris’s high fashion industry.  He had a private collection of interesting fabric and clothes that he found in places like thrift stores and flea markets. (I can relate to this.)

The pictures below show how he utilized fabric and design in his paintings.

Still-life with a Red Rug, 1906.  This painting is about fabric.
This painting named The Manila Shawl (1911) shows his love for brightly colored costumes, something he collected.  This painting looks as though this woman is modeling her shawl.
This painting called The Green Romanian Blouse (1939) (however, the blouse looks blue to me) seems to be  more about the blouse than the woman.  Even so, he was such a great artist that one can know the personality of this woman from his simple sketch of her face and posture.  Looking at this woman, I feel that I would know exactly how she would sound if she spoke. That
Interior: Flowers and Parakeets (1924)–Look at how many fabrics are in this picture. That was his taste in interior design. The bright colors are indicative of his love for the South of France.

“I do not literally paint that table, but the emotion it produces upon me.”
–Henri Matisse

Reference: Matisse His Art and His Textilesthe Fabric of Dreams Published by the Royal Academy of Art

Since I wrote this post, I made new curtains for my living room with a more exotic fabric. Matisse lives.

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