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200 × 130 × 20 mm
224 pages
60 illustrations
15 Mar 2021
Critical Lives

Henri Matisse Kathryn Brown

Henri Matisse’s experiments with form and colour revolutionized the twentieth-century art world. In this concise critical biography Kathryn Brown explores Matisse’s long career, beginning with his struggles as a student in Paris and culminating in his celebrated use of paper cut-outs and stained glass in the last decade of his life. The book challenges various myths about Matisse and offers a fresh perspective on his creativity and legacy. Chapters explore the artist’s enthusiasm for fashion and cinema, his travels, personal ties, interest in African art, love of literature and willingness to challenge audience expectations. Through close readings of Matisse’s works, Brown offers new insight into the artist’s friendships and battles with dealers, critics, collectors and fellow artists.

‘Kathryn Brown's lucid and sophisticated text presents the great modernist, Henri Matisse, as a highly experimental artist who drew on an exceptionally wide range of visual sources and yet was also a shrewd marketing man, carefully managing his public identity and surrounding himself with a constellation of supportive poets and writers. Bolstered by astute summaries of the current critical debates around Matisse and sensitive formal analyses of the artist's work, Brown's book is the best short biography of Matisse available.’ — Simon Kelly, curator of modern and contemporary art, Saint Louis Art Museum

‘An insightful addition to Matisse’s scholarship [and] a true page-turner, written in an engaging style, this study is a multi-layered analysis of Matisse’s career. It focuses on Matisse’s talent to shape his own transnational public image as one of the first internationally famous artists of the twentieth century.’ — Véronique Chagnon-Burke, Academic Director, Christie’s Education

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Kathryn Brown is a Senior Lecturer in art history at Loughborough University, UK. Her books include Women Readers in French Painting 1870–1890 (2012), Matisse’s Poets: Critical Performance in the Artist’s Book (2017) and (as editor) Digital Humanities and Art History (2020).