Unit 1 henri matisse identity compositions in collage
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Unit #1: Henri Matisse: Identity Compositions in Collage. LTC 4240: Art for Children Spring Semester 2013 Lesson Design by Mary Franco. Henri Matisse: Lawyer to Artist. Henri Matisse was born in northern France in 1869. His formal education was in law, but

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Unit #1: Henri Matisse: Identity Compositions in Collage

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Unit #1: Henri Matisse:Identity Compositions in Collage

LTC 4240: Art for Children

Spring Semester 2013

Lesson Design by Mary Franco

Henri Matisse: Lawyer to Artist

Henri Matisse was born in northern

France in 1869.

His formal education was in law, but

was introduced to paintingby his

mother in 1889 while recovering

from appendicitis.

“From the moment I held the box of

colors in my hands, I knew this was my life!”

Henri Matisse

Matisse with his mother, 1889

Henri Matisse: “Wild Beast”

After a summer in St. Tropez in 1904, Matisse’s use of color became more daring, imaginative & expressive.

Matisse he became a leader among a group of like-minded painters called the “fauves” or “wild beasts” by art critics.

On critic stated, "A pot of paint has been flung in the face of the public!” (Tynes, 2010, para. 2)

When exhibited in 1905, “Lady With a Hat” received particularly sharp criticism.

Henri Matisse,

“Lady With a Hat,” 1905

Henri Matisse & Color

Of Matisse, art critic Berger said, “He clashed his colors together like cymbals and the effect was like a lullaby” (cited in Welton, 2002, p. 17)

Of his own work, Matisse stated, “My drawings and my canvases are parts of myself” (cited in Welton, 2002, p. 35)

Henri Matisse

“Luxe, Calme, et Volupte” 1904-1905

Henri Matisse

“Music, 1939”

Henri Matisse

“La Danse II” 1910

Henri Matisse

“Harmony in Red,” 1908-09

Henri Matisse: Triumph from Tragedy

A cancer diagnosis and related surgery in 1941, confined artist Henri Matisse to a wheelchair. He could no longer stand at an easel.

It also represented a creative turning point in the life of the artist

For the next 14 years of his life, he would express his phenomenal creativity and artistic abilities through an art process he called “painting with scissors”.


Mattise, the French artist once identified as a

fauvist painter…

…developed a new ARTIST IDENTITYwith the art of collage.

In the last fourteen years of his life, Matisse “developed his final artistic triumph by cutting into color." (National Gallery of Art, 2013)

Matisse’s Process

  • Matisse’s paintings & paper cuts appear spontaneous and easily executed, but they were not.

  • Constantly worked to reduce a figure, object or scene to its essence

    • Repeatedly sketched & painted

      the same subject until satisfied

    • Sculpted subjects at times to

      resolve design/composition


Henri Matisse, “La DanseI, 1909”

Henri Matisse, “La Danse II, 1910”

Henri Matisse, “La Danse, de Paris , 1931-1933”


  • Design Problem: To create a series of 3 small cut-paper collages that capture the essence of your identity through the use of simple lines, shapes, colors & space.

  • Each composition should not exceed 6” x9” in size. They may be square or rectangular.

  • (Reflect upon “Picture This: How Pictures Work”

    by Bang as you create these small compositions.)


  • Brainstorm 6 things that are important to you & contribute to your IDENTITY; people & pets, favorite pastimes & activities, important places & possessions, etc.

  • Consider a simple image that might represent each. (i.e. a shoe if you jog; an apple if you are from New York!)

  • Make SIMPLE sketches of each; then, select 3 that as most successful; that you like the best.


  • Reconsider each of your 3 favorite sketches

    • Can it be simplified even more?

    • Can it be reduced to a symbol by drawing only a part of it?

    • What one color might it be?

    • How will its relative importance impact its size?

  • Select one color for each & sketch/trace it onto a piece of colored paper.


  • Experiment with arrangements of these three shapes on a background piece of paper. Overlap, rotate, change them until you are satisfied. Then, glue them in place.

  • Self-Assess this first composition & get feedback from peers

    • What works visually?

    • What can you change for the second composition?


  • Repeat this process for Composition #2 & Composition #3.

  • Post one photograph showing your 3 compositions on your Weeby site.

  • Reflect briefly upon these questions & post these reflections w/ the photograph on your Weebly site

    • What do each of the 3 symbols represent?

    • How do they speak to your IDENTITY?

    • Which composition do you feel is most successful & why?

    • How might you use this activity in your own future classroom?


National Gallery of Art (2013). Matisse Cutouts. Retrieved from


Smith, K. S. (xxxx). Pure essence: What makes Matisse great. The National Catholic

Review. Retrieved from http://americamagazine.org/issue/pure-essence

Tynes, T. (2010, July 19). Matisse at MoMA. [Web log]. Walking Off the Big Apple.

Retrieved from http://www.walkingoffthebigapple.com/2010/07/matisse-at


Welton, J. (2002). Artists in their time: Henri Matisse. New York, NY: Scholastic Books.

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