Henri Matisse was a French man that can be regarded as the greatest colorist of the twentieth century. He was a post-impressionist, and was the leading figure of the French movement Fauvism. Fauvism a style of painting with vivid expressionistic and non-naturalistic use of color that flourished in Paris from 1905 and had an important influence on later artists, especially the German expressionists. He once wrote, he wanted to create an art that would be "a soothing, calming influence on the mind, rather like a good armchair." He is also highly regarded as a sculptor not just a painter.
Matisse used pure colors and white on the canvas to create a light-filled atmosphere in his Fauve paintings. He used contrasting areas of pure color. These ideas continued to be important to him throughout his career.
Matisse was heavily influenced by art from other cultures. He saw several exhibitions of Asian art, and traveled to North Africa, he incorporated some of the decorative qualities of Islamic art, the sharpness of African sculpture, and the flatness of Japanese prints into his own style.
Matisse once declared that he wanted his art to be one "of balance, of purity and serenity devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter," this aspiration was an important influence on some artist who looked to art to provide shelter from the confusion of the modern world.
The human figure was central to Matisse's work both in sculpture and painting. It was important for his Fauvist work to reflect his feeling that the subject had been neglected in Impressionism, and it continued to be important to him. At times, he would paint the figure harshly, at other times he treated it almost as a shapely, decorative element. Some of his work reflects the mood and personality of his models, but more often he used them as vehicles for his own feelings, reducing them to symbols in his art.