Fauvism, style of painting that flourished in France around the turn of the 20th century. Fauve artists used pure, brilliant colour aggressively applied straight from the paint tubes to create a sense of an explosion on the canvas. The leader of the group was Henri Matisse, who had arrived at the Fauve style after experimenting with the various Post-Impressionist approaches of Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, and Georges Seurat. Matisse’s studies led him to reject traditional renderings of three-dimensional space and to seek instead a new picture space defined by movement of colour. Matisse used colour for its own sake. He exhibited his famous Woman with the Hat (1905) at the 1905 exhibition. In this painting, brisk strokes of colour—blues, greens, and reds—form an energetic, expressive view of the woman. The crude paint application, which left areas of raw canvas exposed, was appalling to viewers at the time. This likeness of Matisse’s wife is a case in point. It transforms her face into a mask divided in the middle by a green stripe, abstracting her features and the wall behind her into a chromatic jigsaw puzzle.

Woman with the Hat. 1905

Portrait of Madame Matisse (The green line). 1905

Dance (1), 1909.
This is among the first of Matisse’s works that can be immediately recognised as his. In it, his brushwork becomes flatter, looser and more fluid. Originally commission by a Russian industrialist named Sergei Shchukin for his palatial home in in Moscow, Dance (I) is one of the artist’s most famous and beloved works.

La Blouse Roumaine. 1940

Memory of Oceania. 1952-53

Blue Nude II. 1952
After 1948 Matisse was prevented from painting by ill health but, although confined to bed, he produced a number of works known as gouaches découpées. These were made by cutting or tearing shapes from paper which had been painted with gouache. The shapes were placed and pasted down by an assistant working under Matisse's instruction.

Among the last works Matisse created before his death, Memory of Oceania is based on an old photograph taken in 1930 of a schooner in Tahiti. t’s thought by some art historians that Memory of Oceania were responses to the large-scale abstraction coming out the United States at the time, particularly Abstract Expressionism.

Some of the later ones, such as The Snail, were of very large dimensions. The technique, explored in his picture book Jazz (published 1947) and other works, opened up new possibilities for him. Matisse said of the technique that it 'allows me to draw in the colour. It is a simplification for me. Instead of drawing the outline and putting the colour inside it - the one modifying the other - I draw straight into the colour' (quoted in Amis de l'art, October 1951).

The Snail. 1953