One of the most important and influential twentieth century French artists, for book illustration as well as for other media…

The Artist and the Book 1860 – 1960


I do not distinguish between the construction of a book and a painting…

Henri Matisse, 1946


Henri Matisse (1869 – 1954) lived through two world wars, the Great Depression, and genocide in Europe and elsewhere, but through it all his influential and extensive body of work expressed no political opinions or ideology. His underlying intention was to produce art “of balance, purity, and serenity,” and from his studio emerged works of extraordinary grace devoid of base worldly concerns.

He was one of the twentieth century’s most influential artists whose œuvre spanned the media of painting, drawing, sculpture, graphic arts, and paper cutouts, and whose subjects included landscape, still life, portraits, interiors and, especially, the female figure. His making of books grew out of the graphic work with which he was involved for over fifty years. Between 1900 and his death he had produced over 800 intaglios, lithographs, woodcuts, linoleum cuts, and monotypes.

He turned to bookmaking only in his sixties, but thereafter much of his graphic work took that form. His first livre d’artiste was Poésies of Stéphane Mallarmé, published in 1932 by Albert Skira in Lausanne. His most famous book is of course Jazz, published by Tériade in 1947, which featured bright pochoir renderings of his paper cutouts.

Matisse’s books remain relevant today. In a recent exhibition at the Walker Art Center in Liverpool, four of his books, Poésies, Jazz, Pasiphaé: Chant de Minos, and Poèmes de Charles d’Orléans were on display and treated as the touchstone for contemporary books done by Derek Boshier, Gilbert & George, Tom Phillips, and Jeff Nutall.


Books with Henri Matisse available from Boreas Fine Art:

[ Matisse, Henri ]  D’Orléans, Charles.  Poèmes de Charles d’Orléans.  Paris: Tériade Éditeur.  1950.



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