Matisse in bloom

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Get out your scissors, here’s four fabulous new books about French artist Henri Matisse.

Henri Matisse lived in Nice for many years, and when you visit the Cote d’Azur, step into his shoes, and close your eyes. Imagine when he arrived for the first time more, and saw brightly colored houses and the sparkling Mediterranean. And imagine Matisse in his studio, snipping away with scissors to make his famous shapes from colored paper – girl skipping rope, blue mermaid in a seaweed garden, white birds flying in both sky and sea. Then open your eyes.

Matisse loved color – discovering how two colors look next to each other, how color conveys feelings, changes with the light, and expresses freedom. He not only created paintings, drawings, sculpture, stained glass windows, but Matisse took ordinary paper, and made something completely new and fresh.

  • Meet the Artist: Henri Matisse by Patricia Geis. Pop-up biography of Henri Matisse, from the time he held a paint box and knew it was his life, to paintings of pink oceans and yellow houses, and in later years, giant colorful paper cutouts. Not just events in the artist’s life, find out about Matisse’s love of dance, music, travel, his studio. Be sure to pick up the goldfish, and look through its eye – what do you see? (Activity book)
  • The Iridescence of Birds by Patricia MacLachlan, Hadley Hooper. Matisse is a small boy, living in a northern French town with gray skies. His mother paints ceramic plates with meadows and birds, and Matisse helps mix the colors. There’s also fruit and flowers, red rugs on the walls at home, pigeons that change with the light. Is it a surprise when Matisse grew up, he painted “red rooms, and flowers that danced on green stems.” Original gorgeous illustrations, Matisse would be delighted. (Picture book)
  • Matisse’s Garden by Samantha Friedman, Cristina Amodeo. It all started when Matisse cut a white bird out of a piece of paper, then he added more birds, and a blue sky and sea background. Two page fold-outs and fabulous cut-paper illustrations, kids will want to immediately get out scissors, collect all the construction paper around your house, and start creating their own garden! (Picture book)
  • Meet Matisse by Jean-Vincent Senac. What really stands out about this book by a French illustrator, is it brilliantly combines the artist Matisse with how to draw, look at color, find colors that go together, see how the same shapes look different on colored backgrounds, and when taking up scissors “do not cut the oranges and red in the same way as the greens or blues.” And if you don’t like the result of your picture, start a new one. (Picture book)

Matisse artworks are in museums all over the world. Where to find the big collections of Matisse – check out the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg Russia (it has a whole room just for Matisse) and New York Museum of Modern Art.

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