Sophie Matisse was interviewed by BBC TWO on Becoming Matisse and broadcasted on April 25, Saturday, 9:15pm – 10:15pm.
BBC TWO on
Saturday 25 April
Henri Matisse is one of the most beloved painters of the 20th century. Best known for his cut-outs – images that he cut directly from sheets of blazing colour – Matisse wanted his art to transcend the darkness and violence of the modern age. This alone has often seen him written off as a populist crowd-pleaser. Yet what we now tend to forget is that at the beginning of his career, Matisse was a rebel and a revolutionary, one of the first artists to tear up the rules of Western art to bring it into the modern world.
Turning his back on 500 years of academic tradition, he became the first avant-garde artist of the 20th the century and was considered so shocking that he was ridiculed by everyone – by the critics and the public, even by many of his fellow artists. With interviews and animations, and using Matisse’s words (taken from his diaries and letters), this film sees Matisse’s great-granddaughter Sophie Matisse tell the tumultuous story of his early life. Retracing key places and moments in his biography, from Bohain-en-Vermandois (the town of his birth) to Paris (where he moved to try his luck at art school) and Corsica and Collioure (a fishing village on the Spanish border, where he made his artistic breakthrough) – Sophie will look closely at how this period affected his work and how the Matisse we’ve come to know – the master of colour and light – was forged in response to the adversity and public humiliation of his early life. Above all, with special access to family photographs, letters and diaries, she will show that without the support of his immediate family (most notably his wife Amélie and his three children) he would not have become ‘Matisse’, the artist we know and love today.