Henri Matisse was a French painter, sculptor and printmaker. Matisse explored a wide variety of printmaking techniques including: lithography, etching, drypoint, aquatint, pochoir, linocut, screenprinting and woodblock. For Matisse, printmaking was not only a means of production but also an essential part of his artistic process.
The Afternoon. 1941-1942. Linocut. Bibliotheque Nationale. Paris.
It is believed that Matisse completed more than 800 print editions over the course of his career. Many of his prints depict portraits, nudes, or colorful motifs. His style ranges from formal and figurative to more abstract and modernist.
White Mask on Dark Background. 1949-50. Aquatint
Odalisque with striped pants. 1925. Lithograph. Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris
Mourlot Poster. 1959. Lithograph
Matisse’s collaboration with Fernand Mourlot is believed to have greatly escalated the popularity of fine art printmaking in France. Mourlot Studios or Atelier Mourlot) was the largest producer of graphic posters and later invited artists to create original fine art print editions. Mourlot Studios started after printing a lithographic poster for Matisse in 1937.
In recent years, many museums and libraries have recognized Matisse’s contribution to the graphic arts by curating exhibitions that solely showcase the artist’s prints. Admiration for Matisse’s prints has led the re-printing of several editions as well as the release of several limited edition prints. While the newer editions are not as valuable, first edition prints, original printings of posters and illustrated books continue to be hold value in the art market.