Henri Matisse masterpiece – Chapelle du Rosaire

Enjoyed a BBC Modern Masters programme on Henri Matisse last night. Having studied art history at university, I was familiar enough with Matisse’s work. His career took a familiar enough path — proving competency by producing works of contemporary techniques, then exploring the boundaries to find your unique creative genius.

For most people, this concludes with familiarity with Matisse’s famous cutouts, which he did late in his career.

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But I was unprepared to discover that right at the end of his life, he spent four years designing and having built a chapel in Vence, outside Nice, France, that represented a culmination of all of his work.

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The Chapelle du Rosaire truly is a masterpiece. On one side of the chapel are the stations of the cross, done in his thick, black line, essentialist style. Opposite are bold and bright stained glass windows, with shapes akin to his paper cutouts.

What struck me was the brilliant illumination of the blue, yellow and green window panes. It is a perfect epitome of his thesis of bold colours.

It left me wondering what other great works may we have been blessed with, if Matisee has applied his style to other stained glass and architectural projects.

I’d be interested to learn if any other contemporary artist has taken this up, where Matisse left off.

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