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Matisse and Color

Online / Understanding Materials and Techniques

Wednesdays, November 9 – December 7, 4 – 6pm


Henri Matisse. Standing Figure (detail), 1906. BF84. © 2022 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

$220; members $198
(4 classes; no class November 23)

About the Class

“From the moment I held the box of colors in my hands, I knew this was my life. I threw myself into it like a beast that plunges towards the thing it loves.” ―Henri Matisse

Matisse was enthralled by color and pattern. Color was an expressive life force for the artist whether it was opaque, transparent, saturated, or subtly nuanced. In this class, we will examine how Matisse created a wholly new way of using color—a style that became known as fauvism. We’ll trace the artist’s experiences of color and light in North Africa and examine his portrayals of beautiful women, exotic locations, textiles, and objects in and around Nice in the 1920s. We’ll also consider The Dance, the ambitious mural at the Barnes completed in 1932–33, as the catalyst for a change in Matisse’s painting practice, propelling him toward collage and design, culminating in his stained glass work at the Vence Chapel.

The class is online-only. More about online classes.


Henri Matisse. Standing Figure, 1906. BF84. © 2022 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


Michael Williamson

A member of the Barnes faculty, Williamson studied at Yale University and the Milton Avery Graduate School of Bard College. He taught art history and studio art for nearly 30 years at Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia. Williamson has an active art practice and has shown his paintings locally.

Understanding Materials and Techniques

Understanding Materials and Techniques courses explore the physical aspects of how art is made. You will look closely at artistic materials, techniques, and processes, all of which are essential to understanding how art produces meaning.