Explain that Henri Matisse was alive when Van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec were. He was born five years after Henri Toulouse-Lautrec but lived much longer. Because Matisse took care of himself and didn't overdo things like Toulouse-Lautrec, he lived a long life of almost 86 years. Matisse began his art career one year after Van Gogh died at the age of 22. He startled the world when he and several other artists had an exhibit of art that took Impressionism one step farther. Colors were very bright and in some cases totally different from the actual colors. For instance, faces had blues and greens in them. (See Woman with the Hat, 1905) People said that it looked like wild beasts painted the paintings. The French word for "wild beasts" is "Fauves." This is how Matisse became known as the father of Fauvism. Henri chose the simple lines of a child and pure color to help us read what he thought.
Show Woman with the Hat and Madame Matisse prints. Ask for a volunteer to be Matisse and a volunteer to have their face painted in colors like the picture. Everyone gathers around to watch "Matisse" paint simple strokes of color such as blue along the nose, forehead, chin, and edge of the face. Orange might be on the cheeks. Tell "Matisse" to only brush around 8 strokes. The student has the option of leaving the paint on all day or washing it off at the end of class. Tell them it comes off with soap and water.
Kraft Paper (or any color you desire). Have this hung on a wall before class.
If possible, a wheel chair
Explain that in 1941 Henri had several operations that left him in a wheelchair. Henri didn't allow for this to get him down. He began to use papier découpé. This is where pieces of paper are colored and then cut out and used to form designs. He would have people hang the colored pieces up for him. This way he could still create art without any strain.
Tell students that they are all Matisses now. They are to cut out large shapes from the colored construction paper. (Leave a variety of paper at each table)
When they are done, students may take turns playing Matisse and people who hang up the shapes. Each student brings their piece up front and before it is glued, it is held up. As soon as the position is satisfactory to "Matisse," it is glued in place on the roll paper. Hopefully an entire wall can be used for this picture. If you have a wheelchair, have the student give directions from the chair.
When finished with all the pieces, ask the class if they are happy with the picture and what they would change if they had to do it over. Ask: Do you think the picture would be different if only one student was Matisse? Did you have a reason for having your helpers placing a shape in a certain area?
Henri Matisse- Prop stories
Two to three colored pieces of paper that have been pre-cut by the teacher to suggest shapes such as a leaf, bug, or flower.
Hand a colored piece of paper (from materials) to a student. That student must make up a story about the shape. Tell them to explain who, what, where, when, and why about the shape. For example, if a shape looks like a leaf, the student might tell about a sick tree who finally lost its last leaf one day and began grieving. When the student is finished, hand a different shape to another student.