Les Mille et Une Nuits (1950)

Henri Matisse's "Les Mille et Une Nuits" is a captivating masterpiece that demonstrates the artist's exceptional talent for color and form. Painted in 1950, this work is a representation of the rich cultural heritage of the Middle East and North Africa, a region that captured Matisse's imagination for many years.

Delve into the history and significance of this incredible painting

Henri Matisse, born in 1869 in northern France, is widely regarded as one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. Throughout his career, he explored a wide range of innovative styles and techniques, and his works are known for their bold use of color and innovative forms.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Matisse was particularly drawn to the exotic cultures of the Middle East and North Africa, and this fascination is reflected in many of his works from this period.

henri matisse les mille et une nuits

Thus, "Les Mille et Une Nuits" is a perfect example of Matisse's fascination with the Middle East. This large, colorful painting depicts a scene from the famous collection of Arabian tales known as the "Thousand and One Nights."
The painting is characterized by the use of bright, bold colors and simplified flat shapes. Matisse skillfully uses color here to create a sense of movement and energy; the shapes are simple and exaggerated, and give the painting a fairy tale feel.

What is certainly most striking in this painting is the way Matisse used color to create depth and perspective. The background is pale, and contrasts with the bright colors of the figures in the foreground: bright yellow, green, blue, red... The figures are placed on a background of complex patterns and shapes reminiscent of traditional Islamic decorative arts. The combination of these elements creates a sense of movement and energy, giving the impression that the figures are dancing and swirling on the canvas.

In addition to its vibrant use of color, characteristic of Matisse's work, "The Thousand and One Nights" is also notable for its cultural significance. The painting is a tribute to the rich cultural heritage of the Middle East and North Africa, and reflects Matisse's deep interest in and admiration for the art, literature and history of the region. 

Maison Matisse's reinterpretation

In 2022, Maison Matisse has chosen to dedicate one of its collections to this iconic work of the painter.
First revisited by the Italian design duo Formafantasma, who created our limited edition FOLD collection, which was itself inspired by Matisse's paper cut-outs, the painting becomes a set of candleholders and centerpieces in folded metal. The colors and pure lines of each piece are taken directly from the work, paying homage to the painter's work.

formafantasma design henri matisse

In January 2023, Maison Matisse honors the work again, but this time in collaboration with French designer Guillaume Delvigne. Desk accessories, stools and cork shelves are adorned with the colors of the work's palette, and offer a personal reinterpretation of the forms present in the painting. The cuts of the painter are declined in three dimensions through the almost "uneven" lines of the pieces, letting imagine the passage of the artist's hand. 

guillaume delvigne design henri matisse