Research Paper: Henri Matisse Still Life

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VI. Concept of Visual Equilibrium

Matisse writes that if he were to paint upon a white canvas "some sensations of blue, of green, or red, each new stroke diminish the importance of the preceding ones." (1908) The concept of visual equilibrium is addressed in the work of Matisse who states as follows on painting an interior:

"I have before me a cupboard; it gives me a sensation of vivid red, and I put down a red which satisfies me. A relation is established between this red and the white of the canvas. Let me put a green near the red, and make the floor yellow; and again there will be relationships between the green or yellow and the white of the canvas, which will satisfy me. But these different tones mutually weaken one another. It is necessary that the various marks I use be balanced so that they do not destroy each other. To do this I must organize my ideas; the relationships between the tones must be such that it will sustain and not destroy them. A new combination of colors will succeed the first and render the totality of my representation. I am forced to transpose until finally my picture may seem completely changed when, after successive modifications, the red has succeeded the green as the dominant color." (Matisse, 1908)

VII. Analysis of the Form, Light, Texture, and Color

In order to understand the use of color and texture in the painting under review in this particular work in writing the work entitled "Notes of a Painter" written in 1908 by Matisse is reviewed. In that work Matisse stated that expression for him "… does not reside in passions glowing in a human face or manifested by violent movement. The entire arrangement of my picture is expressive: the place occupied by the figures, the empty spaces around them, the proportions, everything has its share. Composition is the art of arranging in a decorative manner the diverse elements at the painter's command to express his feelings." (1908)

Matisse states that in each picture that every part "will be visible and play its appointed role, whether it be principal or secondary. Everything that is not useful in the picture is, it follows harmful. A work of art must be harmonious in its entirety…." (1908) According to Matisse both "…harmonies and dissonances of color can produce agreeable effects." (1908)

As in all of his works, Matisse used pure colors and the white of exposed canvas that created a light filled environment. The contrasting used by Matisse was areas of pure color that were unmodulated instead of modeling or shading to give volume and structure to his paintings. (The Art Story, paraphrased) The use of color and pattern by Matisse is described as being "deliberately disorienting and unsettling." (The Art Story, 2011)

Matisse's art is reported as important in the endorsement of "…the value of decoration in modern art." (The Art Story, 2011) Matisse is reported to have once declared that he wanted his art to be one defined by "balance…purity…serenity…devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter." (The Art Story, 2011)

Matisse states on his choice of colors that that choice is not dependent on any type of "scientific theory" but instead is based "on observation, on sensitivity, on felt experiences." (1908) Matisse states that he tries to put down colors on the canvas "which render my sensation. There is an impelling proportion of tones that may lead me to change the shape of a figure or to transform my composition. Until I have achieved this proportion in all the parts of the composition I strive towards it and keep on working. Then a moment comes when all the parts have found their definite relationships, and from then on it would be impossible for me to add a stroke to my picture without having to repaint it entirely." (Matisse, 1908)

XI. Unity and Harmony

Unity and harmony are addressed by Matisse as well who states that a composition has the aim of "expression" and that expression

"is modified according to the surface to be covered. If I take a sheet of paper of a given size, my drawing will have a necessary relationship to its format. I would not repeat this drawing on another sheet of different proportions, for example, rectangular instead of square. Nor should I be satisfied with a mere enlargement, had I to transfer the drawing to a sheet the same shape, but ten times larger. A drawing must have an expansive force, which gives life to the things around it. An artist who wants to transpose a composition from one canvas to another larger one must conceive it anew in order to preserve its expression; he must alter its character and not just square it up onto the larger canvas." (Matisse, 1908)

This is the case in the painting Still Life after Jan Davidsz. de Heem's 'La Desserte' as the still life is balanced and the colors are harmonious with one another. The colors flow and carrying the eye of the viewer smoothly across the content of the painting and a feeling of warmth and expectance is experienced by the viewer of the painting Still Life after Jan Davidsz. de Heem's 'La Desserte'

Summary and Conclusion

The work of Henri Matisse entitled Still Life after Jan Davidsz. de Heem's 'La Desserte' has been examined in this study and the various characteristics that are central to the work of Matisse examined as well. Matisse used color to construct objects in his paintings and used color in a balanced and rational way. Also used were light and shadows in his painting to lend expression and warmth to the painting.

References

Chipp, Herschel Browning (2011) Theories of Modern Art: A Source Book by Artists and Critics. Google Books.

Cubism (2005) Alexander Boguslawski. Retrieved from: http://tars.rollins.edu/Foreign_Lang/Russian/cubism.html

Green, Tyler (2010) Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-17: Enter Juan Gris. Modern Art Notes. 7 Oct 2010. ARTINFO. Retrieved from: http://blogs.artinfo.com/modernartnotes/2010/10/matisse-radical-invention-1913-17-enter-juan-gris/

Green, Tyler (2010) Matisse; Radical Invention, 1913-1917 Enter juan Gris 7 Oct 2010. Modern Art Notes. ARTINFO. Retrieved from:

Henri, Matisse (2011) The Art Story -- Guide to Modern Art. Retrieved from: http://www.theartstory.org/artist-matisse-henri.htm

Levin, Ann (2010) MoMA's Radical Invention Studies Matisse's Craft. Lifestyle. Taiwan News. 17 Jul 2010. Retrieved from: http://www.taiwannews.com.tw/etn/news_content.php?id=1321001

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