Henri Matisse -- Western Tradition Term Paper

Pages: 3 (931 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Art  (general)

Throughout his long life, his gift for combining colors in unsuspecting ways and for inventing new combinations never ceased, and although he preferred to work in two dimensions, his paintings always conveyed the idea of three dimensional space. One of his closest friends, Geroge Waldemar, once stated that Matisse "knows how to make his spaces eloquent. His lines (are) often fragmentary, but even his spaces seem to speak" (Escholier 119), meaning that Matisse used his great talent to project space on a two-dimensional canvas with startling results.

In an early painting called Le Luxe (1907-08, oil on canvas), the background of sea, hills and sky complement the three nudes figures, and despite their apparent simplicity, demonstrates Matisse's mastery of human anatomy and to some of his contemporaries outside of the Fauvist movement, such distortions and lack of detail were quite unnatural. Thus, it is easy to see that the subject matter in Le Luxe is secondary and was shaped by Matisse's feelings while in the process of composing it.

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A more important painting that best expresses the principles of the Fauvist movement is his Red Room (1908-09, oil on canvas) in which he used color to express his own decorative needs. This composition consists mostly of juxtaposed vivid colors and straight lines and though the planes of this picture seem to resolve into a single flat spread, the directional lines and the variation in the strength of the colors suggest front and rear, although somewhat ambiguous. Matisse himself always believed that color must correspond with shape until the correct balance is achieved, and through this method, the sensitivity and instinct of the artist serves as the guiding principle for relaying emotions onto a canvas.

Term Paper on Henri Matisse -- Western Tradition Assignment

Much modern art is now based on severely limited ideals and often require some understanding of the artists's relationship to contemporary currents of thought. Despite the fact that Matisse sometimes intellectualized his paintings, his art reflects a great love for nature, color and often happy subjects. He often expressed his displeasure over weighty themes and moods and thought that art should be more restful and comfortable to the human eye. For this reason, the art of Matisse is often viewed as being too decorative and lacking in profound ideas. But this view subtracts from the special qualities of his paintings which overall expresses simplicity, serenity and clarity of thought. And as the premier Fauvist of his time, the works of Matisse


represent the ultimate removal from the Western pictorial traditions and allow the viewer to see into the very soul and heart of a truly influential and innovative artist.


Chipp, Herschel B. Theories of Modern Art. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1968.

Escholier, Raymond. Matisse: A Portrait… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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