A Contemplative Look At Henri Matisse Essay — страница 2

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planes, came about first through the influence of the French painters Paul Gauguin and Paul Cezanne and the Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh, whose work he studied closely beginning about 1899. Then, in 1903 and 1904, Matisse encountered the pointillist painting of Henri Edmond Cross and Paul Signac. Cross and Signac were experimenting with juxtaposing small strokes (often dots or points ) of pure pigment to create the strongest visual vibration of intense color. Matisse adopted their technique and modified it repeatedly, using broader strokes. Matisse became Neo-Impressionistic, using both colors and shapes boldly. His later work emphasized the saturation of color and a simplicity of lines. In several works, he exhibits a plasticity of forms that complements his simplistic and

saturated use of color. In some of his paintings, he transposed patterns which diminished the sense of space in his work. By 1905 he had produced some of the boldest color images ever created, including a striking picture of his wife, “Green Stripe.” The title refers to a broad stroke of brilliant green that defines Madame Matisse’s brow and nose. In the same year Matisse exhibited this and similar paintings along with works by his artist companions, including Andre Derain and Maurice de Vlaminck. Together, the group was dubbed Les Fauves (literally, the wild beasts ) because of the extremes of emotionalism in which they seemed to have indulged, their use of vivid colors, and their distortion of shapes. While he was regarded as a leader of radicalism in the arts, Matisse

was beginning to gain the approval of a number of influential critics and collectors, including the American expatriate writer Gertrude Stein and her family. Among the many important commissions he received was that of a Russian collector who requested mural panels illustrating dance and music (both completed in 1911; now in the Hermitage, Saint Petersburg). Such broadly conceived themes ideally suited Matisse; they allowed him freedom of invention and play of form and expression. His images of dancers, and of human figures in general, convey expressive form first and the particular details of anatomy only secondarily. Matisse extended this principle into other fields; his bronze sculptures, like his drawings and works in several graphic media, reveal the same expressive contours

seen in his paintings. Matisse sculpted in clay and ceramics as well. He also ran an art academy for three years. In 1908, Matisse published “Notes d’un Peintre” which embodied his personal statement as an artist. Although intellectually sophisticated, Matisse always emphasized the importance of instinct and intuition in the production of a work of art. He argued that an artist did not have complete control over color and form; instead, colors, shapes, and lines would come to dictate to the sensitive artist how they might be employed in relation to one another. He often emphasized his joy in abandoning himself to the play of the forces of color and design and he explained the rhythmic, but distorted, forms of many of his figures in terms of the working out of a total

pictorial harmony. After World War I, however, his work began to deepen. He experimented with the effects of light and shadow, and he played around with ambiences and moods, slowly trying to perfect them. At this point, his paintings, perhaps best defined by “Odlaisque With Red Culottes”, can be compared to such artists as Eugene Delacroix and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. By the mid-1920s, Matisse was sick of this style as well. He tried to mold himself back into his prewar style, with attempts such as the painting, Decorative Figure on an Ornamental Ground. By the mid-1930s, he consciously began to reconceive the forms inside his paintings. Instead of traditional storytelling pictures, they became a gathering of signs within an abstract space. One of the earliest recorded

mentionings of the meanings of signs was in January 1932, when he said, “a great painter is someone who finds personal and lasting signs that express in plastic terms the spirit of his vision.” Instead of pictures, his art began transforming itself in symbolic representations. This had not been true earlier in his career, when signs were supposedly fluid and constantly changing. In earlier works, the signs had to be constantly reinvented for each part of the painting. The picture was built up in terms of a balancing of signs. Each brushstroke had the potential of acting as a small sign that fit in with the grand scheme of the larger sign of the painting. But, as Matisse’s work matured, so did his conception of signs. During the 1930’s, he tried to stabilize and