Henri Matisse

French Artist Henri Matisse Nude Paintings

The influences of Matisse
Matisse surrounded himself with objects and people that become recurring images within his work. This has enabled the curators to place the blocky bronze Reclining Nude (1907) adjacent to Still Life with Ivy (1916), a painting that includes the Reclining Nude sculpture.

Other works appear to quote, with variations, some of his colleagues. As with other artists of his generation, he was influenced by Cézanne, famous for his blocky, structured still lifes. Matisse painted Still life with green buffet, where the structure is flattened while the perfectly placed fruit seems to levitate into the ether.

French Artist Henri Matisse Nude Painting Dance (II), 1910, 260x391 cm, Eremitaget-la-danse
French Artist Henri Matisse Nude Painting Dance (II), 1910, 260×391 cm, Eremitaget-la-danse

Matisse’s career is a reminder not all artists start young. He was studying law when he suffered from appendicitis. While he was recovering, his mother gave him a paint box and he was seduced by colour.

With Matisse it was always about colour.

One of the earlier works in the exhibition is a portrait of the Italian model Bevilaqua. The sheer intensity of the pure cobalt blue of the shadows around his face show the power of colour that would first bring Matisse to critical attention with the Fauve exhibition in 1905. Then there is the brilliance of The Red Carpets, with contrasting patterns of a flamboyant, intense red.

It may be the impact of the dogmatic Cubists, or perhaps the trauma of World War I muted his tone for some time – Minimalists could learn from the rich black in French Window at Collioure. But colour and sensuous line soon reasserted themselves as his dominant mode.

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