Henri Matisse: Portrait Paintings
Also known as “Portrait of Madame Matisse, is another portrait by Henri Matisse depicting his wife. The green stripe in the middle of the oil painting from which the title of the artwork derives, separates the face of Amélie Matisse.
This painting is an early example of Matisse’s understanding of color and light: The artist did not see light and shadow as dark and light spaces in a painting but defined them as spaces of different shades of color. With these shades and small spaces, he designed a lot of his paintings.
Matisse and Fauvism
Henri Matisse’s work exudes bright, pure color and expressive form and composition. This was the epitome of the Fauvist style, the art movement led by Matisse which was defined by bright colors striving for strong emotional reactions. When creating his works, he simplifies figures, combining this with brushwork that is energetic and unblended, leaving each brushstroke visible. There is no shading to imply any three-dimensionality. Instead, he uses flat color and line to capture pure mood and emotion. Examine these two works by Henri Matisse to see how they fall into Fauvism.
Matisse’s Femme au Chappeau (Woman with a Hat), painted when he was 36, caused an uproar when it was first displayed. The painting was a portrait of his wife, and upon first glance, he used typical composition to create the piece. Her position, clothing, and expression were all typical of a portrait of this time, but what caused the controversy was the manner in which he painted it. This was a prime example of what to expect from Matisse: conventional subject matter executed in an unconventional way. He rejected natural color, instead using pure swatches of blues, greens and purples to paint her figure and background. His main objective for this piece was to elicit an emotional response, not paint a likeness of his wife.
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