Fauvism And Matisse

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  • 1. FAUVISM The Wild Beasts1904-07 Fauvism in Context and Henri Matisse


  • FAUVISM Context
  • The term fauve is French for wild beast.
  • It was first used by a critic in Paris in 1905 to deride the work of a group of artists who used colour and paint with great freedom; distorting the natural appearance of their subjects.Their ideas were similar to post-Impressionist like Gauguin and Van Gogh, but their use of colours were much more loose.
  • Although the Fauve artists shared many interests and ideas for a short period (1904-07), they were never a formal group and each worked in a highly individual style.


  • FAUVISM Context
  • 1905 was the year that the Salon dAutomne happened.
  • Critics saw the canvases in front of them not as art, but rather as an explosion of violence on the canvas.
  • As one critic, Camille Mauclair, said [It is] a pot of colours flung in the face of the public.
  • Fauvism came via three principal groups:
    • Students of Moreaus studio and the Acadmie Carrire (Matisse, Camoin, Manguin, Puy).
    • Two from Chatou: Vlamich and Derain.
    • Three from Le Harve: Friesz, Dufy, Braque.
  • Matisse became the leader of these young artists because of his prestige, outgoingness, and age.


  • Henri Mattisse (1869-1954)
  • The Master of Colour
  • He was born in Picardy, northern France and did not delve into art until he was 20 (he was initially going to study law.
  • He moved to Paris to study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and in Moreaus studio.
  • His mentor said to Matisse that, You are going to simplify painting.
  • Matisse was slower and more methodical in his approach to art where he focused his study on light and texture within a limited palette.This allowed him to later overcome problems of colour and surface patterning.


  • Matisse's art has an astonishing force and lives by innate right in a paradise world into which Matisse draws all his viewers. He gravitated to the beautiful and produced some of the most powerful beauty ever painted.
  • He was a man of anxious temperament and fears. He dealt with his disturbances through the sublimation of painting. Matisse coaxed his nervous tension into serenity through his art.
  • He spoke of his art as being like "a good armchair"-- a ludicrously inept comparison for such a brilliant man-- but his art was a respite, a reprieve, and a comfort to him .
  • Matisse has left Moreaus studio for a short while to study abroad and when he returned his mentor was no longer there, so he took to the museums and streets and painted the world he was a part of.
  • Most interesting is that he lived through traumatic political events, the worst wars, the most demented rivalries of ideology yet he never made an expression of political opinion anywhere in his art or writings.

6. Gustav Moreau,The Apparition1891 Gustav Moreau,Salom 1876 7.

  • Gustave Moreau
  • Moreau was a French Symoblist painter, whopainted literary ideas (espcially from the Bible) rather than visual images.
  • Moreau is quoted as saying:
    • "I am dominated by one thing, an irresistible, burning attraction towards the abstract. The expression of human feelings and the passions of man certainly interest me deeply, but I am less concerned with expressing the motions of the soul and mind than to render visible, so to speak, the inner flashes of intuition which have something divine in their apparent insignificance and reveal magic, even divine horizons, when they are transposed into the marvellous effects of pure plastic art."

8. Henri Matisse,Luxe, calm et volupte , 1904, Oil on canvas, 98 by 118.5cm 9.

  • Luxe, calm et volupte
  • Shows the influence of post-impressionism in particular his friend Signac but also the pointillism of Seurat.
  • Juxtaposition of dots or small strokes of primary colours methodically laid on canvas, his canvases are very composed and ordered.
  • Subtle combination of pinks, yellows and blues. He has not yet made the jump to the wild use of colours that the Fauves came to be known for.
  • This painting was done in his Paris studio and was a break for Matisse from his dark period of 1902-03.
  • Uses only the essentials of line and colour.

10. Paul Signac , Port St. Tropez ,1899 Henri Matisse,Luxe, calm et volupte , 1904

  • Nudes drastically simplified so that they take on a purely decorative function.
  • Questions the landscape tradition. Decorative rather than descriptive role.

11. Paintings from Matisses Dark Period The Luxembourg Gardens.c. 1901-2.Studio under the Eaves.1903.Still Life with Vase, Bottle and Fruit.c. 1903-6 12. 1905 and the Salon dAutomne Open Window, Collioure.1905 Woman with a Hat.1905 13. La Japonaise: Woman beside the Water , 1905.35 x 28 cm. Madame Matisse , The Green Line, 1905. 40 x 32cm 14.

  • The Open Window
  • Painting of this period search for an equilibrium between nature and the imagination, and expression through balance and harmony.
  • It demonstrates a balance of interior/exterior space first and second a balance of colour.This is aparent in the framing of the exterior scene by the interior window frame.
  • It suggests purity and serenity devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter. Think of it as art for the mental worker.
  • Matisse said of his art of this period:
  • I had the sensation of colouring an object. This enabled me to set down the first colour on the canvas. I would then add a second colour, and then, instead of painting it out when the second colour did not seem to go well with the first, I would add a third one intending to harmonise them.


  • The Green Line
  • Her oval face is bisected with a slash of green and her coiffure, purpled and top-knotted, juts against a frame of three jostling colours. Her right side repeats the vividness of the intrusive green; on her left, the mauve and orange echo the colours of her dress. A creative experiment in harmony.
  • Public were not prepared for this portrait. An insult to the traditionally emphasised take on women as objects of beauty.
  • The green stripe down the center of the face acts as an artificial shadow line and divides the face chromatically, with a cool and warm side.
  • The traditional techniques of employing light and shadow to produce depth are here replaced by flat areas of contrasting colours.

16. Henri Matisse, The Gypsy, 1906

  • Like The Green Stripebut perhaps more so, the paint gives the illusion of having been squeezed directly from the tube and spread by brush, palette knife and fingers.
  • In both pieces, a physical involvement with the paint that is comparable to a sculptors involvement with his clay.

17. La Joie de vivre (The Joy of Life) 1905-06, Oil on canvas, 175 x 24cm. 18.

  • La Joie de Vivre
  • Stronger colours (green, orange, violet, blue, pink and yellow) occupy spaces that the trees, figures and landscapes naturally dictate.
  • As much a refutation of pointillism asLuxe, Calme and Voluptuoushad been a confirmation, we see a different influence coming in from Japonisme and Gauguins Tahitian work.
  • Guided much more by instinct and feeling than the more dogmatic approach to colour theory used in pointillism.
  • Figures themselves are at once both symbolic and ornamental.
  • Represent a golden age in which man and nature are one.
  • Matisse draws on the lines of the human body so as to harmonise the visual values of unmixed colours to which nothing has been added but white.This was done to harmonize and to simplify the artwork itself.

19. Matisse, Harmony in Red/La desserte, 1908, Oil on canvas, 180 x 220 cm. 20.

  • Harmony in Red/La desserte rouge
  • The art work has a lyrical, rythymic feel
  • The patterning and black outlining draw influences from Japanese prints, primitive art, and a contemporary art movement Art Nouveau.
  • Saturated colours are used in the work. Red is very intense, but is balanced by the complementary green of the window and is broken up by the vast amount of patterning.
  • The intensity of the red and the patterning are the same both on the wallpaper and the tablecloth: this has the effect of flattening the space and perspective. The woman becomes flattened; she blends in with the patterning --> the application of saturated colour deny any sense of pictorial depth.
  • The canvas began its life as Harmony in Green, and was then transformed to Harmony in Blue.


  • It then was bought by Sergei Shchukin, who honoured Matisse's request to work on it one last time, with this Masterpiece as the final result.
  • Green too little contrast. Blue not abstract enough. The red dispelled any suggestion of naturalism.

Matisse,Dinner Table,1897, Oil on canvas, 100 x 131cm. Harmony in Red,1908 22. Art Nouveau Aubrey B