Henri Matisse (1869 - 1954): Still Life with Apples on a

Henri Matisse (1869 - 1954): Still Life with Apples on a

3/23/2021, 11:09:56 AM
Henri Matisse (1869 - 1954): Still Life with Apples on a Pink Tablecloth, 1924, oil on canvas, 60.4 x 73 cm (23 3/4 x 28 3/4 in.), National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C This beautiful study of yellow apples set against a pink cloth with the blue of the background is an exceptionally fine instance of Matisse in mid-career, halfway between his beginnings and his culmination. Like many of the odalisques of this decade, this is a pivotal work both in style and subject; like the figure and interior studies, this painting shows the artist seeking an intimacy of scale and a compensatory reduction in overpowering architectonic design. The immediate sensuality of the image, the caress of the touch, are in contrast to pictures that come before and after. Here he seems to be reinvestigating some of the preoccupations of his youth, especially with respect to the Cezanne's disposition of the cloth and the way in which the fruit and pitcher are inserted into this arbitrary topography. Clearly, at this juncture in his career Henri Matisse was also seeking a new confrontation with the problem of constructing space in depth, using diverging lines of perspective rather than decorative framing devices and changes of scale. As for the resonant color harmonies, they grow from his long preoccupation with this problem. Here they are used to model forms rather than to create pictorial surface tensions. To a degree this preoccupation is contradictory to his goals as a Fauve and to the decorative, planar tendencies of his final works. But the investigations conducted in pictures of this type were a basic catalyst in the historical chemistry of Matisse's art; their role was to refine his sensibility and his proven accomplishments on a near-architectural scale.

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