All About Matisse

Red Studio

1911; Oil on canvas, 71 1/4" x 86 1/4" Museum of Modern Art, New York

Matisse uses past realistic studios interiors by Courbet, Bazille, and others, then he merges these paintings with his present, a concern with color-field painting. The composition of this painting is casual and simplistic. The interweaving and tying together of objects in past paintings such as "Harmony in Red" can not be found. Instead, the space is very open, and always returns to the surface of the image. Matisse also reduced the walls and floor to one continuous sheet of uniform red. Yet the room reads as a room by the subtle way Matisse laid out its furnishings. The painting's flatness was perhaps a reflection of the cubist style taking place over Matisse's time. Line is an important part of this painting. There is absolutely no tonal forms in the painting, without the line one would get lost in the red. The red exhumes the whole space not allowing any contrast between light and dark. Matisse used a minimal palette in this painting, assigning them to objects with local color. Matisse's usual use of pattern is not a prevailing part of this painting as in his others. One has to get past the color and use of line before the pattern can be noticed. On the left wall on the painting Matisse paints one of the painting in his studio, he uses a flower pattern which is the predominant pattern and repetition in the painting. Matisse then uses the same pattern in the plate design in the bottom left. There is a repetition of rectangles from the pictures and frames in the studio found throughout the composition. Matisse takes the repetition of rectangles furthur by also painting a repetition of dash masks on top of them.

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