Thursday, October 6, 2011

Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse's style and subjects have always captivated me. I especially love his line quality, and his ability to capture so much with so few lines. His lines have the ability to immediately invoke the essence of whatever he is drawing - whether it be a nude or a simple plant.

It is remarkable that Matisse is able to communicate such a moving scene with usually relatively uniform line weight. Even in his drawings that have a fairly monotonous type of line, the way he preserves large fields of empty space on the page gives the illusion of density - that could have otherwise been expressed with varying line weights.

In both "Reclining Nude" and "Nu devant le miroir" below, Matisse makes sure to leave the interiors of the women relatively nondescript. The decision to simply outline the figures conveys a beautiful delicateness and smoothness. However, at the same time, Matisse often exaggerates the proportions of the figure highlighting its imperfections. This combination of idealization and honesty when drawing the figure is very moving.

One of the hallmarks of Matisse's works are gorgeous depictions of interior spaces. He is a master of suggesting fabrics, clothing, tile and decorations in a tasteful manner. At times the backgrounds of his drawings can seem chaotic, but they are usually balanced by his main subject.

When I draw, I often attempt to use fluid and simple lines like Matisse's. I like drawings that tread between being expressive and reserved.

Biographical notes: Lived, 1869-1954. He was a French artist who helped revolutionize modern art in the 20th century. Matisse was good friends with Picasso, and was influenced by Van Gogh. Matisse drew heavily from direct observation.

Face of a Woman: circa 1948.

Reclining Nude: 1935.

Nu devant le miroir: 1937.

Sources: - images - Biographical notes.

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