Tuesday, 1 March 2011

I wish I'd done this

Matisse- Sorrows of the king.
This image is named La Tristesse du roi, which translates to, Sorrows of the king/ the sadness of the king. It was created by Henri Matisse in 1952. The image is 292 cm high by 386 cm wide and it is held at the National museum of mordern art, paris. The image was created by using cut out pieces of paper covered in a single colour, a matt gouache made up of pigments, lime and gum arabic and then cut up with scissors and stuck down in an abstract way. The enormous potentional of this approach to working became apparent to Matisse, for it was neither drawing nor painting, but a combination of the two. He said "Instead of drawing an outline and filling in the colour...I am drawing directly into colour". It was with this technique that he was to produce a number of monumental pictures during the very last years of his life; these are works on a par with the greatest classical compositions. This technique derived from cubism a half century earlier.

There are several distinctive shapes in this abstract collage: a guitar, flying yellow petals, and a wide array of colours that clash in a cacophonous way. The blending and contrasting of blues, greens, magentas and yellows in this piece shows Matisse's mastery over the years. The background has been collaged with block squared shapes and colours including blue, pink and yellow and a small black square in the top left corner. There are 3 main elements of this image, all three seem to be portrayed as people. 2 of them being very similar in shape, very rounded, with small details of the human figure, including hands and feet, one of them looks as if it is sitting playing the guitar and the other playing what looks like some sort of drum, and the 3rd figure to the right, being completely different in colour and shape, it is made up of curved shapes and patterns and it looks as if it is possibly a female body. Matisse uses colours and symbolism in this piece to represent the sorrows of the king. This image is known as Matisse's final self portrait. He represents himself by the black form, like a silhouette of himself sitting in his arm chair or wheel chair, surrounded by the pleasures which have enriched his life; the yellow petals fluttering away have the gaiety of musical notation, the odalisque green symbolizing the east, while a dancer on the right pays honor to the female body. Also there is a wide array of colours which try to capture the emotional impact of royal sadness. All of these Matisse themes are combined in this masterful painting or collage.

The composition of this image works very well, the center of the image is the black form, which Matisse portrays as himself. This shows that this shape, or portrait is a main element of the image. Matisse's ideal working practice was perfectly tuned to what he called the 'rhythms of nature', as Compositional elements refer to the natural world, a dancer, leaves/petals and flower motifs, they are sign-posts for the viewer. They point to a presence, a decorative fullness in which the notion of context, as it is understood in the Western tradition, is almost obliterated. Matisse took up paper cutting when his hands grew too arthritic to paint. His paper cutting became his artisitic vehicle and expressed the same ideas in the main that his paintings had, he did a vast number of cuttings and they depicted different things: expression of jazz music, the circus, dances etc. Stylistically they fell into the category, fauvism, as that was Matisse's forte: it is characterized by the use of brilliantly clashing colours to express rhythm and vitality.

The reason I have chosen this image and wished that I had done this is because it shows Matisse's abilities and shows that he didn't give up his practices when his hands got too arthritic . I love the contrasts of colour, bright and playful, like something you would find in a childrens book. Simple yet distinctive and bold shapes give again a playful feel. The image itself looks as if it is a page from a story book, and were getting to 'the good bit', with 3 characters, who are they? why are they in the image? It is an interesting image and its fun to learn about. Also, I love how the image has been created, a mix of collage and paint, which is what I have been workng with over the past few prpjects. Though my work has more textures and stronger shapes I still feel Matisse and his cut outs are a huge influence to me and possibly other illustrators.

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