Henri Matisse – “Music”

Matisse Henri Emile Benois is a famous painter, graphic artist, sculptor from France. The master was distinguished by a rather non-standard style – his favorite technique was to convey sensations with the help of rich colors and flat patterns. All of the artist’s works are very deep in color, his works every now and then caused a real sensation at exhibitions. It is curious that his interest in painting aroused quite late – at the age of 20. And this impulse, which seized the artist, remained with him until the end of his days.

The famous panels by Matisse “Dance” and “Music” at the Salon d’Automne in Paris (1910) became a scandalous sensation due to the fact that the paintings depict naked people rather realistically. “Music” by artist Henri Matisse is painted in oil on canvas. Today the work is kept in the Hermitage.

The canvas depicts five people of indeterminate age, and the whole work resembles a drawing of a child. One of the characters in the picture plays the violin, the second, sitting next to him, plays the flute, the other three are on their side. The sky on the canvas is deep blue, the grass is bright green, the people are red. The solution is familiar to the artist: due to the contrast of large areas of pure color, new “notes” appear, which replace the color scheme. Tones become the direct subject of the whole picture.

Achieving the harmony of color is a key task, which is remarkably accomplished in The Music by Henri Matisse: no description of a painting can convey the full completeness of the selected color scheme. A juicy crimson shade is perfectly balanced here by blue and green. The shapes are outlined by a dark outline that fills in paint. At first, the master made the silhouettes of men with genitals, but at the end of the work he hid them, apparently, according to the wishes of the customer.

The violinist in Henri Matisse’s Music is like a monument. His posture is very precise in its details – it was not very difficult for the painter to achieve the goal, because he also played this musical instrument.

This painting (as well as its pair – “Dance”) was commissioned by the artist by the collector from Russia S.I. Shchukin in 1909. He asked the artist to show dance and music in the form of an allegory. The master sets a goal for himself – to reduce these images to simple forms. However, it is precisely in their dynamics that these paired pictures differ. The characters of “Dance” seem to be trying to break out of the picture, while in “Music” by the artist Henri Matisse, everything, on the contrary, looks extremely static. The composition is filled with calmness, perfectly balanced.

In place of men, they are depicted here as if their “emblems”, which turn the figures into a kind of twins. This creates the integrity of the canvas, not divided into separate plots. The three people on the right side are sitting with their knees bent, which makes them somewhat similar to the signs in the musical row. If we consider the painting from this point of view, the silhouette of a musician with a violin acts here as a musical key. This is only a hypothesis – the author did not want to decipher this picture.

Description of the painting by Henri Matisse “Music” in English

Schukin – a famous collector in the last century, knew Matisse well. In 1908, he decided to decorate his mansion in Moscow in a special way and invited the artist to paint two panels for the house.

It was necessary with the help of an allegory to depict such important arts as music and dance. The artist created a paired mural. The themes were close to the owner of the house, since concerts were often held in his house.

Before sending work to Russia, they were exhibited at the Autumn Salon in Paris in 1910. Such an unusual work of the artist caused a real scandal. Naked heroes and an unexpected vision of the topic surprised everyone. Schukin decided to initially abandon these works, but then changed his mind.

In the process of working on the figures of men, the artist sought to make them as simple as possible. All the characters are deliberately deprived of individuality. The features of their faces are almost identical, the same can be said about the physique. This is necessary so that the viewer can perceive this image as one unit.

The artist sought to achieve harmony of color. Matisse emphasized contrast. That is why he painted the characters in red. In order to balance the image, the paintings used blue and green colors. The background plays almost no role, so it is as simple as possible.

Before us appears five heroes. Two of them play, and three sing. Matisse reproduced the violinist’s position as clearly as possible, since he himself was a virtuoso musician. The men on this panel seemed numb. The silhouettes are drawn out by deliberately elastic lines to give the canvas a special musical rhythm.

Matisse was looking for the perfect compositional solution for a very long time. Scene corresponded them several times.

Some researchers believe that the figures on the right resemble notes, and a violinist can be a symbol of a treble clef.

The canvas is characterized by a fresh range of colors. Heroes are static and completely isolated from others. They are the most immersed in music.

Year of painting: 1910.

Dimensions of the painting: 260 x 389 cm.

Material: canvas.

Writing technique: oil.

Genre: genre painting.

Style: fauvism, expressionism.

Gallery: Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia.

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