Woman with a Hat by Henri Matisse

— What was the color of the dress Madame was wearing while posing for the portrait?

— Black, of course!

The critic Camille Mauclair said this about the painting: ‘A pot of paint has been flung in the face of the public,’ while Leo Stein, brother of Gertrude Stein, who bought the painting shortly after its first showing described the work as ‘the nastiest smear of paint I had ever seen.’

Ok, so here is the reality: this is a portrait, titled La Femme au Chapeau or Woman with a Hat made by Henri Matisse in 1905 of his wife, Amelie Parayre. She is depicted in an elaborate outfit with classic attributes of the French bourgeoisie: a gloved arm holding a fan and an elaborate hat atop her head. Her costume’s vibrant hues are purely expressive. After the devastating initial reception at the 1905 Salon d’Automne in Paris, Fauvism  as an art movement gained much favor in the art circles, as the art world started to delve deeper into the nuances of the style. Fauvists, or les Fauves  is French for “the wild beasts” – a loosely-defined group of artists in the early 20th century, so named by the critics for their bold use of bright, often unmixed colors they used in their work. Fauvism is considered to be the first art movement of the 20h century.

With the rising popularity of photography ideal representation of the real objects was no longer an objective for painters, who looked towards the interior emotional spaces for inspiration. The bright colors and the loose brush strokes that made the painting look almost unfinished was essentially the artist’s move towards an expressive individual style.  Color was now used for all its material and emotional qualities.

This article © galleryIntell

  • joe spiteri

    With due respect I could never understand why when photograpy was invented somebody said that drawing or painting has lost its scope. Even as a child I used to find that photographs in a book were very boring while I was very much excited by the illustrations. Photography is an art in its own right with totally different results from a painting or drawing. Even a highly digital and detailed photograph is still different from a painting. A painting is an interpretation with endless different approaches which makes it infinitely exciting.

    • Very true, Joe. The immediacy of a photograph made portraiture (one of the principal revenue sources for artists) obsolete. Everyone, not just the nobility and the mercantile class, was able to have a portrait of him/herself in a matter of minutes, so painters had to look elsewhere for “purpose” and invent new means of expression. And so we have a dramatic stylistic and ideological departure happening in the field of painting because photography played this “cataclysmic” role.

      Nowadays, many photographers return to the idea of creating unique images, using almost painterly techniques. Take a look at the series of video interviews with AIPAD dealers to find out more. http://www.galleryintell.com/james-danziger-portraiture-aipad2017/

    • Very true, Joe. The immediacy of a photograph made portraiture (one of the principal revenue sources for artists) obsolete. Everyone, not just the nobility and the mercantile class, was able to have a portrait of him/herself in a matter of minutes, so painters had to look elsewhere for “purpose” and invent new means of expression. And so we have a dramatic stylistic and ideological departure happening in the field of painting because photography played this “cataclysmic” role.

      Nowadays, many photographers return to the idea of creating unique images, using almost painterly techniques. Take a look at the series of video interviews with AIPAD dealers to find out more. http://www.galleryintell.com/james-danziger-portraiture-aipad2017/