Henri Matisse

Nude. Black and Gold

Nude. Black and Gold
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Henri Matisse
Painting, Oil on canvas, 100x65 cm
Origin: France, 1908

"We can arrive at a state of inspired creation only through conscious work," wrote Matisse. In two Hermitage canvases, "Seated Woman" and "Nude. Study", we can see how Matise worked towards the final, majestic chord of this painting, "Nude. Black and Gold". Matisse was to choose this work to illustrate his writings on art.

The artist preserved the classical pose of the figure found in "Nude. Study", but he brought her forward, enlarged her, changing the angle just a little, making the model's figure the absolute centre of the canvas. The effect was to radically alter the spacial context. Removing the pale ground which created the illusion of space and the elements of an interior, the image of the woman has become not a depiction of a physical being, but something more profound and monumental.

Matisse used black and yellow to mould the figure, but the colours were not intended to represent light and shade; they exist independently, they are of formal, painterly, significance. The daring contrast of black and gold reminds one of old bronze, covered with the dark patina of time, through which comes the occasional gleam of gold.

Source of entry: State Museum of New Western Art, Moscow, 1948
Exibition: French Art: 19th - 20th centuries

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