’s The Green Line Essay, Research Paper
Stylistic Analysis of Madam Matisse: The Green Line
Henry Matisse, one of the most influential members of the Fauve movement, was responsible for much of the attention brought to it and its respective members. One of his works, Madame Matisse: The Green Line, more or less serves as an excellent example of what he was trying to accomplish in art: the use of color to express and convey emotions.
The composition of the work consists of a portrait of Madame Matisse in the foreground and a background divided into several distinct areas of color. The division in the background is apparent in the juxtaposition of the mauve, orange and blue green, with the foreground divided primarily by the green strip itself, which runs down the middle of Madam Matisse’s face and separates the painting along a vertical axis. The background and foreground, however, are rendered almost completely flat, so that they seem to become part of one another, and Madame Matisse seems to become somewhat of a portrait within a portrait.
The space in the portrait is more or less two dimensional, with only a slight hint of depth illustrated by a dark area of shading above Madame Matisse’s left shoulder. The perspective is entirely frontal with her torso angled to the left and her head slightly to the right.
Color, along with the subject of Madame Matisse, is the focus and most important element of the work. Matisse has used color here to illustrate a sense of the emotions he feels for his wife. These colors are primarily bright, striking colors such as orange, red,
yellow, mauve and bright green accompanied by the use of a cooler, calmer blue-green and black. The combination of these colors is non-naturalistic and provides a contrast that is readily apparent to the eye. Additionally, the colors that Matisse has chosen are enriched with a personal emotion that seems to make them even more striking in the way in which they are arranged.
There is no real light source in the work. However, both sides of Madame Matisse’s face seem to be illuminated by the use of warm, bright colors, as to suggest that maybe there is a fire burning or a window directly in front her. By the same token, the dark, shaded area behind her and over her left shoulder is confusing because it also suggests a light source in front of her and to the right, yet there is no shading on her face to accompany it.
Lines and shapes play an important role in this work because they work together to establish balance. This is achieved through the use of both geometric and organic shapes, with the organic representing the figure of the woman and the geometric establishing the background and its division of color. The lines in the work are both dominant outlines on her shoulders, hair, and left neckline, and blurred lines like the details on her garments and the contour of her right cheek and chin.
Painting technique can be described as the use of several layers of oil paint on canvas with visible brush strokes and some texture.
A personal interpretation of the piece reveals a paramount example of Matisse’s ability to use color as an emotional appeal. He is able to convey a love of his wife through the carefully chosen combination of colors, as well as the different aspects of his
wife’s personality. The yellow on her face seems to portray a harder, unemotional (and perhaps sickly) personal trait when contrasted with the warmer orange and pink, which emit a loving warmth, opposite the dividing green line. The line itself seems to serve as a neutral point at which the two personalities are divided. At the same time, the hotter colors that are placed on the yellow side of the face seem to express lively, passionate moods that she experienced from time to time. Here, the contrast may indicate that her nature was one of varying degrees of expressiveness, ranging from love and energy to collected, dispassionate coldness.
The use of colors in the piece also reflects the Fauve movements in general, which centers around color and its expression function. In fact, Matisse is one of the leading artists in the movement and is largely responsible for its overall impact art and the avant-garde exhibitions and schools of thought. Additionally, the Fauves as a whole believed in the free and lyrical use of color and the right to falsify it instead or mirroring nature exactly, as did Matisse. The Fauves also uses color to create flattened out spaces and figures, such as Madame Matisse in her portrait. The works they created were often observation based, such as portraiture and nature as a subject. All of these elements contributed to Matisse’s ideas about art, in which he took and developed them to another level and so affected the view of art for generations to come.
In a social context, Matisse began his professional career as a lawyer and did not discover painting and art until he bought a set of watercolors at some point before 1892. After he did discover his love of art he began to study in Paris in 1892 and spent much time in the south of France, which vastly affected the style of his work.
In conclusion, the painting Madam Matisse: The Green Stripe is an embodiment of everything that Matisse himself and the Fauve movement stood for: the lyrical use of color to create “an art of balance, purity, and serenity.” He was able to use the initial ideas created in the Fauve movement and advance them beyond what any other artist in the period had done previously or after. In fact, one might say that Matisse was the artist who ensured the lasting impression of Fauvism on artistic expression and that it would not be what it is today without his influence.