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Mattise’s Open Window, Colicure, Essay Example

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Essay

Henri Matisse’s 1905 work, Open Window, Colicure, is considered exemplary of the “fauvist” style: the description of this style of art as “fauvism”, which from the French translates into English as “wild beasts”, can be said to capture a certain wild and unbridled style that distinguishes these specific painters, of which Matisse is a part, as a distinctive approach. In the work in question, the raw animal quality that distinguishes this approach is shown in Matisse’s transformation of a mundane content matter, various plants and the scene seen from an open window, into something that is both vibrant and transgressive.

In so far as we can consider fauvism as distinct enough to be labeled as a particular school, Matisse’s work here gives us hints as to why this is the case: from the very name “fauvism”, the understanding is that the artist will take an unconventional approach to his or her subject matter. This is the case with Matisse: the ambiguity of form and the precise use of colors suggests to the observer that the subject matter of the work is not viewed through what may be classified as normal, human eyes. There is an almost surrealistic approach to the subject matter, to the extent that common household objects become something dynamic, at once challenging our conventional perceptions of household objects.

Arguably, the choice of household objects here as the theme of the painting contributes to the essence of the style Matisse both develops and contributes to, that is fauvism: This school of art challenges the observer to think of the world around him or her in ways that transcend their every-day gaze. What is promoted in a work such as this is the desire to view a work of art from a radically different perspective: what better means to accomplish this, then by selecting a thoroughly quotidian subject matter, and then transforming it according to a vibrancy that is beyond the mundane.

The “wildness” of fauvism, in the context of this particular work of Matisse, is therefore the way in which the artist almost “attacks” the subject matter from a perspective that is hostile to our everyday common sense thought. With this approach, mundane scenes are transformed into something entirely different. Mattise’s work, exemplified in this piece, in this sense endeavors to force such a change of perspective: accordingly, it becomes the style of a “wild animal”, something not entirely human, uncovering the hidden layers of the world around us from a perspective that challenges our preconceptions.

Works Cited

Mattise, H. (1905)Open Window, Colicure. Retrieved April 15, 2013 at

http://www.nga.gov/feature/artnation/fauve/window_1.shtm

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