The piano lesson | Henri Matisse | 1916

The piano lesson | Henri Matisse | 1916

The piano lesson | Henri Matisse | 1916

Matisse has, in his work, usual motifs such as nudes, female figures and decorative compositions.
He is acknowledged as the father of the fauvist movement, which was characterized by the use of living colors, the simplification of the shapes and the supression of unnecesary details. However, one of the things that are to mention from Matisse is his flexibility to experiment in different branches of art, whether to be painting, drawing, sculpting or graphic arts.
The piano lesson is a good example of this experimentation because in it you can see the influence of the cubism. The shapes are really geometric, almost abstract, but we still can guess them: a child is sitting practising piano, while a female figure in white, on the upper-right side of the painting, is checking on him. We can also see an open window (another common motif from Matisse) in the left area of the canvas; and as well, we se a candle and a metronome on the piano. In the lower-left area of the composition, there is some kind of doll… or a sculpture, I´m not sure.
On one hand, this painting mantains the simplification of shapes from the fauvism, and the same happens with the details; but it is the color (or the lack of) what makes this work by Matisse interesting. Here, the interior of the house or the apartment remains somber and dull. There are great extensions of gray, only interrupted by the green of the nature outside the window, the red of the piano and the cyan and orange of the vertical walls.
To me, this work is disturbing: if we consider the lack of emotions in the face of the child (who, by the way, looks like a member of KISS) and the ghost-look of the woman behind, it gives me the impression that something perverse has just happened. Or it is about to.

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~ by Álvaro Mazzino on July 7, 2010.

5 Responses to “The piano lesson | Henri Matisse | 1916”

  1. […] very similar to the fauves in France. Let us remember that the latter, as we talked in the post The piano lesson by Matisse, were characterized by the use of vivid colors, the simplification of forms and the […]

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  5. It is interesting how differently art can be interpreted. This from MoMA:

    The Piano Lesson depicts the living room of Matisse’s home in Issy-les-Moulineaux, with his elder son, Pierre, at the piano, the artist’s sculpture Decorative Figure (1908), at bottom left, and, at upper right, his painting Woman on a High Stool. Matisse began with a naturalistic drawing, but he eliminated detail as he worked, scraping down areas and rebuilding them in broad fields of color. The painting evokes a specific moment in time—light suddenly turned on in a darkening interior—by the triangle of shadow on the boy’s face and the rhyming green triangle of light falling on the garden. The artist’s incising on the window frame and stippling on the left side produce a pitted quality that suggests the eroding effects of light or time, a theme reiterated by the presence of the metronome and burning candle on the piano.

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