Henri Matisse (1869-1954), Landscape near Collioure. Study for 'The Joy of Life', 1905
Henri Matisse spent the summer of 1905 in the small fishing village of Collioure in the south of France. He was joined by André Derain, a friend and colleague ten years his junior, and together the two artists embarked on a series of ever-wilder painterly experiments that would later earn the designation ”Fauvism”.
The radical painting
The small landscape is among Matisse’s most radical works from the summer of 1905. In terms of execution, composition and colour scheme the picture represents a break with contemporary notions of what a landscape was supposed to look like.
The brushstrokes range from freely flowing to rough and intense. In several places the greyish-white priming is visible between rapidly applied brushstrokes. The picture has no clearly defined space; instead, undulating arabesques interact with monochrome fields of colour and emphasise the flatness of the image.
An attempt to liberate colour
The colours were selected independently from any impressions of the visual reality; in this image, pure, bright hues are offset against each other in the most powerful clashes imaginable. Indeed, Matisse and Derain aimed to liberate colour from its descriptive function, using it instead as an independent entity capable of communicating the artist’s subjective perception of the image.
The term "les fauves"
The pictures painted during the summer in Collioure were exhibited at the Parisian autumn exhibition in 1905. On this occasion the term “les fauves” (the wild animals) was used for the first time about Matisse, Derain and like-minded artists.