Support: Antique Laid Paper
Sheet: 57.2 x 45.5 cm (22 1/2 x 17 15/16 in.); Image: 44.7 x 38.6 cm (17 5/8 x 15 3/16 in.)
© Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Gift of various donors to the department of Prints and Drawings 2001.37
Catalogue raisonné: Duthuit Vol.I, Matisse 317
In 1905, Matisse and other artists like Albert Marquet, Andre Derain, and Raoul Dufy exhibited spontaneous, brightly colored paintings, so that the artists were labeled "fauves," or wild beasts. The Fauves were also attracted by the expressive possibilities of woodcuts. Influenced by Paul Gauguin's prints and the reduction of form and simplification of line in African and Oceanic art, these young French artists found the physical process of gouging, cutting, and whittling woodblocks akin to the carving they so admired in tribal sculpture and masks. Matisse studied the human figure throughout his career, producing black ink drawings of unusual strength and energy during the winter of 1905 and 1906. Freely executed, they convey a new evocative power and emphasize contour, the most important element in a drawing for Matisse. He translated three of these drawing into woodcuts. The most important, The Large Woodcut, exemplifies how the artist experimented with composing the image on one plane. Model and background are conveyed with the same dynamic strokes, so the boldly distorted figure, now flattened, is part of the overall ornamental pattern that extends to the boundaries of the design.
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