Henri Matisse, Goldfish and Palette, 1914, Oil on canvas, 147 x 112 cm, Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Henri Matisse, 1869-1954, is regarded as the leader of the Fauvist movement. He pursued the expressiveness of color throughout his whole career, from oil painting to his late cut-out works. He believed that color should be used for its expressive potential and for the artist's feelings about a subject, rather than simply to describe what it looks like. This work belongs to a series of paintings and drawings that Matisse made between 1912 and 1915. The works all feature goldfish in the composition. Matisse must have been captivated by them during his trip to Morocco earlier that year. In Goldfish and Palette they are not the main subject however. Matisse shows us his studio overlooking quai Saint Michel in Paris. The bowl with goldfish stands on a table in front of the window and the railings of his balcony. He also depicts a green plant and a yellow piece of fruit on it. The room is hard to pin down. The composition is constructed with cubist and other modern tendencies in mind. Matisse reworked it multiple times and scratch marks are clearly visible. Matisse originally depicted himself on the right side of the oil painting. The only thing that is left of him now is his thumb on the palette. Although they are not the main subject, the goldfish immediately attract our attention due to their color. The bright orange strongly contrasts with the blue tones of the exterior world outside.
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