The Views from Matisse?s Windows

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The Views from Matisse’s Windows
The menagerie of emotions that Henri Matisse evoked in his paintings spanned from enchanted enthusiasm to somber contemplation. In his paintings, Open Window and French Window, the artist depicted two vastly different views from possibly the same window, each nearly opposite in value, yet both impetuous in color. Various research studies have explored the psychology of color and have found that humans do relate color with emotion instinctively. One such study found that light, “warm”, colors encourage positive emotion, while darker, “cool”, colors spur negative emotion in most people. The bevy of warm colors in Open Window arouse elated emotion, while the cool colors in French Window innerve an icy feeling of solitude because the relationship between color and emotion is psychologically significant in the human process.
Henri Matisse was the leader of the Fauvist movement of early Modernist art, a method that used true, brilliant color in often distorted brush strokes on canvas. The artists involved were titled the Fauves, French for wild beasts, because of their untamed and avant-garde approach to painting. They evaded detail and used the placement of color to create movement. Matisse’s new approach shook the art world and heavily influenced future artists, as he has been referred to as the “Master of Color”.
In Matisse’s work, entitled Open Window, his oil sodden brush strokes illuminate the canvas with images of sailboats on a blush sea in the background and pots of crimson blooms in the foreground. The piece is drenched with life. His colors, vibrant and unnatural, range from cobalt to alabaster. A periwinkle, rose and ivory sky lingers above bobbing boats of coral masts, and hulls of azure and ebony. Greens flecked with varying amounts of yellow create hues of olive and amber in the foliage draping the windowsill. Indigo and terracotta pots hold bright scarlet and jade flora near the viewer. The window’s open doors reflect the image ahead; it’s glass panes mirroring the misty rose-colored water. The turquoise and lilac walls inside reveal that the window is in the corner of the room. A palette of colors full of vigor drenches the painting.
Blues, greens and reds are the predominant colors in Open Window, and the 1996 research of Michael Hemphill will conclude that this is why one feels a surge of pleasure and vivacity while viewing this work. Of the 40 men and women in his color-emotion study, more than half cited blue as their favorite color.
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