matisse odalisque paintings

Matisse odalisque paintings
The subject of the painting is a woman sitting in a green and yellow striped armchair. Her figure and the chair take up the majority of the canvas. She is nude except for sheer, gold-trimmed harem pants that covers her legs and touches the floor. The woman is heavily sexualized by her suggestive pose and how Matisse portrays the curvature of her body. Her breasts are round and idealized. The brushwork in the painting is loose and shows the gestural movements of the artist.
Matisse created many Odalisque paintings in the nineteen-twenties, when Henriette Darricarrière was his main model, and when he was still working loosely under the style of fauvism. Fauvism in painting is characterized by the isolation of individual brush strokes on the canvas and coloristic freedom that moves away from naturalistic representation. [5] The repetition of the Odalisque as the subject was in a way a medium for Matisse to work through and explore his artistic purposes. [6]

Matisse odalisque paintings
Of these trips, Matisse documents only what he wants and what he imagines. Ali insists that readers do not forget this when looking at his odalisques and still lives. “There are massacres—somewhere outside the frame. Matisse complains only of weather. Paints flowers obsessively and sometimes Zohra, the local girl, maid, prostitute, whatever. Zohra.”
Other historians and writers overtly discuss the problematic nature of white Europeans not only inventing and exploring sexualized fantasies of prostitutes in foreign locales, but also inviting viewers to take pleasure in these desires. In 2015, writer and poet Najwa Ali explored Matisse’s odalisques, looking to the underlying violence of such imagery and representation. With pointed, lyrical prose, Ali introduces the subject of the odalisque in terms the average reader would understand:

Matisse odalisque paintings
Employed first in literature as an example of the moral superiority of Western monogamy over Eastern polygamy, the odalisque was transformed into an object of desire in the erotic paintings of the 19th-century Orientalism art movement. While the nude as a subject stretches back to antiquity, the odalisque trope is particular in that it emerged precisely at the moment of the Second French Empire, in 1830, when the French colonized Algeria, which had previously been part of the Ottoman Empire. It is through this moment that the exhibition enters.
Reclined on a flowered bedspread, the woman posed as odalisque in “The Black Shawl” (1917) is, as the wall text informs us, “the Italian known only as Laurette or Lorette” who Matisse depicted 50 times or more. Signs of her objectification and containment are apparent enough. The black silk of her gown winding around her body evokes ropes of bondage as she lays with her hands hidden or tied behind her head. Even her hair coiling across her shoulder seems to bind Laurette/Lorette.

Matisse odalisque paintings
As Sund sees it, the rise of odalisque – which is more or less a synonym for near-eastern concubines in Western art – coincides with the hardening of the Ottoman Empire into a French military adversary during the 19th century.
While working in a form that doesn’t show foreign cultures in the most favourable light, Matisse manages to communicate the simple pleasures European aesthetes might share with their counterparts in the Arabian diaspora.

Matisse odalisque paintings
It reminded him of ancient Egyptian art. “I felt that the methods of writing form were the same in the two civilizations, no matter how foreign they may be to each other in every other way,” he said in 1951. “So I bought the head for a few francs and took it along to Gertrude Stein’s. There I found [the artist Pablo] Picasso, who was astonished by it. We discussed it at length, and that was the beginning of the interest we all have taken in Negro art.”
‘Look At These Odalisques Carefully’

References:

http://daily.jstor.org/the-colonialist-gaze-of-matisses-odalisques/
http://hyperallergic.com/489124/matisse-odalisque-norton-simon-museum/
http://www.phaidon.com/agenda/art/articles/2019/march/13/look-at-the-walls-not-the-women-in-matisse-s-odalisques/
http://www.wbur.org/artery/2017/04/08/matisse-in-the-studio
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odalisque_with_Slave

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