Henri Matisse - Conversation 1912

Henri Matisse - Conversation 1912
Conversation
1912 177x217cm oil/canvas
Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia

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From the State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia:
"Conversation", painted in the artist's country house in the summer of 1909, is one of the important works Matisse produced during the highly productive period 1908-1913. Only slightly smaller than "The Red Room", the images are simplified, minimalised. The central figures of Matisse and his wife Amelie are schematic, while still retaining a portrait likeness. Most importantly, whilst depicting a moment in real life, Matisse "captures the truer and more profound meaning behind it, which serves the artist as a point of departure for a more consistent interpretation of reality," as he himself wrote in 1908. We enter into the blue world of the "Conversation", sink deep into the atmosphere of colour. The blue colour does not represent solidity; this is not the colour of the carpet or the colour of the wall. Filling a large part of the paintign space, the blue bears the concept of space through the force of the associations it gives rise to. It is cold; it is emotional and significant; it excites us with its profundity. Submitting to the blue's dominance, the green becomes not only the colour of the meadow but a symbol of the earth, a symbol of Life, an image which is reinforced by the straight, strong trunk of "the tree of life". In this ideal world of pure light-colour we find two figure-symbols embodying the two eternal sources of Life. In the contrast and mutual attraction of the straight lines (male) and the soft, emotional, lines curving (female) lies one of the mysteries of existence.