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Tenderness and pleasure. Half-naked lovely odalisques in the paintings of Henri Matisse

Tenderness and pleasure. Half-naked lovely odalisques in the paintings of Henri Matisse

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Henri Matisse wrote many interesting paintings, but his cycle of artwork dedicated to odalisques stands apart, and became a logical continuation of the creative search of this outstanding artist. In 1922, he was already a recognized and established master, whose paintings are exhibited all over the world. Matisse was sincerely convinced that painting should be accessible and understandable to all viewers, regardless of their education and ability to understand art, and it should not make you think about any global problems, not to frighten, and not to worry, but to give joy and visual pleasure.

Lying odalisque

And these requirements Matisse's odalisques meet completely, they became a real symbol of his painting and perception of art. It all began with Matisse's admiration for the work of Eugène Delacroix, especially his cycle of paintings dedicated to "Algerian women". He, like Delacroix, traveled to the East, got acquainted with the new culture, which became a powerful creative impulse for him.

Eugène Delacroix. Algerian women

And Matisse decided to look at Oriental women in his own way and in his own style, but one thing remained unchanged - they are very beautiful and attractive - slender, with lush breasts, rounded hips, the real inhabitants of harems, pleasing the eye of the Oriental lord. And the viewer is imbued with the atmosphere of luxury, tenderness and peace, which are only possible at that time and in that place, and that is if you do not particularly go into various backstabbing games of odalisques for the heart of the sultan.

Odalisque with Turkish chair

Matisse in depicting his odalisques gradually moved away from the extremes of the period of fauvism and over-simplification of his models up to primitivism, for the sake of expressing the main idea, as in the painting "Dance" - more about it you can read at the link.

Luxury, peace and pleasure

This allowed him to find his niche and the necessary balance between decorativeness and expressiveness, which suited the artist himself and critics. "Art should not embody extremes, it is drawn to moderation and reason, and it should also please the heart and eyes" - said Matisse.

An odalisque reflected in a mirror.

He grew up, and he no longer wanted to be a beggar rebel looking for his way in painting. As it turned out, to be a respected and sought-after artist is much more pleasant and honorable than only an innovator. Therefore, and the color solution of his paintings depicting odalisques, more restrained and traditional - it is no longer a riot of several colors, not red-skinned dancers and musicians, painted with a few strokes, but something refined, pleasing to the eye, and causing positive emotions.

Odalisque in Hindu pose

Relaxation, peace and luxury - these are the main components of the paintings, and Matisse does not think too much about the inner feelings of his odalisques, for him they are just an object of pure aesthetics and beauty, like flowers or a vase. He also said that he did not really care what to paint, as long as it was beautiful, although there are not many really beautiful things in the world.

Sitting odalisque

But their task odalisques fulfill on all hundred, and this cycle of paintings became the last ray of melting the icy indifference and contempt of art critics.

Raised Knee

One of the best paintings in this series is Knee Lifted. A half-naked odalisque in only weightless trousers sits in an armchair, behind her is a carpet with Moorish patterns that so impressed Matisse during his travels in the East. And there is no doubt that this painting is about the East and Eastern women, who do not think about feminism and equality as Western women do, but are quite satisfied with their present position and status of odalisques, whose main goal is to look beautiful and give joy to their sultan.

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