About this artwork
Like his artistic hero, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse merged the traditional and the avant-garde. In Still Life with Geranium, he transformed a simple still life into a populated Arcadian landscape painting, rendered in the brilliant color, thick paint, and rapid brushwork characteristic of the group of painters known as the Fauves (French for “wild beasts”). Matisse was recognized by critics as the leader of this group.
This composition is one of contrasts—the pale palette and light brushwork in the upper half of the picture are juxtaposed with the darker colored, heavily painted lower half; the firmly planted pose of the female figure is contraposed with the almost-ﬂeeing figure of the male; and the red vegetables grown near Paris are set near ceramic objects from exotic, faraway places. One of many still-life paintings in which Matisse incorporated his own figurative sculptures, here the artist challenged his viewers’ expectations by rendering his modeled figures with minimal color and simple lines. Probably represented as plaster casts, these figures would later be made in bronze editions by the artist; versions of Woman Leaning on Her Hands (on the right of the geranium) and Thorn Extractor (on the left) are also in the collection of the Art Institute.
- Henri Matisse
- Still Life with Geranium
- Oil on canvas
- 100.3 × 81.5 cm (39 1/2 × 32 1/8 in.)
- Joseph Winterbotham Collection
- © 2018 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York