Henri Matisse, Woman with the Hat, 1905







The dominant figure of the Fauve group was Henri Matisse, who believed that color could play a primary role in conveying meaning and focused his efforts on developing this premise. In an early painting, Woman with the Hat, Matisse depicted his wife Amélie in a rather conventional manner compositionally, but the seemingly arbitrary colors immediately startle the viewer, as does the sketchiness of the forms. The entire image—the woman’s face, clothes, hat, and background— consists of patches and splotches of color juxtaposed in ways that sometimes produce jarring contrasts. Matisse explained his approach: “What characterized fauvism was that we rejected imitative colors, and that with pure colors we obtained stronger reactions.” For Matisse and the Fauves, therefore, color became the formal ele- ment most responsible for pictorial coherence and the primary conveyor of meaning.  

Henri Matisse, Woman with the Hat, 1905

The dominant figure of the Fauve group was Henri Matisse, who believed that color could play a primary role in conveying meaning and focused his efforts on developing this premise. In an early painting, Woman with the Hat, Matisse depicted his wife Amélie in a rather conventional manner compositionally, but the seemingly arbitrary colors immediately startle the viewer, as does the sketchiness of the forms. The entire image—the woman’s face, clothes, hat, and background— consists of patches and splotches of color juxtaposed in ways that sometimes produce jarring contrasts. Matisse explained his approach: “What characterized fauvism was that we rejected imitative colors, and that with pure colors we obtained stronger reactions.” For Matisse and the Fauves, therefore, color became the formal ele- ment most responsible for pictorial coherence and the primary conveyor of meaning.  

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    Henri Matisse, Femme au chapeau (Woman with a Hat) Oil on Canvas 1905
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