Henri MatisseFrench (Le Cateau-Cambrésis, France, 1869 - 1954, Nice, France)
Paysage: Les genêts (Landscape: Broom)
The first great strides toward Modernism in the twentieth century were made at the easels of Henri Matisse and André Derain in the summer of 1905. Working side by side in a Mediterranean fishing town in southwestern France, the two artists rendered the clear light and pastoral setting of their surroundings in high-keyed loosely painted works that inspired one critic to dub them and their contemporaries les fauves ("wild beasts") later that year.
This work is typical of the fifteen or so small paintings that Matisse made that summer. It began as a pencil sketch on a wooden panel whose visible underdrawing indicates a rectilinearity that was abandoned in favor of a pronounced sinuousness. The finished work is a result of Matisse's enthusiastic experimentation with several techniques: a van Gogh-inspired shifting of strokes, neo-impressionist pointillism, and a subjective selection of colors.