When Henri Matisse painted the Pink Blouse in 1924, he was a successfully established artist living in comfort in Nice. Some twenty years earlier, at another Mediterranean seaport, he had to struggle to shape his own distinctive style. It was Picasso that suggested to Matisse that he and his family spend the summer at Collioure in 1905. It was not a place of sensational beauty, but was a long way from Paris, demanded a minimum of social contacts, had an uncontaminated local life and was dirt cheap.
In 1905, little of Matisse’s innovative mastery had emerged and he seemed to be an artist whom nothing astonishing could be expected. He had no idea that nature could be essentially voluptuous, and being reared in a hideous northern countryside he could not imagine nature as a playmate and seductress. Nature came halfway to meet Matisse, but he had to see that landscape for the first time as it really is and to go on from there to re-create it with a heightened palette.
Remember in 1905, people could accept, albeit reluctantly, the reinvention of trees and nature, but the human figure, the human face, was a horror waiting to be unleashed. Something of atavistic fear was added to the element of aesthetic exasperation when faces were tampered with. This whole venture seemed outlandish and unacceptable; clearly an integral break from the orthodoxy of religious convention. Perhaps there was a secret dabbling and consorting with the jews. Too much Marcel Proust and undue influence and sympathy with the Dreyfus case. Times were changing and like Baudelaire’s eye contact in-between the angelic and the profane, and the Buberesque poetry of social imagination being peddled by Bosh like Solitary Wanderers, an artistic unity within the drama of fragmentation seemed inevitable.
In Matisse’s portrait of his wife, known as Green Line, the burghers and firmers could not believe that a green hat could cast a green shadow on cheeks streaked with pink and red. The colors of Collioure , from Naples yellow to bright orange and from vermilion to violet, were all there in this portrait. And Matisse got them to live together in ways which now seem to us perfectly and completely resolved in an unstable and volatile manner.
Kuspit:But where Seurat’s work was grounded in color theory, Matisse’s choice and arrangement of colors was not, which is why, already in 1905, he painted such fluid works as The Open Window, Interior at Collioure and The Roofs of Collioure. Located on the French Riviera, like St. Tropez, Collioure is also a Mediterranean world of fresh, luminous color and open space, inviting Matisse to abandon the Pointillist preoccupation with systematically applied and scientifically understood color. The Pointillist “theory of complementaries. . . is not absolute,” he declared. Instead, he relied upon “upon instinct and feeling, and on a constant analogy [of colors] with. . . sensations.” “Instinct and feeling” became the catchwords — battle cries — of Fauvism. Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/kuspit1-10-06.asp