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Yellow Curtain 1914 Painting by Henri Matisse

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Yellow Curtain 1914 Oil Painting
Keywords: Yellow Art   Curtain Painting   1914 Works  

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Yellow Curtain 1914 - Matisse Paintings for Sale

Le rideau jaune
Artist Henri Matisse
Year 1915
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions 146 cm × 97 cm ( 57 1⁄2 in ×  38 1⁄8 in)
Location Museum of Modern Art, New York City

Le rideau jaune (The Yellow Curtain) is a painting by Henri Matisse created in 1915. Its size is 57½ × 38⅛" (146 × 97 cm). It is currently in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Matisse's original title for the painting, Composition, draws attention to its abstract quality. Interviewed in 1931, Matisse explained that the painting represents a view from a curtained window in his home at Issy-les-Moulineaux, including the blue glass canopy that covered the front door.

It was donated to them as a gift of Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, Nelson Rockefeller Bequest, gift of Mr. and Mrs. William H. Weintraub, and Mary Sisler Bequest, all by exchange.

Although Matisse's title for this canvas accentuates its abstractness, notes taken during a 1931 interview with the artist indicate that it represents a view from a curtained window in the artist’s home in Issy-les-Moulineaux, including the blue glass canopy that covered the front door:

The curtain was red, the color of the yellow [represents its] lining and the pattern [was] added by the artist. The green frame of the window suggests the green of the trees outside and the cool contrast of the green of the trees and the blue sky necessitated the large mass of yellow which to the artist signifies the vibration and pleasure he derived from the contrast of trees and sky. It is not therefore a completely abstract picture but a picture which has its roots in reality.

While most of Matisse’s paintings of this period are extensively revised, this canvas returns to an earlier mode of working. As he had in some of his Moroccan paintings of 1912–13, the artist drew the composition then filled it in with color to produce a sense of freshness and immediacy.

One of the climactic instances of Matisse's treatment of the view through an open window, the present picture presents a daringly abstract landscape and frame which are contrasted with the relatively realistic handling of the curtain at the left. The green areas of the architectural border are so flatly treated that the landscape beyond is almost literally a picture within a picture and might even be read as a boldly simplified painting hanging on a studio wall. The curtain is actually red with a green floral pattern, and its reverse side, yellow, is seen only in two places where it has fluttered back into the room as the result of a breeze. Its yellow is nearly identical to the yellow-ocher ground of the landscape, a broad, flatly painted area which vibrates against two areas of relatively pale blue, the sky at the top and the elliptical form at the bottom, an area that might also be read as the pool of a small garden.

In abstract juxtapositions of flat colors such as these the artist foreshadows at an early date the effects of the papiers-decoupes that will crown his oeuvre in the 1950s. Notable is the freedom with which he treats the rectilinear contours of the window, producing, in effect, an unreal arch at the top. Such minor adjustments and dislocations serve to comment upon the rigidity of the picture frame, which is softened chiefly by the curving folds of the curtain, a feature that is itself held in check by the bold black strip that adjoins the picture frame only at the composition's base. While Matisse, like most of the Cubists, would never pass beyond the rendering of the world of appearances, he here touches a degree of abstraction that will not recur in his art until the monumental Snail. In creating these masterpieces of representational understatement the artist does not seem to be posing a visual riddle, as is so often the case with Cubism and its aftermath. Rather, his statement is an unambiguous praise of color in its multitude of possible combinations. The viewer is drawn into a state of relaxation and euphoria through the means of the hues themselves, although a tenuous contact is maintained with the world of everyday, secular perception. In contrast with the intellectual challenge and mental tension provoked by such pictures as Goldfish, with their Cubist conundrums, the present picture is a model of decorative and compositional clarity.

 

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