Icarus (Icare) (1943-44) by Henri Matisse

Icarus (Icare) - Henri Matisse - 1943 - 1944

Artwork Information

TitleIcarus (Icare)
ArtistHenri Matisse
Date1943 - 1944
Art MovementAbstract Expressionism
Current LocationScottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, UK
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About Icarus (Icare)

Henri Matisse’s experimental art form, the cut-out, paved the way for an innovative artistic representation. One of his most famous works of this style is “Icarus,” which is part of a larger collection called “Jazz.” The illustrations in “Jazz” were created using maquettes made out of cut and pasted colored papers and printed with pochoir.

“Icarus” portrays the story of Icarus from Greek mythology in stunning colors. The ill-fated figure is depicted entirely in black as he numbly plunges to his death through a brilliant blue space that flares up with bursts of energetic yellow suns. These contrasting colors symbolize death and life, respectively.

Matisse gained inspiration from Ancient Greece to create this work that explores loss, moments before defeat, and false hopes. He masterfully crafted the composition drawing attention to Icarus’ distressed pose that captures both physical agony and mental anguish following his failure to heed his father’s warning not to fly too close to the sun on wings made from wax feathers.

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