Odalisque, Half-Length (The Tatoo) (1923) by Henri Matisse

Odalisque, Half-Length (The Tatoo) - Henri Matisse - 1923

Artwork Information

TitleOdalisque, Half-Length (The Tatoo)
ArtistHenri Matisse
Art MovementExpressionism

About Odalisque, Half-Length (The Tatoo)

The artwork, “Odalisque, Half-Length (The Tattoo)” by Henri Matisse, dates back to 1923 and is an oil on canvas. It belongs to the Expressionism movement and is categorized as a nude painting (nu). Matisse, renowned for his expressive use of color and form, often delved into the genre of the odalisque, depicting women in an exotic and sensuous manner that was typical for the Orientalist theme popular among European artists at the time.

In this painting, Matisse portrays a female figure seated against a vibrant yellow background that transitions into a pattern of red tones on the right side. The figure has a relaxed demeanor, her hands gently resting one over the other. Markedly, the painting features bold and simplified forms that lean towards abstraction, a hallmark of Matisse’s style. The woman’s skin is painted in a light hue, which contrasts with her green hair. A black cross, which appears to be a tattoo, adorns her forehead.

Her facial expression is tranquil and introspective, with eyes that almost seem to gaze beyond the viewer. The nudity is presented without embellishment, her body adorned only by a simple necklace and green cloth that drapes across her lap. The surrounding space is devoid of intricate detail, which focuses the viewer’s attention on the figure herself. The artist’s approach to color—using it emotively rather than realistically—is evident throughout the artwork, creating a piece that is as much about the vibrancy and mood of color interactions as it is about the subject depicted.

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