Polynesia, the sky (1946) by Henri Matisse

Polynesia, the sky - Henri Matisse - 1946

Artwork Information

TitlePolynesia, the sky
ArtistHenri Matisse
Dimensions196 x 312 cm
Art MovementAbstract Expressionism
Current LocationMusee d'Art Moderne de Troyes, Troyes, France

About Polynesia, the sky

“Polynesia, the sky” is a figurative artwork by Henri Matisse dated to 1946 and currently housed at the Musee d’Art Moderne de Troyes in Troyes, France. While the stated art movement, “Abstract Expressionism,” is not traditionally associated with Matisse’s work, this particular piece measures an impressive 196 x 312 cm. The vivid coloration and the dynamic interaction of forms serve as a hallmark of Matisse’s style.

The artwork displays a rich contrast of organic shapes against a vibrant blue background, suggesting an aerial view of a whimsical, simplified seascape. Matisse has used a reduced palette with whites and blues dominating the composition, which gives the artwork a fresh and serene feel, reminiscent of a bright, clear sky above a coral reef.

Predominantly featuring abstracted shapes of birds in white scattered throughout the composition, the piece also includes floral and plant-like motifs around the edges and interspersed among the avian forms. These elements may be interpreted as the flora that inhabits a tropical landscape. The cutting of these shapes is clean and precise, attributed to the ‘cut-out’ technique Matisse employed later in his career, where he created compositions by cutting painted paper into various shapes and sizes. The use of this technique enables a certain freedom and fluidity within the work, which is redolent with a sense of movement and rhythm.

It’s worth noting that, although the provided information categorizes the artwork as part of the Abstract Expressionism movement, Matisse’s work is more commonly associated with other art movements such as Fauvism and Modernism. Abstract Expressionism is typically linked to a later generation of American artists in the 1940s and 1950s. Nevertheless, Matisse’s influence on numerous art movements and artists cannot be overstated.

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