Reclining Odalisque (1928) by Henri Matisse

Reclining Odalisque - Henri Matisse - 1928

Artwork Information

TitleReclining Odalisque
ArtistHenri Matisse
Art MovementFauvism

About Reclining Odalisque

The artwork “Reclining Odalisque” by Henri Matisse, created in 1928, is an exemplification of the Fauvism art movement and belongs to the genre of nude painting (nu). This piece embodies the bold and expressive use of color characteristic of Fauvism—a style notably pioneered by Matisse himself—while it depicts the subject of a reclining female figure, a theme prevalent in art historical tradition.

In the artwork, the nude female figure occupies the central space, reclining in a relaxed pose on what appears to be a divan or a couch, colored in shades of orange and red. The backdrop consists of an abstracted pattern of green squares, possibly signifying a wall or a screen, which contrasts with the warm tones of the figure and her support. The figure’s flesh is rendered in an array of purples, whites, and pinks, demonstrating a non-representational approach to color that breaks away from naturalistic depiction. Her facial features, while simplified, convey a sense of gaze and presence as she looks outward.

Matisse’s brushwork and use of color create a flat yet dynamic composition, emphasizing form and surface over the depth usually found in classical treatments of the nude. The reduction of detail and the abstract treatment of space and form are typical of Matisse’s avant-garde explorations during this period. This results in an artwork that, while still recognizable in its representation of the human form, challenges the conventional aesthetics of the time and ushers in a new sensibility geared towards emotional expression through color and line.

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