Still Life with Oysters (1940) by Henri Matisse

Still Life with Oysters - Henri Matisse - 1940

Artwork Information

TitleStill Life with Oysters
ArtistHenri Matisse
Art MovementExpressionism
Current LocationKunstmuseum Basel, Basel, Switzerland

About Still Life with Oysters

The artwork “Still Life with Oysters” was created by Henri Matisse in the year 1940. This oil on canvas masterpiece is associated with the Expressionism movement and falls under the genre of still life. It is housed in the Kunstmuseum Basel, located in Basel, Switzerland.

The artwork presents a vibrant and lively composition that underscores Matisse’s expressive use of color and form. The focal point of the piece is a plate of oysters, each rendered with bold brushwork that emphasizes the texture and voluptuous form of the shellfish. Accompanying the oysters are a lemon and some greenery, providing a refreshing contrast in both color and shape. To the right, a vividly painted knife lies next to the plate, its yellow handle mirroring the lemon’s color and suggesting the action of opening the oysters. Behind the plate, a pink pitcher stands, characterized by a simplified shape and a strong outline, contributing to the sense of depth and dimensionality in the composition.

The background is divided into sections of color, with a diagonal red swath creating a dynamic and unifying backdrop for the elements of the still life. Matisse’s characteristic flattening of space is evident, as he emphasizes the surface of the canvas while simultaneously giving each object a distinct presence. The overall effect is one of balance between representation and abstraction, inviting viewers to engage with the visual feast of colors and forms.

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