The Clown (1943) by Henri Matisse

The Clown - Henri Matisse - 1943

Artwork Information

TitleThe Clown
ArtistHenri Matisse
Art MovementAbstract Expressionism

About The Clown

“The Clown” is an artwork by Henri Matisse completed in 1943 as part of his Jazz Book series. This work belongs to the figurative genre and is associated with the Art Movement known as Abstract Expressionism, despite the fact that Matisse is more commonly recognized as a precursor to modernist movements such as Fauvism.

The artwork presents broad fields of vibrant color punctuated by bold, graphic shapes. A central figure, ostensibly the eponymous clown, is rendered in white with touches of red, appearing to be in motion against a black backdrop. This figure is flanked by bright yellow and dark blue elements, with the latter carrying a sequence of vertical bars across the top and bottom of the composition. Matisse’s use of color and form in this piece is representative of his later work in cut-outs, where he explored the expressive power of color as well as the dynamic equilibrium between shapes and the spaces they occupy. The overall effect is one of rhythmic contrast, a fitting tribute to the musical genre that inspired the series.

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