The Plaster Torso (1919) by Henri Matisse

The Plaster Torso - Henri Matisse - 1919

Artwork Information

TitleThe Plaster Torso
ArtistHenri Matisse
Dimensions113 x 87 cm
Art MovementPost-Impressionism
Current LocationMuseo de Arte de Sao Paulo (MASP), Sao Paulo, Brazil

About The Plaster Torso

Henri Matisse’s “The Plaster Torso” is an oil-on-canvas painting completed in the year 1919 and is a testament to the Post-Impressionist movement. The artwork measures approximately 113 by 87 centimeters and falls under the genre of interior. It is currently housed in the Museo de Arte de Sao Paulo (MASP) in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The painting exemplifies Matisse’s fascination with the human form and interior space, manifested through his unique color palette and brushwork.

The artwork captures an intimate setting, wherein a plaster cast of a female torso is prominently placed on a wooden table. This sculptural form anchors the composition, with its white hue creating a striking contrast against the surrounding colors and elements. To the torso’s right, a vase with an array of colorful flowers adds a natural and vibrant touch to the scene, complementing the stillness of the plaster figure with their organic shapes and multitude of hues. The background of the composition consists of a cool-toned wall, which serves as a backdrop to another artwork featuring a reclining nude, which itself echoes the plaster torso’s celebration of the human figure.

The room depicted in the artwork is given further depth and interest by the inclusion of additional elements such as a yellow cabinet or screen and what appears to be a window or opening, allowing glimpses of a dark, foliated exterior space. Matisse’s application of paint varies throughout the piece, from the smooth rendering of the plaster figure to the more expressive strokes that build up the surrounding textures and surfaces. The use of light and shadow accentuates the sculpture’s curves and volumes, reaffirming Matisse’s skill in creating a dialogue between the two- and three-dimensional realms within his paintings. Overall, “The Plaster Torso” is a serene and contemplative work that captures the essence of Matisse’s innovative approach to color, form, and composition.

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