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Still Life with Plaster Figure by Henri Matisse

Still Life with Plaster Figure, 1906

Henri Matisse

In this still life, the domestic objects — fruits, bowl, and plaster figure — are easy to recognize. The bowl, at right, and the little rug are souvenirs from the artist’s trip to North Africa. The background, though, is harder to understand as part of the scene; it’s made up of vibrant patches of color, unmoored from the constraints of realistic representation. The plaster figure shows how Matisse included his sculptural knowledge, which introduced further play with volume and line in his paintings. The figure is rendered in chalky layers of white paint applied so thickly, the figure almost protrudes from the colorful background.

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