Tag Archives: Matisse

The Visionary Work of Gustave Moreau

Oedipus and the Sphinx

Symbolist art was birthed from the expression of emotion and ideas. Emerging at the time of the French Literary movement, symbolist paintings became popular in the late 1800s. Paving a path for this adventurous style was Gustave Moreau.

Moreau was known for portraying historic, religious, mythological, legendary and fanciful characters with techniques that combine exotic romanticism, symbolism and imagination. His many paintings shimmer with gem-like qualities, which he used to cast visual scenes that could only be described as other worldly.

By the time the symbolist movement dominated France in the 1880s, Moreau had been showcasing those types of paintings for nearly two decades. After years of receiving recognition for his accomplishments in this genre, he began teaching and encouraging this style in young artists just as he was encouraged by his parents and mentors.

Self Portrait

Self Portrait

Gustave Moreau was born in Paris in 1826. His parents were people of comfortable means; his father, an architect and his mother, the daughter of a prominent man. When Moreau shared his dreams of pursuing art as a career his parents supported him and tried to open whatever doors they could.

 

 

When Moreau was about 20 years old he was paired with teacher Francois-Edouard Picot, a neoclassical painter who was able to offer him sound lessons and a solid art foundation. During this time, the aspiring painter spent much time creating oils sketches, large paintings and studying nudes.

After gaining some experience with Picot, Moreau was later taken under the wing of Theodore Chassériau, a romantic painter who excelled in classicism, too. It has been said that Chassériau’s romantic style, exemplified through lighting, color and character was also evident in Moreau’s work.

Moreau spent much time with Chassériau and even moved next store to the artist. During this time, he grew to appreciate Paris, which was alive with fashion, literature and art salons. When Chassériau passed away at the young age of 37, Moreau was devastated. He became sad and aggravated with his work.

The Toilet by Gustave Moreau

The Toilet by Gustave Moreau

One year after his friend and mentor died, Moreau traveled to Italy where he would study artwork from the Renaissance era, as well as Roman and Grecian architecture. He returned to Paris in 1859 and lived a rather isolated life where he mostly concentrated on his artwork. While he appreciated the stylistic elements of romanticism, he felt his characters were drab. At this time, he began using Persian, Indian and Japanese art to fuel his imagination and inspire his characters. This increased the uniqueness of his style. Finally, Moreau was ready to show the world his work.

Moreau’s first piece to receive notable attention was Oedipus and the Sphinx. He exhibited this piece in 1864 at the Salon, which is the beginning of his most prominent season as an artist. As he straddled the eras of Romanticism and Realism, Moreau offered art enthusiasts a creative explanation of history by infusing his work with mystique.
Other important Gustave Moreau works include The Young Man and Death (1865), Head of Orpheus (1866), Jupiter and Europa (1868) and The Saint and the Poet (1869). Then, after leaving the public eye for seven years Moreau emerged with Salome Dancing (1876) and The Sphinx’s Riddle Solved (1878) among others.

Throughout his years of exhibiting artwork at the Salon he won many awards and was made knight of the Legion of Honour in 1875. In 1892 Moreau began teaching at Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Three of his students were Marquet, Matisse and Rouault.

When Moreau died in 1898 over 8,000 pieces of artwork were found in his home. This work was not seen in his lifetime but is displayed today at the Musée Gustave Moreau. Different from other galleries, Moreau built this home and designed the gallery before he died. Today, it is a popular destination for art enthusiasts visiting Paris.
Gustave Moreau was ahead of his time as a symbolist painter. With his infusion of color and light, and use of cultural techniques, his imaginative works will never go out of style. They are remarkable, distinct and ever powerful.

However, this post is meant to recognize his artist style and some major pieces. For those who want to read more of Gustave Moreau’s story, visit this link: http://www.segmation.com/products_pc_patternset_contents.asp?set=GMR. Also, Segmation is proud to offer 26 digital Gustave Moreau patterns. By downloading these paint by numbers masterpieces, you can emulate one of the most fascinating artists who ever lived.

Enjoy the 26 Gustave Moreau Patterns Segmation has for you and continue to learn and celebrate the life of a great artist.

Sources:

Gustave Moreau Art Renewal

Encyclopedia Gustave Moreau

Gustave Moreau Museum

Read more Segmation blog posts about other great artists:

William Glackens – American Realist Painter

Thomas Moran – American Landscape Painter

William Merritt Chase – American Impressionist Painter

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Introduction to Fauvism (www.segmation.com)

Henri Matisse, Woman with a Hat, 1905, Oil on Canvas

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How would you describe Henri Matisse’s painting, shown above? First you will probably note that it is a portrait of a woman – however, it is an unusual portrait because of its strange use of color and its choppy, energetic brushstrokes.

This painting by Matisse was part of the Fauvist movement, which lasted only a few years in the early 20th century in France. The French word “Fauve” means “wild beast”. When you look at this painting, can you figure out why the word for “wild beast” came to symbolize this art movement?

The Fauvists interpreted the world around them through color, but they did not seek to represent the world using real-life colors. Instead they utilized bright, bold colors in unexpected places. For instance, take a close look at the woman’s face in the painting above and notice all the different greens that Matisse used to shape her face. Matisse’s composition is so masterful that the greens don’t seem out of place, even though in real life her face wouldn’t normally appear green.

Due to Matisse’s balanced use of bold color and his strong, painterly brushstrokes, he is able to depict the energy, or essence of the people and places around him. These two visual characteristics defined the Fauvist movement, which evolved from a combination of Post-Impressionism and Pointillism.

The most well-known painters of Fauvism are Henri Matisse, Andre Derain, and Maurice de Vlaminck. They created landscapes and portraits that can be described as “simplified” to the point where they are almost abstract – yet they are still recognizable as landscapes and portraits. Even though the movement was short-lived, the Fauvist artists left behind a body of work that is both visually and mentally stimulating.

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Maurice de Vlaminck, The River Seine at Chatou, 1906, Oil on Canvas

A Closer Look at Complementary Colors www.segmation.com

"The Dance" by Matisse

Take a close look at Matisse’s painting The Dance, shown above. What is it about this painting that makes it “pop”? The dancers seem like they’re almost floating on top of the background. Why is that?

Matisse was a master colorist, so he chose his colors carefully. He knew that when orange and blue are placed next to each other, they each appear brighter and more intense. Here’s why:

Orange and blue are complementary colors. Complementary colors have a special relationship because they are opposites on the color wheel. Take a look at the color wheel below:

You’ll notice that yellow and blue are also complementary colors. Red and green make up another complementary pair.

When complementary colors are placed next to each other in a painting or drawing, the artwork seems to vibrate. Complementary pairs can make an artwork more eye-catching and dynamic. For this reasons, many artists (like Matisse) make the conscious choice to use complementary colors in their compositions.

If you look closely at the color wheel, you’ll notice that the complement of each primary color is the combination of the other two primary colors. This means that:

  • Yellow + Red = Orange, which is the complement of Blue.
  • Red + Blue = Purple, which is the complement of Yellow.
  • Blue + Yellow = Green, which is the complement of Red.

When you examine these colors on the color wheel, you can see how they are related. You will also note that the complements of the primary colors (red, yellow and blue) are all secondary colors (green, purple and orange).

The next time you make art, keep the complementary colors in mind to see if you can make your painting more dynamic.
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