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Formal Painting Analysis

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    The elements of art in Matisse’s ‘Woman With a Hat’ are line, shape, color and texture. The lines of the painting are soft, natural, and textured, and the brushstrokes are left apparent, as opposed to solid, straight lines. In addition, the lines, as well as the shapes, are curved and organic. The shapes of the painting are very circular. Their rounded nature emphasizes the humanity and softness of the woman. Color is the most dominant element of this piece, as the bright and unnatural colors contrast with the realistic elements of the subject.

    Bright and vibrant reds and yellows, such as the reds near the bottom of the painting or in the woman’s hat and hair, are toned down by the more subtle peaches, pinks and greens found in the background. All of the bright colors are kept in balance with the black of the outlines of the woman and her clothing. The texture is almost as important as the color in this piece. The whole painting shows the rough brushstrokes of the artist, and the patches of color on the wall behind especially show the different strokes and texture used.

    The principles of design in Matisse’s painting are unity, balance, and focal point. The texture and brushstrokes, as well as the unnaturally bright colors throughout the painting give it a sense of unity. The shapes of the woman’s hat, and below it the shapes of her dress create a sense of balance. Though they are not centered, the fullness of the hat echoes the fullness of the torso and creates a balanced hourglass shape.

    The focal point of this piece is the woman’s face, and in particular, her eyes. They are in the very center of the painting, as well as in the inner curve of the implied hourglass. Stylistically, the painting is very expressionistic. It is characterized by heavily textured black lines that define the form of the subject, but is sharply contrasted by the bright, unusual colors that give an idea of the artist’s emotional response to the subject being painted.

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