The Use of Henri Matisse’s Fauvism and Pablo Picasso’s Cubism as Portrayed in their Works

The Use of Henri Matisse’s Fauvism and Pablo Picasso’s Cubism as Portrayed in their Works

Most of the time, works of arts are products of the expressive minds of the artists - The Use of Henri Matisse’s Fauvism and Pablo Picasso’s Cubism as Portrayed in their Works introduction. With this, the artists tend to infuse with their works their personal and subjective thoughts regarding a matter. In visual arts, for example, an artist is prone to create a painting to express his personal thoughts, opinion, and most especially, emotions. This way of expressing one’s personal feelings through visual arts was a product of a movement called Expressionism, which bloomed in early 20th century. Two of the most famous and perhaps even the greatest painters whose works could mainly categorize under this movement are Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso.

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            Henri Matisse serves as the initiator of fauve arts or fauvism. Pablo Picasso, on the other hand, is a man of cubism. Although both artists lived in the era where Expressionism was rampant, it still does not mean that they are very much alike. An analysis of their two works could bare their similarities and differences. For Matisse, it would be “Portrait of Madame Matisse (The Green Stripe)” and “Les Demoiselles D’Avignon” for Picasso.

            First, it would be better if the analysis would start in describing each artist and image. Henri Matisse was born in France in 1869 through a middle class parent. Initially, Matisse studied and practiced law but because of an incident that happened to him, he transferred his interest in visual arts. On of his greatest influence was the Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh.

            Pablo Picasso’s situation was very much different from that of Matisse’s. Born in 1881 in Spain, Picasso grew up already exposed to arts. Picasso’s father was an art teacher who saw the great potential of his son at an early age. Picasso studied arts at an early age through private lessons with his father. Because of this, Picasso’s father is considered one of the artist’s earliest influences. Picasso went to France to pursue a higher education.

            Matisse’s “Portrait of Madame Matisse (The Green Stripe)” was finished in 1905. Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles D’Avignon”, on one hand, was finished in 1907. “Portrait of Madame Matisse” was basically founded by Matisse’s revolutionized use of colors, a movement he and his fellow called fauvism. Initially, the movement was a product of Matisse’s experiment on the use of colors. He did not particularly liked to be included with the philosophy of impressionist painters. While impressionist painters used natural colors and soft brushes, Matisse introduced his neoimpressionist philosophy by using violent colors, vigorous lines, and dramatic pattern. Thus, this marked the birth of fauvism that recognized Matisse as its founder.

            Fauvism could be evidently seen in Matisse’s “Portrait of Madame Matisse”. In this particular artwork, Matisse used vivid colors to capture his subject—his own wife. The image can be easily characterized by the use of a green stripe that acts as Madame Matisse’s brow and nose. This green stripe was very striking in Matisse’s painting. Matisse’s use of a small dab of green color was made to gain a more correct image. The painting was one of the works Matisse included in his exhibit, together with a group of artists called les fauves or “the wild beasts”.  The group recognized the use of intense colors and distorted shapes in expressing their artworks.

            On the other hand, Picasso contributed a movement called cubism. From the term itself, this movement is the use of cubes and other polygonal shapes in portraying an image. Cubism lives in the philosophy of creating a sense of space inside the canvass. Aside from geometrical figures and shapes, cubism also incorporates spatial planes, broken fragments, and overlapping lines.  It is said that the Picasso was the first painter who used this kind of technique in visual arts. It was right after the making of his famous masterpiece “Les Demoiselles D’Avignon”.

            For this particular artwork, Picasso used as a subject five images of naked women who wear African tribal masks. The image was easily characterized by geometric planes, which were very salient in the women’s faces and bodies. In addition to this, Picasso used neutral colors, mostly yielding to brownish hues.

            From this, the difference between Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso could be easily seen. While Matisse is dedicated in using vivid colors and distorted shapes, Picasso focused in the use of neutral colors and geometric shapes. However, by analyzing both of their works, it could be concluded that Matisse and Picasso was fascinated in capturing life in their artworks. Matisse’ “Portrait of Madame Matisse” was a depiction of the painter’s own interpretation of his wife. On the other hand, Picasso also used women as his subject. Thus, it can be concluded that one similarity that both painters hold is their use of women in their works.

            From analyzing works of arts, one could see clearly the similarities and differences of various artists as well as their techniques. From analyzing “Portrait of Madame Matisse” and “Les Demoiselles D’Avignon”, it was seen that Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso are both fascinated in the use of women as their subjects. However, it was also sent that Matisse gives more focus in the use of revolutionized colors while Picasso gives more emphasis on geometric shapes and neutral colors.


“An Analysis of Picasso’s Les Demoiselles D’Avignon, and the Cubism Movement”. 29

November 2007.Retrieved on 8 July 2008.

Mallen Enrique (2003). The Visual Grammar of Pablo Picasso. Berkeley Insights in

Linguistics & Semiotics Series. Berlin: Peter Lang.

Nill, Raymond M. (1987). A Visual Guide to Pablo Picasso’s Works. New York: B&H


Plagens, Peter. “Which Is the Most Influential Work of Art of the Last 100 Years?” Art

 Newsweek, July 2/July 9, 2007, p. 68-69

Wattenmaker, Richard J.; Distel, Anne, et al. (1993). Great French Paintings from the

Barnes Foundation. New York: Alfred A. Knopf


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