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The devotion of Henri Matisse to the human figure led him to make portraits of many different sitters--members of his family, fellow artists, professionals in other fields, patrons, and various others. At key points in his career, he was also an obsessive observer of himself, creating intense series of self-portraits. This pioneering book, with...
The devotion of Henri Matisse to the human figure led him to make portraits of many different sitters--members of his family, fellow artists, professionals in other fields, patrons, and various others. At key points in his career, he was also an obsessive observer of himself, creating intense series of self-portraits. This pioneering book, with some 200 stunning illustrations, offers the first comprehensive account of Matisse's activity as a maker of portraits and self-portraits. Matisse scholar John Klein goes beyond standard approaches to portraiture that focus on questions of likeness and expression of character. He considers the transaction that produces a portrait--a transaction between the artist and the sitter (even when the sitter is oneself) that is social as much as artistic. Klein investigates the various social contexts of Matisse's sitters and finds that differences among these contexts produced different kinds of portraits and self- portraits with different goals. This was in part due to the personal and social identity of the sitter, but partly also to Matisse's self-perception with respect to the sitter and his goal of engaging the genre as a mode of personal expression. Klein also addresses the vexing question of whether depictions of hired models can be considered as portraits and concludes that they lack the social context that is necessary to portraiture. Through the psychological and contextual examination of Matisse's portraits and self-portraits, Klein throws new light on an important body of work by this influential artist. The author also discusses the portrait practice of some of Matisse's contemporaries--Picasso, Kirchner, Bonnard, Vallotton, and Boldini--to develop fresh insights into the status of portraiture within twentieth-century art as a whole.
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