Lagoon Henri Matisse Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Lagoon is a wonderful example of what can be achieved with the minimum of detail. One can truly understand a scene with just a few shapes added, and in this case Matisse put together this ensemble using cut out pieces of paper which were then carefully arranged to create an image in our own minds.

The composition in front of us here captures what seem like cloud formations drifting across the scene. The background features a wide slab of light green, with blue and a darker green column added to each side. Besides the white, rounded shapes is another in dark pink plus a black leaf shape. There is enough to allow our minds to wander, but not enough detail for us to ever be sure about what we are actually looking at within this abstract world. Indeed, it is always possible that actually there is no connection to reality at all, and that these are merely random shapes that do not attempt to match anything from reality at all. That is always the consideration when looking through the work of great abstract artists such as Mondrian, Miro or Rothko.

The artist worked extensively with cut out paintings during his latter years, and really appreciated finding this alternative art form as a means to continue to work when his health would prevent him from working effectively as an oil painter. His imagination and flair were still very much alive and these techniques of cutting out paper could connect directly with his internal emotions which were still thriving. Today the artist is celebrated as an innovative man who really helped to underline the artistic qualities found within contemporary art more generally, and Matisse also helped to keep French art at the forefront of the international art scene.

Some of the artist's biggest highlights remain le bonheur de vivre, portrait of madame matisse. the green line and the dessert: harmony in red, though there is so much more to enjoy from this man's exceptional career. He is still today held in the highest regard, even as new artists spring up across the world and attempt to move things forwards once more. Matisse is known to have inspired plenty himself, and his desire to continue to work even when ill shows an incredible drive to create which we can all learn from, whatever our own interests. He was also someone who would turn art into decoration within his own home, as the obsessive nature of his personality allowed his career to interact with all elements of his life.