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Landscape at Collioure was completed by Henri Matisse in 1905 and it featured direct brushstrokes onto an unprimed canvas. It is entirely abstract, coming at a time when the artist was starting to experiment with new ideas for the first time.
The artist has constructed form within this landscape with dashes of bright paint. It is an early sign of his movement towards Fauvism, though at this stage still has a long way to go to truly master that approach. For example, his strokes are longer, but we find it harder to decipher the different elements of the composition. The tones, however, are close to how he worked as a Fauvist, with bright colours and the use of blues, pinks and related colours in that palette. If we look closely we can start to see a landscape appear in front of our eyes, with forms sweeping in from both the left and right, with a perspective pushing through the centre towards the back. That said, we are still not entirely confident in what we are starting to perceive.
The lack of completion found here strikes us that this is actually a study painting in oil, rather than something meant to be presented as a full artwork intended fir display in a major gallery. It is clear that he was working here from emotion, with little real planning. He would have taken several looks at the scene in front of him and then worked quickly to portray it through unmixed paint, just using single lines of colour. In most cases they never overlap, leaving the original canvas still visible in much of the work.
Collioure is a small town in the south of France, right by the border with Spain. It is a picturesque location along the sea, also boasting some stunning architecture from past centuries. Its culture is predominantly catalan, which all together make in an interesting destination for artists such as Matisse, with a number of authors also spending time here. Matisse himself also produced a number of drawings whilst visiting this region, perhaps choosing this medium because of the ease with which he could travel around the landscape with just a few tools on his person. This piece measures 46.6 cm wide by 38.8 cm tall, which is about as small as any painting from this artist and it is now owned by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, USA. They have listed it as a gift and bequest of Louise Reinhardt Smith. Whilst in Collioure, the artist also produced Young Sailor I and Young Sailor II.