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Arab coffee house

Painting, 1913, 176×210 cm

Description of the artwork «Arab coffee house»

"Arab coffee house" enters the Moroccan cycle of Matisse. The artist first went to Morocco in 1911. It was the unhurried East that enabled him to get out of the framework of Fauvism - finally, Matisse would never give up on his ideas. The artist himself on this occasion said: "Travels in Morocco helped me to make the necessary transition and allowed me to regain a closer connection with nature, which could not be achieved with the help of an alive, but still somewhat limited theory, what Fauvism has become".

In Morocco Matisse refuses sharp contrasts of Fauvism, he "settles down", but not in the sense of loss of sharpness of feelings and "invitations" of new paintings - on the contrary, external contrasts are replaced by depth, subtlety, sensitivity and special, Matisse grace.

"Arab coffee house" depicts the desert and the people sitting on the sand. The space itself is dense turquoise, sand and air merge. But the figures and faces are fiery, hot. No specifying and distracting details, faces are just a color. Due to the lack of details, the picture acquires the properties of timelessness, as if it describes the eternal order of things: it was so, so it will be for ever and ever, so it is now. The faces will replace each other, and hot coffee in the sand and desert will remain.

In the foreground - an aquarium with red fish, this Matisse's favorite subjects. The orange frame and sharp black arches enhance the sensation of heat and immobility, delineating, limiting this space. And we know for sure that there is not a single breeze blowing. A hot mirage, a meditative state, there is nowhere to hurry. This is Arabic coffee, such is the Arab coffee house.

This picture is extremely interesting because it can be considered a harbinger of decoupage techniques, which the artist will actively use in the 40-50-ies. For the first time he uses it to create a huge panel for the Barnes Foundation- simply because otherwise it was not possible to cover such volumes. And later it will be his only way to create: a seriously ill Matisse will not be able to hold the brush. But the "Arab coffee house", in principle, could be created in the technique of decoupage. Schematically presented figures, thick dense background, large details ...

Author: Alain Esaulova
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About the artwork

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Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Allegorical scene

Style of art: Fauvism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1913

Size: 176×210 cm

Artwork in selections: 33 selections

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