Henri Matisse. The Red Studio. Issy-les-Moulineaux, fall 1911
Narrator: Take a moment to look all around this painting. Where do you think we are? How do you know?
See all the paintings in this painting?! Don’t forget to look on the walls and the floor. There are a few sculptures, too. Try to find them. And what about on the table? Did you see a ceramic plate and a white box of blue crayons?
This is a painting of the studio where the artist Henri Matisse made his art. You can also think of it as a portrait of Matisse himself, because it contains so many things he made.
Now, take another, close look at the painting. What do you notice about the way he made the works of art in his studio compared to how he made the everyday objects in his studio, like the furniture? Look closely.
Did you notice how the paintings are very detailed and full of color? But the everyday objects – the stools, table, chairs and glass—are simple outlines with almost no details! Making the paintings stand out is one way Matisse lets us know that making art was important to him.
Now, take a step back, turn around and look all around the room you’re standing in. Do you see any similarities or differences between the paintings and sculpture in this room and the ones in Matisse’s Red Studio?
Well, everything in this room was also made by Matisse!
Here’s a secret you can share with your grown–up: Matisse’s actual studio was white, not red. Matisse painted the studio in this painting many colors before he decided on red. In fact, if you look closely you can see that there are layers of yellow and blue paint underneath.