Describing Gourds in 1945, Matisse recalled that he had created "a composition of objects that do not touch—but nonetheless participate in the same intimacy." Its surface reveals that he achieved this effect after repeatedly adjusting and transposing forms. The austerity and monumentality of the canvas are complementary to The Moroccans, also of 1916. These qualities may have helped Matisse develop the luminous aspects of the larger canvas. In Gourds, he explained, he began "to use pure black as a color of light and not as a color of darkness."
Gallery label from Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917, July 18–October 11, 2010.