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Painting Modern Life

Explore how early modern artists forged new directions in painting.


Meet the “wild beasts” of the early-20th-century art world.

Landscape at Collioure

Henri Matisse
(French, 1869–1954)

1905. Oil on canvas, 15 1/4 x 18 3/8" (38.8 x 46.6 cm)

In Landscape at Collioure, Matisse applied oil paint onto an unprimed raw canvas, using paint sometimes directly from the tube and often with quick, sketchy strokes. Despite the fact that some of the canvas was left untouched, showing raw material between the strokes of paint, this painting is considered a “finished” work.

Landscape at Collioure represents the moment at which Matisse began to use a more instinctive, spontaneous way of painting that was unparalleled among his contemporaries. The landscapes he painted in the summer of 1905 were “wilder, more reckless than any subsequently produced in his career,” according to Matisse scholar John Elderfield. “In the works of that period color speaks for itself with a directness previously unknown in Western painting, and speaks directly too of the emotional response to the natural world that required changing the color of this world the better to render that emotion.”1

John Elderfield in Museum of Modern Art. Major Work by Matisse, Gift of Mrs. Bertram Smith, on View at the Museum of Modern Art. New York: MoMA, 10 Aug. 1990. Print. Available online:

A paint in which pigment is suspended in oil, which dries on exposure to air.

A work of art made from paint applied to canvas, wood, paper, or another support (noun).

An element or substance out of which something can be made or composed.

The natural landforms of a region; also, an image that has natural scenery as its primary focus.