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The Pink Studio

Painting, 1911, 182×221 cm
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Description of the artwork «The Pink Studio»

In 1911, the artist rarely managed to move away from the easel, working on the commission from the collector Sergei Shchukin. He worked so hard that sometimes it led to anxiety attacks. Matisse's wife Amélie tried to prevent such situations and took the artist to long walks, which helped him to divert his attention from work and cope with overstrain.
Shchukin dreamed of acquiring three panels with allegorical motifs. He suggested thinking about such options as, for example, youth, maturity and old age, as well as spring, summer and autumn. When Matisse started to work, he could not follow any of the concepts. Although four large canvases, painted that year, were still combined into one cycle. American art historian Alfred Barr called them Symphonic Interiors.
In addition to The Pink Studio, Matisse's picturesque suite includes his paintings The Painter's Family (kept in the Hermitage), The Red Studio (The Museum of Modern Art in New York) and Still Life with Aubergines (The Museum of Grenoble in France). All works are united by their emphasized decorativeness and strong influence of Eastern culture. The artist himself called such paintings with an abundance of small details of scenery and the emphasis on the interior decoration of the rooms "interiors-still lifes".
The Pink Studio is the lightest of the four symphonic interiors, painted in a transparent watercolor manner. Despite the fact that the style of the picture is far from being realistic, one can easily guess in it other works by Matisse. These are the paintings The Girl with Green Eyes (standing on the floor), The Luxury II (Le Luxe II, hanging on the wall on the left), and even a detail of The Dance panel. In fact, though, at the time of The Pink Studio's creation, the scandalous Dance was already in Moscow at the Shchukin Gallery.
It wasn't the only deviation from the truth. In fact, the walls in Matisse's studio weren't pink. Neither were they red as in the painting The Red Studio. When the guests came to the artist's place and tried to find a pink or red wall, as on his canvases, he replied: "This wall does not exist at all! As you can see here, I have painted the same pieces of furniture against a wall of the studio of a pure blue-gray color. These are the sketches, the studies if you wish; as pictures they did not satisfy me. Where I got the color red, to be sure, I do not know... I find that all these things—flowers, furniture, the commode—become what they are for me only when I view them together with that red. I don't know why that is."
Shchukin came to Paris and bought Matisse's pictures the Studio and The Painter's Family. And then he invited the artist to hang his own works in his house: “Shchukin said to me: 'You'll see something completely new,' recalled Matisse. 'because you know the Mediterranean, and a little of Africa, but you don't know Asia, and you'll get an idea of Asia in Moscow.'"
Having arrived to Shchukin, the artist collected all his paintings in one room – a pink living room, which previously housed the paintings by Degas and Cézanne. The canvases barely fit in two rows, and he had to hang them right on top of the stucco. Paintings, collected together, produced a stunning effect on visitors.

Author: Natalia Azarenko
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About the artwork

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Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Interior

Style of art: Fauvism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1911

Size: 182×221 cm

Artwork in selections: 66 selections