I have already quoted Matisse once on his idea of art providing a “mental chair” to the observer, but here it is, shown in all its glory in a small painting of a reclining woman (1946).
What’s unusual about it?
The woman is taken from above, as if Matisse were hovering over her with his easel. The perspective is twisted so much the room resembles a capsule or a cocoon. The girl is totally relaxed: look at the way Matisse painted her legs.
She appears to be both lying down and flying with the chair cover becoming her wings.
Do you recall Cezanne’s theorem that everything is made of cyliners, pyramids, balls and boxes? Matisse says, at least in this painting, that everything’s built mostly of hearts, a blue box and a black square.
And if the hearts are more or less an obvious though sentimental choice, what’s the role of the black box (linked to the chair by the red border)? And what about the space of green and yellow dots that resembles a field with flowers behind the chair?
Is it a door to this warped room of calm soaring? A black square that the observer can use to come and leave?
And what about the plant that resembles a birdview of a palm tree? It does help to build up the flying sensation, but was it its sole purpose?
Any ideas? I’d love to hear what you think.