(France 31 Dec 1869 – 03 Nov 1954)
34.4 x 26.7 cm image; 46.3 x 29.2 cm sheet (irreg.)
At one time Matisse was regarded as being as radical as Picasso. During the period in which he made this and other memorable prints, he was the acknowledged, if reluctant, leader of the fauvist movement. Rather than an organised school, fauvism represented a propensity in art that took late impressionist and post-impressionist pictoriality towards something rawer and more expressive. Historically, fauvism is a bridge to expressionism. Brutal reductions of form as much as brilliance of colour characterised the style. This black-on-white woodcut is thus a wholly fauvist work. Despite the simplicity of the composition, Matisse convinces the viewer of two things: first, that this is a record of a real and fully-rounded human presence studied from life; and, conversely, that it is no more than a terse and primitivistic arrangement of lines deployed across a surface. The tension between these extremes, and the fact of their simultaneous functioning, contributes to the almost fetishistic status of the work.
Art Gallery Handbook, 1999.
Nicolas Draffin, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Prints & Drawings', pg. 109-124, Sydney, 1988, 120 (illus.).
Renée Free, Modernism 1900-1950: prints and drawings from the collection, Sydney, 1994. no catalogue numbers
Renée Free, Fin de Siècle, Sydney, Jan 1994. no catalogue numbers
Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Western Collection: Works on Paper', pg. 78-92, Sydney, 1999, 87 (illus.).
Terence Maloon, Paths to abstraction 1867-1917, Sydney, 2010, 153 (illus.).
Peter Raissis', Look: 1953-2003 celebrating 50 years, 'European works on paper', pg.56, Newtown, May 2003, 56 (illus.).
Caroline Turner and Roger Benjamin (Editors), Matisse, Brisbane, 1995, 185 [illus.]. cat.no. 35, as 'Petit bois clair'
Judith Wright, Look, 'Building the Collection', pg. 6-7, South Yarra, Apr 1999, 6 (colour illus.).
Fin de Siècle: posters prints drawings from the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 15 Jan 1994–13 Mar 1994
Modernism 1900-1950: prints and drawings from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 23 Jul 1994–25 Sep 1994
Matisse: The art of drawing:
Paths to abstraction 1867-1917, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 26 Jun 2010–19 Sep 2010