We haven’t looked at a nude on this blog in quite some time. I used to feature a nude almost every three posts or so. But lately the nude-a-rama spirit of this blog has waned. As a nude model myself, I am contrite
So let’s check out a nude shall we? I’ve chosen a painting by one of my favorite artists, Henri Matisse. From 1903, it’s titled Carmelina. You can see that Matisse was experimenting here with composition, specifically the juxtaposition of round lines and shapes with straight, right-angled ones: the curvilinear against the rectilinear. The round, fleshy forms of the model’s figure contrast with the mostly squarish shapes of the surrounding objects, except for the blue bottle and decorative design on the mantel. Matisse also gives us the reflection in the mirror, which provides a small peek of himself and Carmelina’s back.
Carmelina, about whom I was unable to find any biographical information, is dominant and full-frontal. She serves as nude figure and nude figure alone. There is no narrative or discernible subtext. The set-up is simply one that Matisse found a pleasing and interesting visual arrangement. You know what I find the most quirky and interesting element in this painting? The blue ribbon on Carmelina’s ponytail. It’s a feminine, girly detail on a model with a serious no-nonsense demeanor. The ribbon also provides, along with the blue jug, a jolt of cool blue tone in a palette suffused by warmly lit ochres. Methinks old Henri knew what he was doing
Carmelina is in the collection at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.