Absorption, theatricality and the French painting tradition in Henri Matisse’s work.

ABSTRACT

The article examines the notions of “absorption” and “theatricality” proposed by Michael Fried and retook by Yve-Alain Bois in his texts on Henri Matisse’s work. One of the main questions addressed by the author is the way the artist’s work resists the volatile regime of perception precipitated by industrial modernity and how it urges a modality of attention at one time diffuse and contemplative. In addition, it discusses how this modality of attention, unique to Matisse’s painting, seems to synthesize two opposite aspects of French pictorial tradition: the Rococo dynamic of a flickering gaze and the absorptive state which marks paintings by artists such as Greuze and Chardin.

keywords:
Matisse; absorption; figures of alterity

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