Henri Matisse's "Still Life with Lemons"

 

This is a still life from Matisse, "Still Life with Lemons", 1943, that I discovered recently. This piece represents everything that I love in his still life paintings.🍋🍋🍋

The red background with the loosely painted wallpaper motif, and the use of the exact same color for the lower portion of the table contribute to the the abstraction here. The effect is that the lower part of the table is almost indistinguishable from the background. The white table surface becomes almost a floating white rectangle supporting the lemons and the vase.

Also, notice how he uses the white space around the flowers and elements of the bouquet, the lemons, and the loosely painted elements supporting the table. This use of white space, which jumps out against the red, creates both visual movement, AND a sense of very playful abstraction. We know we are looking at a still life with flowers and lemons. But Matisse always plays with our perception. The objects are solid, but overall effect is fantasy and whimsy.