Combination of Art Movements in Le Bonheur de Vivre and Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

1301 (3 pages)
Download for Free
Important: This sample is for inspiration and reference only

Henri Matisse’s Bonheur De Vivre and Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon are paintings of the 20th century that depict the female form in two contrastive ways and in doing so broke away from Classical tradition as well as maintaining its influence. The Classical tradition of Ancient Greece and Rome provide a standard outlook on human form and the ideal approach to creating art. This common history provides many connections throughout the history of art and entertains a wide range of questions in which art critics define what pieces follow their merit. Matisse and Picasso’s paintings are highly criticized throughout their century and have evolved to be one of the most highly influential pieces to this day; when analyzing these two pieces the connections between Classical tradition, Primitivism, Fauvism, and Cubism are prominent in their own work as they continue to challenge the viewers’ eye and response.

Henri Matisse, 1869-1954, was a prominent figure in the Fauvist group and is one of the first individuals to express a curiosity in depicting scenes in a different manner; he challenged the Classical tradition through showing color expressively and not realistically, and included nude figures in a landscape that resemble more traditional aspects, but used them in a conceptual matter. The massive painting Bonheur De Vivre, also known as the Joy of Life, used shocking expressive, bright, clear oil colors and received mixed reviews at the Salon des Indépendants. Matisse states a clear point when he describes the reason for his efforts: “The chief function of color should be to serve expression as well as possible...My choice of colors does not rest on any scientific theory, it is based on observation, on sensibility, on felt experiences...I simply try to put down colors which render my sensation” (Gardner, page 884). Matisse was able to produce a large scale painting to capture the attention of the public and radically change people’s insight on the boundaries of art.

No time to compare samples?
Hire a Writer

✓Full confidentiality ✓No hidden charges ✓No plagiarism

Matisse’s composition depicts an Arcadian landscape filled with flat colors, a brushstroke very delicate and precise yet contains a rough and loose line-work, and bold outlines emphasizing the figures. The piece illustrates a forest, sea, meadow, and sky along with figures at rest and in motion depicting a scene of a place for pure pleasure in a hidden location. Further connecting back to the Classical tradition of this piece, Matisse contains references to the piece Titian’s Bacchananal of the Andrians (1523-1526) concerning the figures and their acceptable poses which happens to be the major focal point in each of these pieces. Henri Matisse was a painter who knew how to evoke a response and gather all his influences into one piece which ultimately became the most recognized paintings in Fauvism; Matisse successfully brought his viewers closely to understand his intentions with the radical colors he used for expression and also the elements of classical tradition to bring them back safely for reassurance.

Pablo Picasso, 1881-1973, was a Spanish painter, sculptor, ceramicist, printmaker, and stage designer who was considered one of the most influential artists in his time and is also recognized as co-founder of Cubism; a well-rounded artist who actively fought tradition with the content he produced and through the art movements he participated in. Picasso believed highly in expressing himself in ways that made sense to him: “Whenever I wanted to say something, I said it the way I believed I should. Different themes inevitably require different methods of expression. This does not imply either evolution or progress; it is a matter of following the idea one wants to express and the way in which one wants to express it.” Picasso produced the painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon in 1907 which exploited a new way to express the female form in a dangerous way. Picasso's use of brushstroke and line unifies the piece in a jarring and striking way to the viewer as each figure is disembodied and put together in an unusual way in which society wasn’t used to. He created a scene that was sketched in numerous sketchbooks in order to find the perfect composition and reading of his painting. Picasso used muted colors of beige, blues, whites, pinks, oranges, greens, and grays in order for the viewers to be focused on the content and the perspective. The figures have thin lines and thick blocks of color in a geometric matter in order to exemplify the timid mood when viewing on this unseen moment. Picasso challenged what art could be and was a wild subject matter to produce at the time. Picasso’s intention revolved around the idea of expressing himself despite the art movement he was mimicking and wanted to make clear that although Les Demoiselles d’Avignon was a piece of exploration, he continued to produce this piece not knowing how grotesque and shocking, yet beautiful it came to be; this inevitability became the main reason this is considered an anti-classical work of art. This painting stands apart from tradition not only in formal terms but in a representation of nude women as threatening, aggressive, and unfeminine rather than as passive figures on display for the viewers. Two of the women appear to have mask-like faces that resembles an African tribal mask, and overall their faces are flat in a Primitive style which shows Picasso breaking away from traditional western style painting. There is a collection of fruit on the bottom part of the frame which indicate a still life operating as an element of design.

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon contains numerous influences from other famous painters and their works such as the Greek Mannerist painter, El Greco in which the painting resembles to his piece named Apertura del Quinto Sello (1608–1614) in terms of stylistic elements and motifs allowing Picasso to stay balanced with his traditional and Classical views. Painted on an 8 x 7.8 foot canvas, he achieved a powerful and overwhelming piece that was achieved through the figures faces and their placement occupying how the eyes move around the piece. Picasso engages his viewer to overcome the spatial relations and distinguish the depth this painting offers; identifying the first woman on the left is opening a curtain into a brothel containing two women lying on sheets and interrupted by the mask-like figures on the right side. The main subject, prostitutes, are human beings seeking out pleasure in the exchange for money as Picasso distorts and deconstructs the form in the purpose of trying to create a tension and fetish that he uses to ward off his own desires through the primitive masks which transforms his subjects completely.

Henri Matisse, 1869-1954, and Pablo Picasso, 1881-1973, do not only derive from Classical tradition but a commonly shared interest in the art movement Primitivism; this period rooted from Imperialism in Western Europe and contained more of a cultural attitude and less of an aesthetic view on Modern art and incorporates elements of African art, tribal objects and other non-Western art forms. Picasso used their commonly portrayed figure of the female nude as a dominant figure that created an atmosphere that revolved around expressions and the narrative of prostitution in a brothel. Matisse, however, used a group of nude figures which a little focus on their expression and more of a guide to help narrate the free and calming atmosphere the location offered. However, each artist concealed their figures identity. Matisse was geared towards the movement of Fauvism containing out of the tube colors and Picasso was more geared towards the movement of Cubism containing muted colors in order to focus on form. Henri Matisse’s Bonheur De Vivre and Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon are paintings that illustrate the female form in two contrastive ways and in doing so broke away from Classical tradition as well as maintaining its influence; these artists incorporated efforts which allowed their viewers to be convinced through the narrative given.

You can receive your plagiarism free paper on any topic in 3 hours!

*minimum deadline

Cite this Essay

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below

Copy to Clipboard
Combination of Art Movements in Le Bonheur de Vivre and Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. (2020, December 28). WritingBros. Retrieved May 27, 2024, from
“Combination of Art Movements in Le Bonheur de Vivre and Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.” WritingBros, 28 Dec. 2020,
Combination of Art Movements in Le Bonheur de Vivre and Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 27 May 2024].
Combination of Art Movements in Le Bonheur de Vivre and Les Demoiselles d’Avignon [Internet]. WritingBros. 2020 Dec 28 [cited 2024 May 27]. Available from:
Copy to Clipboard

Need writing help?

You can always rely on us no matter what type of paper you need

Order My Paper

*No hidden charges