Henri Matisse and Jackson Pollock Painting styles

Subject: Art
Type: Compare and Contrast Essay
Pages: 5
Word count: 1301
Topics: Art Comparison, Art History, Biography, Painting

Henri Matisse and Jackson Pollock known majorly for their artistic work. The two lived on two separate continents. They contributed in developing new painting and visual art styles in use today. Henri Matisse who lived between the years 1869-1954 was a French artist and painter. He is known to revolutionize the visual arts industry in France throughout the opening decades of 20th century. Henri Matisse is responsible for great achievements in developing the Fauvism painting style.

On the other hand, Jackson Pollock born in 1912 was an American painter known majorly for Drip Painting style. He assisted in developing modern visual art styles in America. He is regarded as the best artist of his generation (Van Dyke 56). Jackson Pollock was a major figure post-world war art movement which was widely known as Abstract Expressionism. Pollock started using liquid painting in 1936 after being introduced to by David Alfaro. 

The comparison Henri Matisse and Jack Pollock art are important in understanding the two different styles (Fauvism and Drip Painting) each of them used. Since Matisse was a French artist and Pollock was an American artist, it is interesting to compare and contrast artist from different backgrounds and setups. Also, the two artists act as a bridge between modern and old styles of painting (Van Dyke 67). For example, fauvism acts as a precursor to Cubism and Expressionism forms of modern art.

Henri Matisse’s style (Fauvism) of painting began in 1901 and existed through to around 1912. It is believed to be the first modern 20th-century art (Carr, Davezac and Elliott 90). The movement lasted for a shorter time due to a lot of critiques and oppositions the movement received from other developing artists of that the time. Fauvism contributed to modern arts such as cubism and expressionism. Fauvism expressed human emotions and the difference between the light and space.

Fauvism existed at a time when people believed that space was empty and the light was as a result of a bright object in the space. This is something Matisse identified in his art and wanted his people to understand the differences through visual expression. Matisse in his Fauvism art used to paint naked women an idea that wasn’t received well by his conservative society. Matisse cultural society viewed nakedness as a sacred thing and should not be exposed to the public. This ideology turned later to be a great controversial between the people and Matisse’s work. 

Fauvism was termed as a loose movement because of the ideologies and values they expressed in their paintings. Many of the paintings centered women as a representation of human emotions. These values were not encouraged in a society that had built itself on the religious foundations of Christendom (a society that was dominated by catholic faith) and Gallicanism. Fauvism movement was motivated and propelled by Gustav Moreau who was a professor of arts at a collage Matisse learned.

Jackson Pollock style of art (Drip Painting) was made during the drip period which started in 1947 to 1950. Pollock’s art had been inspired by Thomas Hart who was his teacher during his impoverished years in New York. The art was further propelled by President Franklin D. Roosevelt when he started Public Works of Art Project which was meant to Jumpstart the country’s economy following the depression era.

Pollock’s art existed in an era where religious beliefs had taken root in Christianity. The whole of America had embraced new modern ways of worshiping in churches. Pollock saw the need of developing paintings that are far away from reality. Need to develop paintings that could not alarm the society on issues of religion and gender discrimination. But at the time of Pollock’s painting, there was the great World War II which might have sparked the heart of Pollock. This is because, in his painting, Pollock is trying to express a sense of freedom. His paintings depict colors which have been randomly chosen to march together.

Further, the colors have been randomly placed to create a beautiful scene. It can then be interpreted that, Pollock’s message is hidden behind cohesion and free socialization. The virtue of togetherness and existence to form a beautiful society that is free and progressive. Another factor which influenced Pollock’s creation was Jazz music. Pollock’s could always listen to Jazz a norm that helped him comes up with perfect shapes (Carr, Davezac and Elliott 77). This factor points to freedom of body expressed in Pollock’s paintings, freeing the body from social and physical constraints.

Visual Analysis

Fauvism movement used bright colors, bold brushstrokes, and saturated colors. The style also left colors which were not unblended. This had an effect on three-dimensional perception. This type of art proved difficult to incorporate all the details. While on Drip Painting, almost all colors are used (Van Dyke 56). The common colors being black, white and yellow. Drip Painting has no specific figure but depicts just a uniform and beautiful mixture of colors. Someone can easily term it as a two-dimensional portrait of colors. 

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Fauvism starts with a very loose outline. This is to sharply outline some few shapes on the face of the drawing before shading it. Fauvism takes restricted borders in the painting space. The idea is to always use bold brushstrokes and to be impulsive. The Drip Painting on the other side mixes bold stroke and slim ones. This is to differentiate between background shading and the painting face. It does not have clear outline since it only produces a scattered coloring paint without a particular shape.

The materials Matisse used in creating his Fauvism painting style were a pair of scissor to transform paper into the world of living things e.g. plants. He also used gouache, white paper, and bright coloring paints. While in Drip Painting Pollock used to water the paint to dilute the paint more. This allowed him to achieve thin and sharp linings. He also used canvass and several paints without considering brightness.

The paintings volume, mass, and size depended on the material used. The texture and the combination of colors were another factors that influenced the physical appearance of these paintings. Drip Painting had a light texture due to faint and diluted coloring while Fauvism had a thick texture due to the type and the undiluted painting.

Drip painting and Fauvism relatively carry the same perspectives and foreshortening. They are shaded by hand and driven by the artist personal thoughts and the message he has to deliver. For example, Pollock needed to convey the freedom of cohesion while Matisse wanted to convey emotions in his painting. The perspectives from which they are created depend on the artist’s surrounding and familiarity.

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The artworks today act as a reminder of how the arts industry transformed to what we have today. It points out the steps that followed from the start of several styles to the fine arts we have in our galleries today. It also acts as a historical reminder of the things happened during the generation of painting. The revolutionary changes and beliefs our people held in those times. They also act as aesthetical valuables in our disposal today. They beautify our surrounding and make it attractive. Artworks also act as training resources today. They are used to transfer valuable skills to our generation. They act as a foundation for painting and drawing. They transform our memories and knowledge. We see through them. Artwork allows a society to convey their messages and emotions today. Today artworks are generally the alternative media of reminding, emphasizing, beautifying and communicating in our societies. 

Did you like this sample?
  1. Carr, Annemarie Weyl, Bertrand Davezac, and Clare Elliott. Imprinting The Divine. 1st ed. Houston, Tex.: Menil Collection, 2011. Print.
  2. Van Dyke, Kristina. African Art. 1st ed. Houston, Tecx.: Menil Foundation, 2008. Print.
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