Art of Frida Kahlo and Henri Matisse

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The twentieth century was a major turning point for artists as dozens of newly founded artistic styles were created and admired. Many of the movements contrasted traditional ways of painting, which were most active prior to the 1900s. However, as artistic movements shifted towards unconventional ways of painting artists diverged from the normal path of painting despite their capabilities of following traditional art to start the twentieth century with a wave of modernist paintings. Movements such as Fauvism, Expressionism, Surrealism, Cubism and many more arose that impacted society as well, making them interesting studies to compare. Particularly, comparing the differing cultures and stereotypes within twentieth century paintings is a pressing topic as they both greatly affect the way artists not only depict their subject matter, but how they see themselves as well. At this time, women’s rights were also beginning to be won over, leading to further feminist movements all through to the present day. Stereotypical representations of women were shed off by organizations and replaced with a more prominent, active woman in society. While the artistic movements may not have been an immediate response to this, they still depict the differences in the perspective of the older stereotypical representations with the newer, more independent depiction of women we see today.

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While previous scholarship has been done where it investigates the woman’s perspective on both Matisse’s and Kahlo’s paintings, they have not been directly compared and contrasted through such a lens. As Matisse first emerged as a significant French painter, critics began calling him and his fellow artists “Fauves” or “wild beasts” in French. This is mainly due to the use of bold primary colors. Additionally, they sought to mimic the brushstrokes of Van Gogh. This can be clearly seen through his artworks, which will be shown later on. He was greatly inspired by Impressionism and Neo-Impressionism, where the main painters were Paul Cezanne, Claude Monet, and Georges Seurat. These artistic movements had characteristics such as being outdoors and having pure, soft colors. They were mainly of landscapes and nature without any bold colors or brushstrokes. Thus, once Fauvism came along, primary colors and people, specifically women, became much more prominent in paintings.

On the other hand, during the similar time period, Frida Kahlo, the daughter of a German photographer and a Mexican mother, was one of the leading surrealists back in the Americas. While Kahlo was opposed to having her works placed in a specific category, she used her personal life much more than Matisse did, as she had a significant amount more of personal issues occurring in her life. While it varied depending on the painting, Kahlo used duller colors than those of the Fauves. Her subject matter was similar, although expressed in an entirely different way than Matisse did.

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