La pensee-Matisse: portrait de l'artiste en hyperfauve

Alliez, Eric and Boone, Jean-Claude (2005) La pensee-Matisse: portrait de l'artiste en hyperfauve. Paris, France : Passage. 450p. ISBN 9782847420647


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This work aims to show that Matisse's oeuvre is of fundamental concern to contemporary philosophy of art because it establishes the continuity of vitalist thinking. Matisse encountered vitalism through Nietzsche and Bergson, at a time when it was absent from the history of philosophy. Above all, what Matisse offers philosophy is an aesthetics that breaks with every form of ‘phenomenology of art'. Matisse is not a philosopher but his oeuvre is nonetheless the vector of new thought about colour. However, his contribution is not so much ‘the liberation of colour', as persued by both his predecessors (as a spontaneism of the expressionist liberation of the subject) and formalist modernism (in the direction of a purism of painting). Rather, colour becomes the object of a construction of relations between forces whose expressive power is neither purely optical, nor sentimental, nor symbolic, but intrinsically vital – and whose destination is not merely pictorial but environmental. This constructivist and vitalist ontology of colour leads Matisse, ultimately, to the destruction of the painting-form, by exceeding the closed world of painting. By engaging the question of the sensible as such, Matisse thus breaks through the closure of art, without reducing art to language games about art.

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