The Large Bathers Analysis

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Modern art often takes the best of great works and artists and adapts it, adding new techniques and personal styles of each artist. Examining a beloved masterpiece carefully with introspection and openness to emotional impression leads to appreciation and pleasure regarding other artists and their works as well. Our eyes and mind open instead of dismissing the unique.

Paul Cézanne's painting, "The Large Bathers" (1906), was his last and arguably his greatest work. One of the most interesting aspects of the piece is its unfinished quality, which has caused debate among artists and historians alike over whether the incongruity was deliberate or a result of Cézanne's death before the painting left his studio. Regardless, The Large Bathers is
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Joy of Life is a Fauve masterpiece itself, of course, with its brilliant colors and happy, frolicking scene. As we do with The Large Bathers, we feel delight at viewing the figures by peering between trees that seem like stage curtains pulled back just for the sake of our voyeurism. In addition, we see inspirational similarities between The Large Bathers and Joy of Life in the unification of human figures and living scenery. Upon inspection, the sinuous lines of the figures in Joy of Life are mirrored in the arching curves of the trees overhead, which both compares and contrasts to The Large Bathers, in which the figures are as stiff and tilted as the strong-looking tree trunks that stretch high overhead (HenriMatisse.org, n.d., para. 3). Despite sharing similar inspiration for setting, it is as if Cézanne's women are unbreakable and strong almost to the point of losing humanity, whereas Mattise's bend and sway with the raw joy of being sensually human. In fact, unlike Cézanne's goddesses, Matisse’s figures are all so overjoyed with being alive that each nude's size on the canvas seems to have more to do with their serenity and overall emotional level than natural receding perspective. The central dancing figures, who are so beloved that Matisse made separate paintings of them in later works such as "The Dance" (1909), are small in…show more content…
Competitive by nature, Picasso sought to outdo the attention received by Matisse's Joy of Life, creating an early Cubism masterpiece that simultaneously contrasted and reminded the viewer of both The Large Bathers and Joy of Life. Unlike both The Large Bathers and Joy of Life, Picasso's nudes are well aware of our observation, and seem to be posing just for us, instead of being aware of each other as in the other paintings. Additionally disturbing is the looks on their faces, which size us up, assessing us. Indeed, Picasso's women are prostitutes. Each glares at us, the discovered voyeur, coldly gauging whether or not we will choose her that evening (Harris & Zucker, n.d.). Like The Large Bathers, Picasso's nudes are not idealized nor natural, yet there the similarity ends. The women in Les Demoiselles d’Avignon have a primitive, predatory look to them that suggests the pornographic rather than the chaste goddess or even the sensual lover. Their lines are aggressive and angular, sharp like glass that looks beautiful but might actually hurt us. Two of the figures' African masks suggest an almost magical psychological power over us, as if they are the most dangerous and exotic to choose, so with the pointed, phallic-looking table corner in the bottom of the painting symbolizing sexual choice, we choose one of the most
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