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Blue Nude III, Gouache by Henri Matisse (1869-1954, France)
The series of paintings, which are known as the blue nudes, were painted between 1952 and 53 using the gouache découpage method. They illustrate how provocative a simple design can be. Matisse used simple cut shapes to construct the images and uses the colour blue because of its obvious ties with nudity. The pieces of paper used in the découpage technique were all large and every shape in the picture was related to the others. This made the paintings perfectly balanced as is clear from The Blue Nude III.
The color blue signified distance and volume to Matisse. Frustrated in his attempts to successfully marry dominant and contrasting tones, the artist was moved to use solid slabs of single color early in his career, a technique that became known as Fauvism. The painted gouache cut-outs that comprise the Blue Nudes were inspired by Matisse's collection of African sculpture and a visit that he made to Tahiti in 1930. It took another twenty years and a period of incapacity after an operation before Matisse synthesized these influences into this seminal series