(Open Window, Collioure: Henri Matisse, 1905)

Last week in my French class, we had to print out a painting by Matisse and bring it to class. That day, the classroom transformed into an art museum. With scotch or masking tape, we hung our masterpieces around the room, eager to play the guide for our individual paintings.

I chose the Open Window, Collioure. I loved the colors and the way the doors were flung open for a view of the harbor. This painting is part of a movement called Fauvism. Bright colors, strong brushstrokes, and a lack of defined forms or shadows characterized this movement. It was a step away from imitating the natural world through art. Instead, art exerted its own reality and became something entirely separate from the source.

To me, this painting represents freedom. There is a freedom of expression through the bold colors, but there is also a freedom in the invitation the painting extends to the viewer. The sailboats beckon and invite us to wander the open waters in search of the place where sea meets sky. The doors are a permanent fixture of the apartment and offer stability, a chance to observe the harbor’s serenity while removed from the scene. The different brushstrokes (broad and straight for the interior, narrow and wavy for the exterior) emphasize this contrast. We are free to choose. Do we stay or do we go?


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