The Easel

Matisse & the surrogate figure

Matisse’s studio seems a familiar place. He painted its contents frequently – brightly patterned textiles, furniture, his own works. Why his own works? Referencing “achievements to date”? His nudes could provide a “body-like presence” without the need for a model. Using an image of an image gave him greater latitude to visually rhyme different objects. In his studio Matisse was self-sufficient, his art nourishing itself, “[forming] its own republic of pleasure”.