The Snail by Henri Matisse

This bold piece of art was created in the early post-war period. It consists of pieces of paper with gouache paint on them. It is a large work and its striking colours are eye-catching.

Matisse came up with the concept for the bright object. However, his assistants played a significant role in painting the paper by hand. A short film at an exhibition in Liverpool highlighted the fact that his assistants were often attractive females. Coupled with the presence of female nudes, this raised the question of whether or not the great artist exploited women. French women first exercised the vote in 1945, and perhaps it is unsurprising that the elderly Matisse does not appear to have been a feminist.

After all, Matisse was born back in 1869. While feminism has made much progress since then, change has been gradual in many periods. This serves as a reminder that the snail is the subject of the iconic semi-abstract.


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