Depiction of a portrait: Matisse vs Kirchner

Observing the Expressionist artworks of the early 20th century, my students and I compared the French Expressionism of Matisse’s Fauvism with the German Expressionism of Kirchner. We looked for similarities and differences in the different interpretations of portraits.

As we can see in the image below that I used during the lesson (Sorry for the Italian language) we can easily find the differences between the two artists. Even though the subject is the same, a woman sitting alone, Matisse in the left uses lines, shapes, and colors completely different from those used by Kirchner, on the right. The main difference is above all, the message, the general mood communicated by the two images.

Matisse’s painting expresses the joy of living, meanwhile Kirchner’s portrait expresses annoyance, bother, sadness.

The challenge is to draw the same subject in two different ways and techniques: starting from any picture of a person taken from a magazine, we drew two portraits with different techniques and features.

We used wavy lines, soft shapes, and light watercolors for the portrait inspired by Matisse, conversely we used thick and broken lines, sharp shapes, and strong oil pastel colors for the portrait inspired by Kirchner. We tried to express different messages and moods, through the elements of art.

Here we are the students’ works. This activity was done during the on-line lessons and some pictures could be not perfect.

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