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Derain’s “Large Bathers” and Matisse’s “Pink Nude”

The given comparative analysis of art works will focus on Andre Derain’s Large Bathers and Henri Matisse’s Pink Nude. The painting Large Bathers presents and depicts a less sexualized form of nudity. In order to conduct a thorough analysis, one needs to take into account a number of parameters of a painting, such as color, line, space and mass, scale, and composition. The painting illustrates a group of naked women in some form of lake or river, and the background indicates that it is taking place in nature. The coloration is mostly dark, and the lines are bold with clear separation of entities. In the case of space, there is a feeling of constraint and tightness due to objects and people being large and the frame being small. Every object projects its weight, and people are depicted on the heavier side. The scale of the painting is relatively close to the viewer, which makes the people and objects appear bigger. The general combination and composition of elements are outstanding because the viewer can feel the attention and presence of these individuals.

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In addition, the painting communicates meaning to the audience through semiotics. It is stated that semiotics-based analysis all the elements into consideration, but focus primarily on symbolism and signs. Therefore, the painting and its materials express a specific form of attention and awareness, which does not startle a viewer, but instead calms him or her down.

Pink Nude

Henri Matisse’s Pink Nude is another example of eroticism and nudity with a minimized sexual undertone. The image depicts a naked woman on some sort of plaid surface with a lantern as a sole object. The coloration is brighter than of the former illustration, and nudity is more sexualized. Similarly, to Derain’s painting, the lines are bold and clearly separate the woman from the background. The setting feels more spacious compared to Large Bathers due to the lack of a multitude of items and people. However, the general mass of the depicted individual is increased due to the absence of proportions of the human body. The latter complemented by the scale of certain parts of the painting, such as oversized legs and arms. The limbs are depicted to be disproportionately large than the head. The overall composition of all the elements conveys the appreciation of female sexuality and the erotic aspects of the body.

Matisse’s Pink Nude communicates the beauty of femininity and erotic attention, but the imagery does not contain strong sexual elements. There is a lack of prominent eyes, which does not draw as much attention as Large Bathers, because the latter picture contains a woman with distinctive eyes. The painting aims to send a message of positive sexuality through a cartoonish and unusual template of bright colors and disproportionate human body components. In both cases, the meaning of the picture can be considered to be hidden deeply that it may not even be possible to figure it out, although the objects painted on it stand out clearly and prominently, being part of the whole. However, if one ignores this one-sided view and use the cultural approach, involving the semiotic and symbolic methods of reading the picture in hermeneutic analysis, he or she will be able to see another aspect. he meanings and context of signs and symbols, the sequence and structure of which make up the text as a whole, can be interpreted by each author in their own way.


Arnold, Dana. Art History: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020.

D’Alleva, Anne. Look! Art History Fundamentals. Upper Saddle River: Pearson, 2010.

Derain, Andre. “Large Bathers.” Archive. 2020. Web.

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Farrington, Lisa. African-American Art: A Visual and Cultural History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017.

Matisse, Henri. “Pink Nude.” Henri Matisse. 2020. Web.

Meyers, Mary Ann. Art, Education, and African-American Culture: Albert Barnes and the Science of Philanthropy. New York: Routledge, 2017.

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