In 1935 Matisse, simplifying his art, abandoned shading altogether
and made the figure as flat as its background, relying on line
and the "optical" properties of color-oppositions of
warm and cool color -- to give it relief. In this picture it
defines itself against the wall by emblematic curves and counter-curves,
and by the airy blue of the dress contrasted with the tile-like
plots of color around it. The artist, attacking head-on the problem
of flat easel-painting, came dangerously near the poster in these
With sweat and concentration, he went too often where his
feeling could not quite follow. Starting with a somewhat realistic
statement of the subject, he would in this period carry a painting
through as many as twenty-two different stages in order to arrive
at the most "permanent" definition of his "sensation."
(The wonder is that the paint still looked fresh in the end.)
But such studiedness made him his own art critic, and he would
too often be satisfied with only the most static of resolutions.