Le Bonheur de Vivre

The Joy of Life, Henri Matisse, Sketch
The Joy of Life, Henri Matisse, Oil on Canvas, 1906

Le Bonheur de Vivre is one of the first paintings that paved the way to Modernism. Vibrant and indulgent, Matisse’s sunkissed naked figures stole the spotlight at the Salon des Independants in 1906. Matisse’s audacious work was extremely provocative given that at the start of the 20th century, nudity was a taboo topic and was frowned upon for the majority of the people. Therefore, this painting was a red flag for most art critics. It would be narrow minded to see The Joy of Life as a painting that focuses on sexual expression. Music, dance, nature and human interaction seem to include some of life’s greatest pleasures and it’s clear that Matisse wanted to portray pleasure without guilt, which for the start of the 20th Century was almost unheard of. Nevertheless, this painting is a joy on its own. Get the pun?