Sample Reflection Paper on Art: On Fauvism
This reflection paper showcases the reflection of a student on an art style that they relate to the most. The reflection essay starts with an introduction that contextualizes the reflection paper. The essay discusses basic information about Fauvism and then proceeds with the author’s understanding and reasons for preferring Fauvism over other art forms.
Learning about the different art movements and art styles throughout history has been fascinating for me. It has certainly changed the way I view art. While I have always loved seeing visual art, I never paid attention to the different styles and did not realize that I gravitated toward a specific art style. As we delved into various art styles, I realized that I tended to prefer works that adhere to the style of Fauvism. Furthermore, as I learned more about this style, it made sense why I admire this type of art style. In this reflection paper (check out our guide on how to write a reflection paper), I will reflect on why I, as an individual, am attracted most to Fauvism.
Fauvism is an art movement that arose in the early 20th century (Martin, n.p.). It was inspired by Impressionism from the previous century, which was propelled by the likes of Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Georges Seurat, and Paul Cézanne (Martin, n.p.). One of the key characteristics of Fauvism is its use of colors as a means to communicate the artist’s emotional state and experience of the subject of the painting rather than for descriptive and representational purposes (Martin, n.p.). Thus, works by Fauves are known for their saturated colors that do not necessarily reflect the true colors of their subject. Since Fauvism uses colors to project moods, it values individual expression, focusing on the artist’s experience of the subject rather than on its objective existence. Another characteristic of Fauvism is its use of strong brushwork. While Fauves simplify their art, they use expressive, often textured brushwork.
I am attracted to the Fauves' use of colors in their work and the level of abstraction that comes with it. For me, art is about presenting how you, or the artist, see the world. Different artists have different perspectives, and I think it is more perceptible in Fauvism than in other art styles since Fauves focus more on projecting their experience of the subject than on creating a literal rendition of the subject.
What I find most impressive about Fauvism is that although they do not use the exact colors of the subjects in their paintings, they still manage to conjure a recognizable image. It is not just a still image they conjure, but a live, almost moving image. They capture the experience of standing and seeing that scenery. I disagree with the notion that Fauvism does not stay true to the likeness of its subjects. The colors of each thing on earth vary depending on the light such that tree branches become orange and leaves become a yellowish shade during the afternoon, and then varied shades of blue and violet in the dark. Colors are not entirely permanent and are, indeed, dependent on perspective. So, to project the world as such is, I believe, more truthful than simply painting leaves as shades of green and so on.
The Fauves I found myself admiring the most is its very founder, Henri Matisse. I have not performed a formal art analysis on his works but I have always admired his radical use of colors and lines in his works. In particular, I enjoy looking at his paintings for their light appeal. Matisse has been quoted saying he “…wished my works to have a light joyousness of springtime which never lets anyone suspect the labors it has cost me” (“Henri Matisse”). So many renowned paintings deal with dark subject matter and, consequently, use dark palettes. These are great works in their own way, but the lightness that Matisse’s works exude is rather refreshing. However, what amazes me with Matisse’s works is that although they are light and joyous, they still carry a certain level of intensity that seems to be brought about by the vivid brushstrokes. “The Woman With A Hat” for instance depicts a calm expression on his wife’s face but the colors and brushstrokes suggest the intensity of the colors brought about perhaps by the light as the image was captured (Matisse, 1905).
Another thing I find admirable in Fauvism and Matisse’s work is that they are divorced from traditional techniques that can be quite restricting. What I have noticed among Matisse’s works is that although they are identifiably his due to the use of “shocking” colors, the brushwork, and composition, no two paintings are alike. I cannot help but compare Matisse with Monet whose work I also admire but whose paintings tend to look quite similar. Monet’s brushwork and use of color are distinctive and evocative of moods as well. All his paintings give the impression of looking at the world through a specific pair of glasses but they stay closer to nature’s colors. The colors, although they vary depending on the scene he depicts, are all evidently from the same palette. In contrast, Matisse’s paintings each have widely distinct palettes that depict the world from different perspectives. This is evidence of the Fauvist philosophy of using color to project moods and experiences rather than staying true to nature.
Fauvism is indeed a revolutionary art style that often shocked people when it was still new. Even today, it is not that common to see the art style and, except for Henri Matisse, Fauves are not as well-known outside the art world. For me, Fauvism is a very interesting and relatable art style since they do not overcomplicate their work with too much attention to technicalities. Rather, they focus on simplifying it and capturing their experience of the subject. It is free of the proud attempt at capturing the essence of a subject, only the painter’s experience of it, which is arguably all that any individual knows.
“Henri Matisse.” The Art Story, https://www.theartstory.org/artist/matisse-henri/. Accessed February 6, 2022.
Martin, Tatty. What is Fauvism? Rise Art, https://www.riseart.com/guide/2410/what-is-fauvism. Accessed February 6, 2022.
Matisse, Henri. Woman with a Hat . 1905, Salon d'Automne, Paris.