Pictorial Space

Pictorial Space- is the illusionary, three dimensional space in a painting. 



Henri Matisse



oil on canvas

The painting represents a view from a curtained window in the artist’s home in Issy-les-Moulineaux, including the blue glass canopy that covered the front door (MoMa). It is not completely abstract as it had its roots in reality. The colors yellow and blue stand out most, also the red curtain catches the eye. The space represented by the painting seems to be shallow. It’s hard to find the horizon as the image is somewhat abstract. The lines are not very straight. According to Moma Matisse drew the composition then filled it in with color to produce a sense of freshness and immediacy.


Henri Matisse

The Red Studio


Oil on Canvas

The second work by Matisse resembles his own studio with added color -red. The vibrant colors its what drew me to this work. Silhouettes of furniture are surrounded with negative red space, but the artworks appear in color and great detail. One point perspective creates an illusion of three dimensional space within the room. The whole composition is built around the clock in the middle of the room. The space is quite deep.



Pablo Picasso

Two Nudes


Oil on canvas

The two women in the painting are almost mirror images of each other. The  colors are monochrome. The women looks as if she was carved out of terracotta.  We see the model from an eye level perspective and it also a two point perspective. There is not much negative space in this paining , the background is filled with warm colors.


Giorgio de Chirico

The Anxious Journey 


Oil on canvas

Chirico’s painting is quite dark and eerie. Multiple perspective points were used in order to create an unsettling effect. The title itself suggests the mood of the work, colors like grey and black and sharp lines only add to this.  The space is deep, geometrical shapes create a feeling of order.  The sense of space is created by the black tunnels that seem to have no end.



Henri Matisse

The Rose Marble Table


Oil on canvas

This painting offers a unique experience of seeing a table from a birds eye view and eye-level perspective at the same time. The space in the painting is quite shallow and the objects depicted are little flat. Brown is a dominant color, but the pink marble table stands out from its background as it is much lighter.  Also the pink table seems to be pushing forward and it flattens the painting.


Pierre Bonnard

Basket of Fruit Reflected in a Mirror 


Oil on canvas

As the title suggests it is a depiction of a reflection of a fruit basket. The colors are mostly warm. The composition is built around the fruit basket with vibrant yellow lemons inside.  The space is represented by the frame of the mirror around the basket. It’s in the middle of being deep and shallow. Perspective can’t be easily identified, so I would say that this is a combination of perspectives. The colors flatten the image.


Joan Miro

The Hunter(Catalan Landscape)


Oil on canvas

The landscape is filled with many smaller images, that seem somewhat abstract. There is a horizon line ( the black line on the yellow background).  The dominant colors are warm. Small objects seem to be scattered around the painting creating an illusion of space. Miro’s work is not very deep, however it has so deepness to it.  Again it’s a combination of perspectives.



David Alfaro Siqueiros

Collective Suicide 


Lacquer on wood

The paint was  airbrushed across the top third of the panel and stencils were used to depict the  army of invading  Spanish conquistadors on horseback (lower right) and  Indians leaping to their deaths to avoid subjugation ( MoMA). Commercial lacquer was used to get the luster effect. The work is three dimensional as there are panels sticking out of the work. This offers a different literal three-dimensional perspective.  The space in the painting is created by the lighter tones surrounded by black which creates an illusion of depth. The mood of the work is very dark and tragic.


Paul Gauguin

Still Life With Three Puppies


Oil on wood

The composition of this painting is quite disorienting. The puppies drinking milk are in the third row. In the foreground one can notice apples and pears and in the second row there are wine glasses . The scale of the objects is quite strange as the puppies seem to be the size of the wine glasses.  The colors  such as blue and green are cool. The space in the painting is created by the negative white gaps in between the objects.  The bird-eye perspective makes the experience of viewing this work even more disorienting.


Max Ernst

Two Children Are Threatened by a Nightingale 


Oil on wood with painted wood elements

The scene is dominated by cool colors. Different tones of blue create the illusion of space. The combination of flat surface with  three dimensional wooden house and gate also add to the illusion.   The size of objects represented by the work also creates the space. The city and people in the background are very small while the house in the foreground appears to be big. The space is very deep.

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