Collapse Volume III, 206–229


Matisse-Thought and the Strict Quantitative Ordering of Fauvism


The revolution inaugurated in painting by Matisse during his ‘Fauvist’ period of 1905-6 consisted in substituting for the traditional qualitative conception of painting, subordinated to the representation of (the forms of) things and/or the exposition of the medium, a rigorous, intensive conception for which the reciprocal differential quantities of colours are their qualities, no longer being covered or mediated by phenomenal qualities in whose service their creative power had hitherto been placed. The intensity of colours, which Matisse pushed to its full extent, will fuel the expansiveness of the canvas, energising it from within, ultimately taking it beyond its limits, in other words beyond the Canvas-Form of painting. But this could only be achieved through a ‘strict quantitative ordering’ at odds with any post-romantic understanding of Fauvism, and implying a rigorous new constructivist conception of expression. An appreciation of Matisse’s experimental practice during this period allows a new understanding of the significance of Fauvism for his later work; whilst also reaffirming the philosophical pertinence of a Nietzschean-Deleuzian thinking of intensity and extensity, the qualitative and the quantitative…