Rodney Swan deposited Symbolism and Allusion in Matisse’s Jazz in the group War Studies on Humanities Commons 3 years, 10 months ago
Henri Matisse’s images in Jazz, created during the disruption of the German Occupation of France, were embedded with symbols of cultural resistance, while his text, which he composed after the defeat of the Germans, reflected the transition to a post-Liberation France. The wartime symbols and allusions camouflaged within these images are readily revealed when consideration is given to two carefully devised interpretative filters that Matisse created. The first, a circus theme embodied in its original title Cirque, and the second, the intricate captions that Matisse accorded to each image. Enhancing the visual quality of his handwritten text with his richly drawn arabesques, he created a new text-image dynamic which gave primacy to the image. The paper reveals a congruency between the text in Jazz, which he declared had no relationship to the image, and the essay he wrote at the same time, “How I made my books.” when he articulated a principle he adopted for his other books, the rapport between the image and the literary character of the text.