Henri Matisse utilizes the tactic of reduction in a way that is highly indicative of his time. Despite those who would claim “there is nowhere in his work that can you find…any reference to the momentous events of his time”, Matisse’s employment of reduction as a form of escapism “to a sheltered haven where only a sense of comfort and joy exist” are a reference for the need of refuge in such moments times, and therefore, a reference to the times themselves (Artfactory). Matisse uses reduction in order to strip away the unessential so that only his focus and message is most obvious to the observer, because in a time of such upheaval, it can be hard to find joy and comfort. However, through Matisse’s reductionism, we are able to enter the world he is trying to share with us; we are able to enter Matisse’s stripped down and refined version of reality so that we can rediscover the joys and comforts that never left us, but rather, have been obscured by the moments clutter of life in Matisse’s time. By making “the language as uncluttered as possible, to try to find just the right words to convey an idea”, we can best ensure that the user experiences our piece with clarity, allowing our language and message to be unambiguous (Kim).
Consider, however, if one’s goal was not clarity, but perhaps, ambiguity, and confusion. Minimalism and reductionism have long been cornerstone’s in my design philosophy, however, Matisse’s explicitness behind his reductions further clarifies why
one would employ minimalism. In our current moment, the most powerful and watched man in the world frequently chooses to obscure the truth surrounding his connections to Russia and the Russian interference in the 2016 election. As an autocrat, he think’s he’s tough by keeping people on their feet; keeping them guessing. Trump believes that by continuing to lie about the Russian affair, by claiming he believes Putin when he’s abroad, and backtracking later, that he’ll be able to keep the truth obscured and confuse the public. For Trump, especially when it comes to both Russia and Russian interference, there is no clear dialogue, principal, or rationale other than “FAKE NEWS”. Unlike Matisse who uses reduction as a method to highlight the truth, Trump uses volume and clutter (in terms of media coverage) to attempt to obscure the truth about his relationship to Russia. For my piece, I’ve overlaid some of Trump’s earliest statements praising and uplifting Putin on top of a side profile photo of Trump. By superimposing the physical manifestation of Trump’s fog of confusion onto his profile, I wish to wed Trump’s actual profile (as a person) to the principals of confusion and obscurity. Additionally, I used a grey serif font over a sans-serif font as a way to further emphasize clutter as opposed to the more minimalist sans-serif fonts. More specifically, I choose to use Times New Roman for it’s invocation of tradition and the idea of a “New Rome” or second phase of Rome, which quite arguably could be realized in the collapse of the Roman Republic into the autocratic Roman Empire. Many have drawn connections between America’s and Rome; hopefully those who know their history can see the bridge. Essentially, I am seeing to leverage Matisse’s conceptualization of minimalism in the negative or inverse as it applies to Trump. However, I would also like to highlight the stark contrast to the minimalist white areas
which serve to show that if one is able to step free from Trump’s web of words, his mission and tactic is quite clear. When the web of words falls away, Trump’s strategy and intention becomes so clear in fact, that everything else, all the other distractions, simply melt away. Overall, I am invoking reduction in the negative sense inside of Trump, while invoking reduction in the positive sense outside of Trump. In many of Matisse’s paintings, he uses the contrast of color between the reduced background and his objects of focus to draw the users attention. Instead of using colors, I have opted to implement the final detail of contrast between regions through the visual difference between the clean white background and crowded Trump figure.