With its exuberant palette and nuanced brushwork, Nu dans le paysage acts as Kisling’s ode to the sweet relief of the Midi coast, a daydream from the realities of war-torn Paris in 1918. Ignited by the fuchsia and violet of the foreground, his technicolor nude rests in an almost mythical setting suspended in between the pink heavens and the lush emerald forest. For Kisling, his art was a representation of life’s beauty whether it be a sensuous nude, luscious landscape or a blossoming bouquet of flowers. Kisling thought “a painter must give in to instinct while retaining control over his reason. It is the glory of our enthusiasm, or our passion that we must celebrate. We should read on a canvas the joy that a painter felt in creating it” (quoted in J. Kessel and J. Kisling, Kisling, New York, 1971, vol. I, p. 37).
Inspired by his avant-garde contemporaries, Kisling painted Nu dans le paysage with its flattened brushwork and non-representational color on an extended stay on the Provençal coast. In March 1918, the Germans went on the offensive, launching attacks on the French capital through Krupp canons from over seventy miles away. Terrified by Big Bertha, nearly half a million Parisians left the city for the Riviera. The South of France had long attracted artists to its coast for inspiration, relaxation and sometimes convalescence. Kisling was indeed recovering from the wound he sustained in 1915 as part of the Foreign Legion. In the years following, he returned to his bohemian Montparnasse coterie at his studio on 3 rue Joseph-Bara, the center of it all. This one building housed art dealer Léopold Zborowski and his wife, writer André Salmon, and Kisling and his wife Renée while welcoming frequent visitors like Guillaume Apollinaire, Marie Laurencin, Kiki de Montparnasse, Chaïm Soutine and Amedeo Modigliani.