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Henri Matisse (1869 – 1954)


Major French artist of the 20th century.
Henri Matisse
I have always tried to hide my efforts and wished my works to have the light joyousness of springtime which never lets anyone suspect the labors it has cost me...
Matisse quotes
There must result a living harmony of colours, a harmony analogous to that of a musical composition.
Matisse
Expression for me does not reside in passions glowing in a human face or manifested by violent movement. The entire arrangement of my picture is expressive; the place occupied by my figures, the empty space around them, the proportions, everything has its share. Composition is the art of arranging in a decorative manner the diverse elements at the painter's command to express his feelings. In a picture every part will be visible and will play its appointed role, whether it be principal or secondary. Everything that is not useful in the picture is, it follows, harmful. A work of art must be harmonious in its entirety: any superfluous detail would replace some other essential detail in the mind of the spectator.




Matisse Henri quotes
Composition is the art of arranging in a decorative manner the diverse elements at the painter's command to express his feelings.
Matisse Henri
Civilization is an active deposit which is formed by the combustion of the Present with the Past. Neither in countries without a Present nor in those without a Past is it to be encountered. Proust in Venice, Matisse's birdcages overlooking the flower market at Nice, Gide on the seventeenth-century quais of Toulon, Lorca in Granada, Picasso by Saint-Germain-des-Prés: there lies civilization and for me it can exist only under those liberal regimes in which the Present is alive and therefore capable of assimilating the Past.
Henri Matisse quotes
You study, you learn, but you guard the original naiveté. It has to be within you, as desire for drink is within the drunkard or love is within the lover.
Henri Matisse
Slowly I discovered the secret of my art. It consists of a meditation on nature, on the expression of a dream which is always inspired by reality. With more involvement and regularity, I learned to push each study in a certain direction. Little by little the notion that painting is a means of expression asserted itself, and that one can express the same thing in several ways. Exactitude is not truth, Delacroix liked to say.
Matisse Henri quotes
It is only after years of preparation that the young [artist] should touch color — not color used descriptively, that is, but as a means of personal expression.
Matisse
For me all is in the conception. I must therefore have a clear vision of the whole from the beginning.
Matisse Henri
[I wouldn't mind turning into] a vermilion goldfish.
Henri Matisse
Rules have no existence outside of individuals: otherwise a good professor would be as great a genius as Racine.




Henri Matisse quotes
I will repeat what I once said to Guillaume Apollinaire: "For my part I have never avoided the influence of others. I would have considered it cowardice and a lack of sincerity toward myself."
Henri Matisse
Impressionism is the newspaper of the soul.
Matisse quotes
I have been no more than a medium, as it were.
Matisse Henri
Matisse makes a drawing, then he makes a copy of it. He recopies it five times, ten times, always clarifying the line. He's convinced that the last, the most stripped down, is the best, the purest, the definitive one; and in fact, most of the time, it was the first. In drawing, nothing is better than the first attempt.
Matisse Henri quotes
"I do not literally paint that table, but the emotion it produces upon me."
After a pause full of intense thought on my part, I asked: "But if one hasn't always emotion. What then?"
"Do not paint," he quickly answered. "When I came in her to work this morning I had no emotion, so I took a horseback ride. When I returned I felt like painting, and had all the emotion I wanted.
Henri Matisse
At each stage I reach a balance, a conclusion. At the next sitting, if I find that there is a weakness in the whole, I make my way back into the picture by means of the weakness — I re-enter through the breach — and I reconceive the whole. Thus everything becomes fluid again.
Henri Matisse quotes
What I am after, above all, is expression.
Henri Matisse
There is an impelling proportion of tones that may lead me to change the shape of a figure or to transform my composition. Until I have achieved this proportion in all the parts of a composition I strive towards it and keep on working. Then a moment comes when all the parts have found their definite relationships, and from then on it would be impossible for me to add a stroke to my picture without having to repaint it entirely.
Matisse Henri
A musician once said: In art, truth and reality begin when one no longer understands what one is doing or what one knows, and when there remains an energy that is all the stronger for being constrained, controlled and compressed. It is therefore necessary to present oneself with the greatest humility: white, pure and candid with a mind as if empty, in a spiritual state analogous to that of a communicant approaching the Lord's Table. Obviously it is necessary to have all of one's experience behind one, but to preserve the freshness of one's instincts.


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