Henri Matisse

I was reading in Jack Flam’s book Matisse on Art today at lunch. And I had to put a quote from the book down because it’s so much in the same line of thinking I’ve been developing largely through writing on NP Forum.

In 1942, he [Matisse] told a radio interviewer: Undoubtedly the instruction given at the Beaux Arts… is deadly for young artists,” and yet, despite his reaction to the Beaux Arts teaching, which included that of the hated Bouguereau, Matisse in 1948 was to write urging the patient study of nature in words that bear a striking similarity to Bouguereau’s on the training of the artist.

Matisse studied in the studio of Gustave Moreau who was probably the most liberal of the Beaux Arts teachers. As Flam writes:

Such thoughts as “Colors must be thought, dreamed, imagined, or I believe neither in what I see nor in what I touch, I believe only in what I feel. My brain and my reason appear to be ephemeral and of doubtful reality. Subjective emotion alone seems to me to be eternal and unquestionably certain,” have strong analogies with some of Matisse’s own statements in ‘Notes of a Painter’: “I am unable to distinguish between the feeling I have about life and my way of translating it.”


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I'm an artist.
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6 Responses to Henri Matisse

  1. johnk823 says:

    Bart and Steve, Here is a link that you will find interesting which gives many of Matisses quotes. They are pretty interesting.


    • trueoutsider says:

      Those are great, John. Hardly know which meditation to begin with. This one really hits me because, again, it’s how I experience painting. I even have it on the About Trueoutsider page. It’s painting as a form of spiritual practice, not a material one designed to feed a market. This is Matisse on the subject:

      I don’t know whether I believe in God or not. I think, really, I’m some sort of Buddhist. But the essential thing is to put oneself in a frame of mind which is close to that of prayer.

  2. johnk823 says:

    Mostlikely, for any new young comers concerned with letting their mind flow and evolve, this quote might be good food for thought.

    A young painter who cannot liberate himself from the influence of past generations is digging his own grave.

    This one single quote seem to drive home the nail.

  3. trueoutsider says:

    I’m not sure if these were on that quote link. I got them from somewhere else.

    I can’t insist too much on the necessity for artists to be perfectly sincere in their work. This alone can give artists the courage they need to accept their work in all modesty and humility.

    One must be sincere, and the work of art only exists fully when it is charged with human emotion and rendered in all sincerity, not through the application of a conventional program…

    Matisse seems to hit every nail on the head. He’s not only the painter’s painter. He’s the outsider’s outsider. I used to go regularly to visit the enormous room at MoMA where they had all their Matisses hanging. It was a paradise of a room to visit. I don’t know what they’ve done at the new MoMA. As far as I’m concerned MoMA is hardly even an art museum anymore. It’s more like an entertainment complex. Their direction over the last decade or more has been a disaster. When I lived in NYC in the 80s and 90s they rarely put on any shows of any quality.

    In the 70s I have publications from any number of great shows, the likes of which one can’t imagine them putting on nowadays… Beckmann, Dubuffet, Nolde, Braque, Turner, … etc. etc.

    Now they mainly hightlight whoever is the latest art star. No attempt to provide illumination from the great 20th Century Modernists whose work built the collection into the greatest collection of Modern Art in the world. The latests shows are to generate big box office. Tim Burton, for example. It’s like a shopping mall, cineplex. And therein you have the story of the contemporary art world in general.

  4. johnk823 says:

    Matisse does seem to have some gret quotes , right along with his artwork. And you are right about some of the museums out there, full of suprises. Its a wonder that an artist even has a chance to express himself without the commercialization stepping in and wanting the greatest chunk of the money. Sign here, and when you do your done for and at the mercy of the money giants. They kill you will prices for framing, promotion cost, entertainment cost (this is for their entertainment), show costs, food cost (this is so they can eat and drink while trying to seel your art), travel cost, shipping costs, printing cost (usually they want you to print 100 giclees of every painting you want to sell and they call them special editions and you get to sign them to make you feel important) and believe me many more hidden cost. Then, if they don’t sell any of your work, well to bad you still have to pay. At most, after everything is said and done you get about 5-10% of what they sold the painting for. The prey on the artist like vultures and try to lock you into a legally binding contract and they basically own you and there is no escape until your paid up in full, no questions asked. I know this for a fact, because he is one of my best friends and got caught up in this triangle of deception and it cost him over $100K. He was so hurt and distraught buy the whole thing he completely stopped doing any kind of art at all.

    The moral to this story is, if you think your work is sellable and want to promote your work, it is better done doing it all your self. End of story for sure.

  5. johnk823 says:

    Here is a link to some of Matisse’s drawings and graphics. Lot’s of interesting drawings.


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