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.”