Pearls from artists* # 201
* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
Matisse needs to find life difficult. There has to be opposition and struggle: “You come out by your own means,” he says: “The essential thing is to come out, to express that sense of falling head over heals for a thing; the artist’s job is not to transpose something he’s seen but to express the impact the object made on him, on his constitution, the shock of it and the original reaction.”
I sense that Matisse has little faith in the way his painting is feted nowadays. A man of scrupulous integrity, he must wonder how much truth there is in all of that. There is a vein of gutsy courage in him that is as unyielding now as it ever was. Hard times have accustomed him to rely entirely on his own judgment and accept the solitude that this implies.
HM: I’m already a little too official. You need a bit of persecution. When you’ve been controversial and they finally welcome you in, something goes wrong. Very few people can see the picture itself; they just see the banknotes you could turn it into. You love your paintings less when they’re worth something. When they’re not worth a cent, they’re like desolate children.
Chatting with Henri Matisse: The Lost 1941 Interview, Henri Matisse with Pierre Courthion, edited by Serge Guilbaut, translated by Chris Miller
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