* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
I did sculpture because what interested me in painting was to bring some order to my brain. It was a change of means. I took to clay as a break from painting; at the time I’d done absolutely everything I could in painting. Which means it was still about organizing. It was to put my sensations in order and look for a method that really suited me. When I’d found it in sculpture, I used it for painting. To come into possession of my own brain: that was always the goal, a sort of hierarchy of all my sensations, so that I could reach a conclusion.
One day, visiting Carriere at his house, I told him that. He replied: “But, my friend, that’s why you work. If you ever managed it, you’d probably stop working. It’s your reason for working.”
In painting – in any oeuvre – the goal is to reconcile the irreconcilable. There are all kinds of qualities in us, contradictory qualities. You have to construct something viable with that, something stable. That’s why you work your whole life long and want to keep on working until the last moment… as long as you haven’t admitted defeat or lost your curiosity, as long as you haven’t settled into a routine.
Chatting with Henri Matisse: The Lost 1941 Interview, Henri Matisse with Pierre Courthion, edited by Serge Guilbaut, translated by Chris Miller
Comments are welcome!
A: I certainly do! When I left the active duty Navy in 1989, my co-workers threw a farewell party. One of the parting gifts I received was a small plaque from Tina Greene, a young enlisted woman whom I had supervised. The words on the plaque deeply resonated with me, since I was about to make a significant, risky, and scary career change. It was the perfect gift for someone facing the uncertainty of an art career.
Many years later Tina’s plaque is still a proud possession of mine. It is hanging on the wall behind my easel, to be read every day as I work. It says:
“Excellence can be attained if you…
Care more than others think is wise…
Risk more than others think is safe…
Dream more than others think is practical…
Expect more than others think is possible.”
Comments are welcome!