* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
For a young painter, life is difficult. If he’s sincere, if he’s entirely taken up with what he’s researching, he can’t do painting that flatters art lovers. If he’s concerned with success, he works with just the one idea: pleasing people and selling. He loses the support of his own conscience and is dependent on how others are feeling. He neglects his gifts and eventually loses them.
For us, the problem was simple: the buyer simply didn’t exist. We were working for ourselves. We were in a trade that offered no hope at all. So we had fun with any little thing. I suppose people shipwrecked on a desert island must find it very jolly – all their problems have ceased to exist. Nothing left to do but have a laugh, tell jokes, and play jokes. Painters? How could they ever expect to sell anything?
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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Ours is an excessively conscious age. We know so much, we feel so little. I have lived enough around painters and around studios to have had all the theories – and how contradictory they are – rammed down my throat. A man has to have a gizzard like an ostrich to digest all the brass tacks and wire nails of modern art theories. Perhaps all the theories, the utterly indigestible theories, like nails in an ostrich’s gizzard, do indeed help to grind small and make digestible all the emotional and aesthetic pabulum that lies in an artist’s soul. But they can serve no other purpose. Not even corrective. The modern theories of art make real pictures impossible. You only get these expositions, critical ventures in paint, and fantastic negations. And the bit of fantasy that may lie in the negation – as in a Dufy or a de Chirico – is just the bit that has escaped theory and perhaps saves the picture. Theorise, theorise all you like – but when you start to paint, shut your theoretic eyes and go for it with instinct and intuition.
D.H. Lawrence: Making Pictures in The Creative Process, edited by Brewster Ghiselin
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