Henri Matisse on Art and Painting
Henri Matisse: Expression
" What I am after, above all, is expression. Sometimes it has been conceded that I have a certain technical ability but that, my ambition being limited, I am unable to proceed beyond a purely visual satisfaction such as can be procured from the mere sight of a picture. But the purpose of a painter must not be conceived as separate from his pictorial means, and these pictorial means must be the more complete ( I do not mean complicated ) the deeper is his thought. I am unable to distinguish between the feeling I have for life and my way of expressing it. "
Henri Matisse: Composition
" Expression, to my way of thinking, does not consist of the passion mirrored upon a human face or betrayed by a violent gesture. The whole arrangement of my picture is expressive. The place occupied by figures or objects, the empty spaces around them, the proportions - everything plays a part. "
" Composition, the aim of which is expression, alters itself according to the surface to be covered. "
Henri Matisse: Limitations of Spontaneity
" Both harmonies and dissonances of color can produce very pleasurable effects. Often when I settle down to work I begin with noting my immediate and superficial color sensations. Some years ago the first result was often enough for me - but today if I were satisfied with this my picture would remain incomplete. I would have put down the passing sensations of a moment; they would not completely define my feelings, and the next day I might not recognize what they meant. I want to reach that state of condensation of sensations which constitutes a picture. "
Henri Matisse: Color Composition
" If upon a white canvas I jot down some sensations of blue, of green, red - every new brush stroke diminishes the importance of the preceding ones. "
" I cannot copy nature in a servile way, I must interpret nature and submit it to the spirit of the picture - when I have found the relationship of all the tones the result must be a living harmony of tones, a harmony not unlike that of musical composition."
" For me all is in the conception I must have a clear vision of the whole composition from the very beginning. "
Henri Matisse: Color As Expression
" The chief aim of color should be to serve expression as well as possible. I put down my colors without a preconceived plan. If at the first step and perhaps without my being conscious of it one tone has particularly pleased me, more often than not when the picture is finished I will notice that I have respected this tone while I have progressively altered and transformed the others. I discover the quality of colors in a purely instinctive way. "
" My choice of colors does not rest on any scientific theory; it is based on observation, on feeling, on the very nature of each experience. "
Henri Matisse: Subject-Matter
" What interests me most is neither still life nor landscape but the human figure. It is through it that I best succeed in expressing the nearly religious feeling that I have towards life. I do not insist upon the details of the face. I do not care to repeat them with anatomical exactness. "
" A work of art must carry in itself its complete significance and impose it upon the beholder even before he can identify the subject-matter. "
Henri Matisse: Tranquility
" What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity devoid of troubling or depressing subject-matter, an art which might be for every mental worker, be he businessman or writer, like an appeasing influence, like a mental soother, something like a good armchair in which to rest from physical fatigue. "
Goldwater, R & Treves, M. 1976. Artists on Art, From the 14th to the 20th Century . John Murray.
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