Pearls from artists* # 208August 10, 2016
* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
PC: In your painting, you’ve always kept this speed of movement. One senses that you work something out slowly, deep down, that it’s hard work, but there’s always something fresh about its expression.
HM: That’s because I revise my notion several times over. People often add or superpose – completing things without changing their plan, whereas I rework my plan every time. I never get tired. I always start again, working from the previous state. I try to work in a contemplative state, which is very difficult: contemplation is inaction, and I act in contemplation.
In all the studies I’ve made from my own ideas, there’s never been a faux pas because I’ve always unconsciously had a feeling for the goal; I’ve made my way toward it the way one heads north, following the compass. What I’ve done, I’ve done by instinct, always with my sights on a goal I still hope to reach today. I’ve completed my apprenticeship now. All I ask is four or five years to realize that goal.
PC: Delacroix said that too. Great artists never look back.
HM: Delacroix also said – ten years after he’d left the place – “I’m just beginning to see Morocco.” Rodin said to an artist, “You need to stand back a long way for sculpture.” To which the student replied, “Master, my studio is only ten meters wide.”
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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