Quotes from Henri Matisse and Robert Motherwell


"It would be a mistake to ascribe this creative power to an inborn talent.  In art, the genuine creator is not just a gifted being, but a man who has succeeded in arranging for their appointed end, a complex of activities, of which the work is the outcome.  The artist begins with a vision - a creative operation requiring an effort. creativity takes courage."

"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 the figures or objects, the empty spaces around them, the proportions, everything plays a part." 

"I am simply conscious of the forces I am using and I am driven on by an idea that I really only grasp as it grows with the picture. Truth and reality in art begin at the point where the artist ceases to understand what he is doing and capable of doing - yet feels in himself a force that becomes steadily stronger and more concentrated."

“Remember, a line cannot exist alone; it always brings a companion along.  Do you remember that one line does nothing; it is only in relation to another that it creates a volume……” 

“When you’re out of willpower, you can call on stubbornness.”



“The game is not what things ’look like.’  The game is organizing, as accurately and with as deep discrimination as one can, states of feeling.”

“I never think of my pictures as “abstract,” nor do those who live with them day by day … I happen to think primarily in paint – this is the nature of a painter – just as musicians think in music.  And nothing can be more concrete to a man than his own felt thought, his own thought feeling.  I feel most real to myself in the studio, and resent any description of what transpires there as “abstract” – which nowadays no longer signifies “to select,” but, instead, something remote from reality.  From whose reality? And on what level?”

" . . . the collages are a kind of private diary - a privately coded diary, not made with an actual autobiographical intention, but one that functions in an associative way for me, like Proust's Madeleine." 

"The passions are a kind of thirst, inexorable and intense, for certain feelings or felt states.  To find or invent 'objects' (which are, more strictly speaking, relational structures) whose felt quality satisfies the passions - that for me is the activity of the artist, an activity which does not cease even in sleep.  No wonder the artist is constantly placing and displacing, relating and rupturing relations; his task is to find a complex of qualities whose feeling is just right - veering towards the unknown and chaos, yet ordered and related in order to be apprehended."  

"That painting and sculpture are not skills, that can be taught in reference to preestablished criteria, whether academic or modern, but a process, whose content is found, subtle and deeply felt; that no true artist ends with the style that he expected to have when he began, any more than anyone's life unrolls in the particular manner that one expected when young; that it is only by giving oneself up completely to the painting medium that one finds oneself and one's own style . . . such is the experience of the School of New York." 

"Indeed, a painter's most difficult and far-reaching decisions revolve around his rejections."

"Painting is a language of feeling."



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