Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Studio: Matisse

Henri Matisse (age 52) with model Henriette Darricarrere, in the pose of the Liseuse au gueridon, 1921.

"He always insisted that Nature was the source of his art, stressed the importance of working from Nature, and studied it in order to "possess" and make it his own: to identify with his subject so completely that he was free in his knowledge to improvise, to distort its appearance without lossing its fundamental character, its "rhythm" or "timbre." Matisse continually refined his technical skills to enable himself to create his images with a minimum of conscious control–the better to intuit its essence or "sign," that visual symbol which was the simplest, most evocative record of its character. Only by going far beyond the specific details of visual appearance could he evoke his subject in its entirety, through all the senses: touch, taste, smell, even sound."

Henri Matisse (age 81), Hotel Regina, Nice, April 15 1950
On wall: portions of what will become Les Betes de la mer..., no.144 and Les Mille et Une Nuits, no 111

"Drawing (understood as a concentrated, coordinated activity between eye, mind, and hand) served frequently as that direct experience of things–of Nature–which Matisse believed to be essential for an artists as the source of memory. Memory not as hazy recollections but memory as the re-experience of sensations consciously felt at the time, almost as though being filed away for future use. Memory could not recapture that which was not truly experienced the first time; it could evoke only what had been intuited and sincerely felt–only what had been absorbed into one's inner being. Only then could it continue to exist as a personal reality, a source from the past for the present and for the future."

– John Hallmark Neff. Matisse, His Cut-Outs and the Ultimate Method
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