I am only ten pages away from completing the Spurling second volume of Matisse's biography. Here are some Matisse quotes:
After visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City in 1930, Matisse said, "All the old pictures are dubious or mediocre--the modern ones are extremely good." I suspect that has changed somewhat.
Describing himself and the artist Georges Roualt to his son Pierre Matisse: "A man who makes pictures like the one we were looking at is an unhappy creature, tormented day and night. He relieves himself of his passion in his pictures, but also in spite of himself on the people around him. That is what normal people never understand. They want to enjoy the artists' products--as one might enjoy cows' milk--but they can't put up with the inconvenience, the mud and the flies." He was trying to explain why he sometimes wasn't nice to his family, but I like the part about the mud and flies.
One last one: "Artist are like plants whose growth in the thickets of the jungle depends on the air they breathe, and the mud or stones among which they grow by chance and without choice." This quote appeals to me, not only because of another reference to mud, but because it recognizes that an artist is best at painting what he knows and where he is.
Did I tell you that my middle name is Henri?