Matisse in his Own Words

Why have I never been bored? For more than fifty years I have never ceased to work.

When I put a green, it it not grass. When I put a blue, it is not the sky.

I desire pleasure. I am not a revolutionary by principle. I was educated in an entirely different manner.

My mother liked everything I did. It is from her affection for her that I always drew what theory failed to offer me per finish the painting.

Would not it be best to leave room to mystery?

What interests me most is neither still life nor landscape: it is the human figure.

What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity, devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter, an art which could be for every mental worker, for the businessman as well as the man of letters, for example, a soothing, calming influence on the mind, something like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue.

Expression, for me, does not reside in passions glowing in a human face or manifested by violent movement. The entire arrangement of my picture is expressive; the place occupied by the figures, the empty spaces around them, the proportions, everything has its share.

I have always tried to hide my efforts and wished my works to have the light joyousness of springtime, which never lets anyone suspect the labors it has cost me....

Drawing is like making an expressive gesture with the advantage of permanence.

I do not literally paint that table, but the emotion it produces upon me.

Exactitude is not truth.

Cutting into color reminds me of the sculptor's direct carving.

Seek the strongest color effect possible... the content is of no importance.

In modern art, it is undoubtedly to Cézanne that I owe the most.

The essential thing is to spring forth, to express the bolt of lightning one senses upon contact with a thing. The function of the artist is not to translate an observation but to express the shock of the object on his nature; the shock, with the original reaction.

I wouldn't mind turning into a vermilion goldfish.

A young painter who cannot liberate himself from the influence of past generations is digging his own grave.

There is nothing more difficult for a truly creative painter than to paint a rose, because before he can do so he has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted.

You study, you learn, but you guard the original naivete. It has to be within you, as desire for drink is within the drunkard or love is within the lover.

An artist must never be a prisoner. Prisoner? An artist should never be a prisoner of himself, prisoner of style, prisoner of reputation, prisoner of success, etc.

It has bothered me all my life that I do not paint like everybody else.

I don't know whether I believe in God or not. I think, really, I'm some sort of Buddhist. But the essential thing is to put oneself in a frame of mind which is close to that of prayer.

I would like to recapture that freshness of vision which is characteristic of extreme youth when all the world is new to it.

There are always flowers for those who want to see them.

Creativity takes courage.

It is not enough to place colors, however beautiful, one beside the other; colors must also react on one another. Otherwise, you have cacophony.

Work cures everything.

Impressionism is the newspaper of the soul.

Henri Matisse

If my story were ever to be written truthfully from start to finish, it would amaze everyone.

Mattise authograph