Explore the most impactful and insightful quotes and sayings by Henri Matisse, and enrich your perspective with the wisdom. Share these inspiring Henri Matisse quotes pictures with your friends on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or your personal blogs, completely free. Here are the top 180 Henri Matisse quotes for you to read and share.

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Colours have their own distinctive beauty that you have to preserve, just as in music you try to preserve sounds. It is a question of organization, of finding the arrangement that will keep the beauty and freshness of the colour -- Henri Matisse
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Beauty comes from the balance between two and three dimensions, between abstraction and representation - I seek the equilibrium behind changing appearances. -- Henri Matisse
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Ever since there have been men, man has given himself over to too little joy. That alone, my brothers, is our original sin. I should believe only in a God who understood how to dance. -- Henri Matisse
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When an artist or student draws a nude figure with painstaking care, the result is drawing, and not emotion. -- Henri Matisse
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A picture must possess a real power to generate light and for a long time now I've been conscious of expressing myself through light or rather in light. -- Henri Matisse
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Expression is not a matter of passion mirrored on the human face or revealed by a violent gesture. When I paint a picture, its every detail is expressive. -- Henri Matisse
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Seek the strongest color effect possible ... the content is of no importance. -- Henri Matisse
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I do not repudiate any of my paintings but there isn't one of them that I would not redo differently, if I had it to redo. My destination is always the same but I work out a different route to get there. -- Henri Matisse
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Love wants to rise, not to be held down by anything base ... He who loves flies, runs, and rejoices; he is free and nothing holds him back. Derive happiness from yourself, from a good day's work, from the clearing that it makes in the fog that surrounds us. -- Henri Matisse
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Starting to paint, I felt gloriously free, quiet, and alone. -- Henri Matisse
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The model for me is a touchstone, it is a door which I must break open in order to reach the garden in which I am alone and feel good, even the model exists only for what use I can make of it. -- Henri Matisse
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From the moment I held the box of colors in my hands, I knew this was my life. I threw myself into it like a beast that plunges towards the thing it loves. -- Henri Matisse
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After a half-century of hard work and reflection the wall is still there. -- Henri Matisse
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An artist is an explorer. -- Henri Matisse
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Exactitude is not truth. -- Henri Matisse
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The importance of an artist is to be measured by the quantity of new signs which he has introduced to the language of art. -- Henri Matisse
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A young woman has young claws, well sharpened. If she has character, that is. And if she hasn't so much the worse for you. -- Henri Matisse
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We ought to view ourselves with the same curiosity and openness with which we study a tree, the sky or a thought, because we too are linked to the entire universe.
-- Henri Matisse
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I've been forty years discovering that the queen of all colors is black. -- Henri Matisse
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With color one obtains an energy that seems to stem from witchcraft. -- Henri Matisse
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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. -- Henri Matisse
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Truth and reality in art do not arise until you no longer understand what you are doing and are capable of but nevertheless sense a power that grows in proportion to your resistance. -- Henri Matisse
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I cannot copy nature in a servile way; I am forced to interpret nature and submit it to the spirit of the picture. From the relationship I have found in all the tones there must result a living harmony of colors, a harmony analogous to that of a musical composition. -- Henri Matisse
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What matters most to me? To work with my model until I have it enough in me to be able to improvise, to let my hand run free ... -- Henri Matisse
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Purer colors ... have in themselves, independently of the objects they serve to express, a significant action on the feelings of those who look at them. -- Henri Matisse
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Drawing is like making an expressive gesture with the advantage of permanence. -- Henri Matisse
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A certain color tones you up. It's the concentration of timbres. -- Henri Matisse
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You want to paint? First of all you must cut off your tongue because your decision takes away from you the right to express yourself with anything but your brush. -- Henri Matisse
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Color, even more than drawing, is a means of liberation. -- Henri Matisse
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All my efforts go into creating an art that can be understood by everyone. -- Henri Matisse
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Arrival = Prison, and the artist must never be a prisoner. -- Henri Matisse
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All that is not useful in a picture is detrimental. A work of art must be harmonious in its entirety; for superfluous details would, in the mind of the beholder, encroach upon the essential elements. -- Henri Matisse
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Creative people are curious, flexible, and independent with a tremendous spirit and a love of play. -- Henri Matisse
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Would not it be best to leave room to mystery? -- Henri Matisse
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What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter - a soothing, calming influence on the mind, rather like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue. -- Henri Matisse
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Color was not given to us in order that we imitate Nature. It was given to us so that we can express our emotions. -- Henri Matisse
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A certain blue enters your soul -- Henri Matisse
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Drawing is ... not an exercise of particular dexterity, but above all a means of expressing intimate feelings and moods. -- Henri Matisse
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It is through the human figure that I best succeed in expressing the nearly religious feeling that I have towards life. -- Henri Matisse
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Put a colour upon a canvas - it not only colours with that colour the part of the canvas to which the colour has been applied, but it also colours the surrounding space with the complementary. -- Henri Matisse
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It is only after years of preparation that the young artist should touch color - not color used descriptively, that is, but as a means of personal expression. -- Henri Matisse
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Instinct must be thwarted just as one prunes the branches of a tree so that it will grow better. -- Henri Matisse
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What's so astonishing about not understanding? There are so many things in art, beginning with art itself, that one doesn't understand. A painter doesn't see everything that he has put in his painting. -- Henri Matisse
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My curves are not crazy. -- Henri Matisse
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Modern art spreads joy around by its color, which calms us. -- Henri Matisse
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From the first shock of the contemplation of a face depends the principal sensation which guides me throughout the entire execution of a portrait. -- Henri Matisse
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In the beginning you must subject yourself to the influence of nature. You must be able to walk firmly on the ground before you start walking on a tightrope. -- Henri Matisse
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My pictures are made up of four or five colors that collide with one another ... -- Henri Matisse
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The things that are acquired consciously permit us to express ourselves unconsciously with a certain richness. -- Henri Matisse
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In art, truth and reality begin when one no longer understands what one is doing or what one knows, and when there remains an energy that is all the stronger for being constrained, controlled and compressed. -- Henri Matisse
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A thimbleful of red is redder than a bucketful. -- Henri Matisse
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When I put a green, it is not grass. When I put a blue, it is not the sky. -- Henri Matisse
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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. -- Henri Matisse
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The Barnes Foundation is the only sane place to see art in America. -- Henri Matisse
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A certain blue enters your soul. A certain red has an effect on your blood-pressure. -- Henri Matisse
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What I am after, above all, is expression. -- Henri Matisse
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Cezanne, you see, is a sort of God of painting. -- Henri Matisse
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I am unable to make any distinction between the feeling I get from life and the way I translate that feeling into painting. -- Henri Matisse
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Fit the parts together, one into the other, and build your figure like a carpenter builds a house. Everything must be constructed, composed of parts that make a whole ... -- Henri Matisse
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It is not enough to place colors, however beautiful, one beside the other; colors must also react on one another. Otherwise, you have cacophony. -- Henri Matisse
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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 -- Henri Matisse
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Seek for the boldest color possible, content is irrelevant. -- Henri Matisse
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A distinction is made between artists who work directly from nature and those who work purely from imagination. Neither if these methods should be preferred to the exclusion of the other. Often both are used in turn by the same man ... -- Henri Matisse
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If my story were ever to be written truthfully from start to finish, it would amaze everyone. -- Henri Matisse
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The artist begins with a vision - a creative operation requiring an effort. -- Henri Matisse
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What interests me most is neither still life nor landscape: it is the human figure. -- Henri Matisse
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My choice of colors does not rest on any scientific theory, it is based on observation, on feeling, on the experience of my sensibility. -- Henri Matisse
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Much of the beauty that arises in art comes from the struggle an artist wages with his limited medium. -- Henri Matisse
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Never ruin a good painting with the truth. -- Henri Matisse
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Each work of art is a collection of signs invented during the picture's execution to suit the needs of their position. Taken out of the composition for which they were created, these signs have no further use. -- Henri Matisse
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Don't try to be original. Be simple. Be good technically, and if there is something in you, it will come out. -- Henri Matisse
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Creativity takes courage. -- Henri Matisse
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When a painting is finished, it's like a new born child, and the artist himself must have time for understanding. How then do you expect an amateur to understand that which the artist dos not yet comprehend. -- Henri Matisse
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An artist who wants to transpose a composition onto a larger canvas must conceive it over again in order to preserve its expression; he must alter its character and not just fill in the squares into which he has divided his canvas. -- Henri Matisse
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Art is an escape from reality. -- Henri Matisse
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The splitting up of color [as Impressionists did] brought the splitting up of form and contour ... Everything is reduced to a mere sensation of the retina, but one which destroys all tranquility of surface and contour. Objects are differentiated only by the luminosity that is given them. -- Henri Matisse
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I dream of an art of balance, of quietness, something analogous to a good armchair. -- Henri Matisse
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I simply try to put down colors which render my sensation -- Henri Matisse
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When you're out of willpower you call on stubbornness, that's the trick. -- Henri Matisse
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The sign is determined at the moment I use it and for the object of which it must form a part. For this reason I cannot determine in advance signs which never change, and which would be like writing: that would paralyze the freedom of my invention. -- Henri Matisse
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Drawing is of the spirit; color is of the senses. -- Henri Matisse
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Composition is the art of arranging in a decorative manner the various elements which the painter uses to express his sentiments. In a picture every separate part will be visible and ... everything which has no utility in the picture is for that reason harmful. -- Henri Matisse
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Truly, I'm not joking when I thank my lucky stars for the awful operation I had, since it has made me young again and philosophical which means that I don't want to fritter away the new lease on life I've been given. -- Henri Matisse
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The sign for which I forge an image has no value if it doesn't harmonize with other signs, which I must determine in the course of my invention and which are completely peculiar to it. -- Henri Matisse
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Jazz is rhythm and meaning. -- Henri Matisse
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There are wonderful things in Jazz, the improvisation, the liveliness, the being at one with the audience. -- Henri Matisse
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When I started to paint I felt transported into a kind of paradise ... In everyday life I was usually bored and vexed ... Starting to paint I felt gloriously free ... -- Henri Matisse
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If it is practiced by a man of taste, the photograph will have the appearance of art (but) the photographer must ... intervene as little as possible, so as not to lose the objective charm which it naturally possesses. -- Henri Matisse
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There are always flowers for those who want to see them. -- Henri Matisse
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An artist must possess Nature. He must identify himself with her rhythm, by efforts that will prepare the mastery which will later enable him to express himself in his own language. -- Henri Matisse
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The living model, the naked body of a woman, is the privileged seat of feeling, but also of questioning ... The model must mark you, awaken in you an emotion which you seek in turn to express. -- Henri Matisse
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Hatred is a parasite that devours all. One doesn't build upon hatred, but upon love. -- Henri Matisse
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Do remember that one line does nothing; it is only in relation to another that it creates a volume. -- Henri Matisse
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The artist has to look at life as he did when he was a child. If he loses that faculty, he cannot express himself in an original, that is, a personal way. -- Henri Matisse
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To look at something as though we had never seen it before requires great courage. -- Henri Matisse
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Another word for creativity is courage. -- Henri Matisse
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A colourist makes his presence known even in a simple charcoal drawing. -- Henri Matisse
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The main function of color should be to serve expression. -- Henri Matisse
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If drawing belongs to the world of spirit and color to that of the senses, you must draw first to cultivate the spirit. -- Henri Matisse
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The role of the artist, like that of the scholar, consists of seizing current truths often repeated to him, but which will take on new meaning for him and which he will make his own when he has grasped their deepest significance. -- Henri Matisse
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The wall around the window does not create two worlds. -- Henri Matisse
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Perhaps I might be satisfied, momentarily, with a work finished at one sitting, but I would soon get bored looking at it; therefore, I prefer to continue working on it so that later I may recognize it as a work of my mind. -- Henri Matisse
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He who loves, flies, runs, and rejoices; he is free and nothing holds him back. -- Henri Matisse
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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. -- Henri Matisse
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There's nothing clinically wrong with me, only an emotional imbalance - I pass too quickly from the wildest enthusiasm to the blackest despair. -- Henri Matisse
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The energy within you is stronger than ever for being held back, compressed, and said No to ... -- Henri Matisse
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I never retouch a sketch: I take a canvas the same size, as I may change the composition somewhat. But I always strive to give the same feeling, while carrying it on further. -- Henri Matisse
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Drawing is putting a line around an idea. -- Henri Matisse
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It is with color that you render light, though you must also feel this light, have it within yourself. -- Henri Matisse
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A work of art must carry in itself its complete significance and impose it upon the beholder even before he can identify the subject-matter ... -- Henri Matisse
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I have simply wished to assert the reasoned and independent feeling of my own individuality within a total knowledge of tradition. -- Henri Matisse
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One gets into a state of creativity by conscious work. -- Henri Matisse
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I was very embarrassed when my canvases began to fetch high prices. I saw myself condemned to a future of nothing but Masterpieces. -- Henri Matisse
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Creation is the artist's true function; where there is no creation there is no art. -- Henri Matisse
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Art should be something like a good armchair in which to rest from physical fatigue. -- Henri Matisse
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For my part I have never avoided the influence of others. I would have considered it cowardice and a lack of sincerity toward myself. -- Henri Matisse
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The residuum of another's expression can never be related to one's own feeling. -- Henri Matisse
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All art worthy of the name is religious. -- Henri Matisse
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When I eat a tomato I look at it the way anyone else would. But when I paint a tomato, then I see it differently. -- Henri Matisse
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Cutting into color reminds me of the sculptor's direct carving. -- Henri Matisse
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Composition, the aim of which is expression, alters itself according to the surface to be covered. If I take a sheet of paper of given dimensions, I will jot down a drawing which will have a necessary relation to its format. -- Henri Matisse
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If I close my eyes, I see things better than with my eyes open. -- Henri Matisse
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It has always bothered me that I don't paint like everyone else -- Henri Matisse
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A rapid rendering of a landscape represents only one moment of its existence. I prefer, by insisting upon its essential character, to risk losing charm in order to gain greater stability. -- Henri Matisse
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I have always tried to hide my efforts and wished my works to have a light joyousness of springtime which never lets anyone suspect the labors it has cost me. -- Henri Matisse
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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. -- Henri Matisse
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My models, my human figures, are never like extras in an interior. They are the main theme of my work. I depend absolutely on my model ... -- Henri Matisse
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I would like to recapture that freshness of vision which is characteristic of extreme youth when all the world is new to it. -- Henri Matisse
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I do not distinguish between the construction of a book and that of a
painting and I always proceed from the simple to the complex. - 1946 -- Henri Matisse
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I have been no more than a medium, as it were. -- Henri Matisse
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Did not the artists of the great age of Japanese art change names many times during their careers? I like that; they wanted to safeguard their freedom. -- Henri Matisse
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An artist is an explorer. He has to begin by self-discovery and by observation of his own procedure. After that he must not feel under any constraint. -- Henri Matisse
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A young painter who cannot liberate himself from the influence of past generations is digging his own grave. -- Henri Matisse
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There is no interruption between my older paintings and my cutouts. Just that with an increasing sense of the absolute, and more abstraction, I have achieved a form that is simplified to its essence. -- Henri Matisse
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Don't wait for inspiration. It comes while one is working. -- Henri Matisse
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It has bothered me all my life that I do not paint like everybody else. -- Henri Matisse
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The truly original artist invents his own signs. -- Henri Matisse
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A new painting is a unique event, a birth, which enriches the universe as it is grasped by the human mind, by bringing a new form into it. -- Henri Matisse
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Creation begins with vision. -- Henri Matisse
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I am unable to distinguish between the feeling I have for life and my way of expressing it. -- Henri Matisse
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To arrive is to be in prison. -- Henri Matisse
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There are flowers everywhere, for those who bother to look. -- Henri Matisse
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I don't paint women, I paint pictures ... What I am after above all is expression. If in a portrait I put eyes, a nose, a mouth, there isn't much use; on the contrary it paralyses the imagination of the spectator, and obliges us to see the person in a certain way. -- Henri Matisse
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I shan't get free of my emotion by copying the tree faithfully, or by drawing its leaves one by one in the common language, but only after identifying myself with it. -- Henri Matisse
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An artist must not feel under any constraint. -- Henri Matisse
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Seeing is in itself a creative act which requires effort. -- Henri Matisse
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I do not literally paint that table, but the emotion it produces upon me. -- Henri Matisse
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In love, the one who runs away is the winner. -- Henri Matisse
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I have to create an object which resembles the tree. The sign for a tree, and not the sign that other artists may have found for the tree. -- Henri Matisse
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Color helps to express light, not the physical phenomenon, but the only light that really exists, that in the artist's brain. -- Henri Matisse
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The use of expressive colors is felt to be one of the basic elements of the modern mentality, an historical necessity, beyond choice. -- Henri Matisse
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Precision is not reality -- Henri Matisse
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I'm growing old, I delight in the past. -- Henri Matisse
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The portrait is one of the most curious art forms. It demands special qualities in the artist, and an almost total kinship with the model. -- Henri Matisse
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The artists must see all things as if he were seeing them for the first time. All his life he must see as he did when he was a child. -- Henri Matisse
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You must forget all your theories, all your ideas before the subject. What part of these is really your own will be expressed in your expression of the emotion awakened in you by the subject. -- Henri Matisse
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A work should contain its total meaning within itself and should impress it on the spectator before he even knows the subject. -- Henri Matisse
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Impressionism is the newspaper of the soul -- Henri Matisse
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The essential thing is to work in a state of mind that approaches prayer. -- Henri Matisse
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Derive happiness in oneself from a good day's work, from illumination the fog that surround -- Henri Matisse
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Time extracts various values from a painter's work. When these values are exhausted the pictures are forgotten, and the more a picture has to give, the greater it is. -- Henri Matisse
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One must, of course, have one's entire experience behind one and not have lost the freshness of instinct. -- Henri Matisse
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What I dream of is an art of balance. -- Henri Matisse
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Simple colours can affect the intimate feelings with all the more force because they are simple. -- Henri Matisse
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I don't paint things. I only paint the difference between things. -- Henri Matisse
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I am curious about color as one would be visiting a new country, because I have never concentrated so closely on color expression. Up to now I have waited at the gates of the temple. -- Henri Matisse
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I counted solely on the clarity of expression of my work to gain my ends. -- Henri Matisse
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With greater completeness and abstraction, I have attained a form filtered to its essentials. -- Henri Matisse
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I am driven on by an idea that I really only grasp as it grows with the picture. -- Henri Matisse
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Whoever wishes to devote himself to painting should begin by cutting out his own tongue -- Henri Matisse
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Work cures everything. -- Henri Matisse
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To draw is to make an idea precise. Drawing is the precision of thought. -- Henri Matisse
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Nothing can be accomplished without love. -- Henri Matisse
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When I paint green, it doesn't mean grass; when I paint blue, it doesn't mean sky. -- Henri Matisse
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Color exists in itself, possessing its own beauty. -- Henri Matisse
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Above all, an artist must never be too easily satisfied with what he has done ... -- Henri Matisse
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I want to reach that condensation of sensations that constitutes a picture. -- Henri Matisse
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I don't know whether I believe in God or not. I think, really, I'm some kind of a Buddhist. But the essential thing is to put oneself in a frame of mind which is close to that of prayer. -- Henri Matisse
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The effort to see things without distortion takes something like courage and this courage is essential to the artist, who has to look at everything as though he saw it for the first time. -- Henri Matisse
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For whether we want to or not, we belong to our time and we share in its opinions, its feelings, even its delusions. -- Henri Matisse