The great French painter Henri Matisse was such a colourist that his works are bound to induce feelings of delight and happiness. Through his art, which is often both expressive and decorative, we find ourselves in touch once again with the child spirit in us.

But though Matisse handled colour with audacity, he went about it with conscious deliberation. Like a musical composer, he positioned each colour and each element in their proper places. The result was art that appeals to our desire for the two things that are sometimes denied to us in real life: freedom and harmony.

The following are some marine paintings by Matisse with quotations that I have taken from his 1908 article, “Notes of a Painter”. The images are understood to be under copyright. I have used them under the Fair Use principle.

La Moulade (Collioure In The Summer), 1905
Henri Matisse (1869–1954)

The Port of Palais, Belle Ile, 1896
Henri Matisse (1869–1954)

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

Open Window, Collioure, 1905
Henri Matisse (1869–1954)

It is necessary that the various marks I use be balanced so that they do not destroy each other. To do this I must organize my ideas; the relationships between the tones must be such that it will sustain and not destroy them. A new combination of colors will succeed the first and render the totality of my representation. I am forced to transpose until finally my picture may seem completely changed when, after successive modifications, the red has succeeded the green as the dominant color. — Henri Matisse

The Bay of Tangier, 1912
Henri Matisse (1869–1954)

For me all is in the conception. I must therefore have a clear vision of the whole from the beginning… If there is order and clarity in the picture, it means that from the outset this same order and clarity existed in the mind of the painter, or that the painter was conscious of their necessity. — Henri Matisse

Three Bathers, 1907
Henri Matisse (1869–1954)

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. — Henri Matisse

 

March is Women’s History Month. You may want to check out this article:

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