Henri Matisse on Color

Matisse, Red Madras Headdress ©2011 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Socie
Henri Matisse, Red Madras Headdress (Le Madras rouge), between the end of April and mid-July 1907, oil on canvas, 39 3/8 x 31 7/8 inches (©2011 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Image © 2013 The Barnes Foundation)

Miranda Sklaroff blogs excerpts on color from the new book Chatting with Henri Matisse: The Lost 1941 Interview (published by the Getty Research Institute, ed. by Serge Guilbaut) which makes public for the first time an interview with Henri Matisse conducted by Pierre Courthion.

In one of the excerpts Matisse comments: "I finally came to consider colors as forces, to be assembled as inspiration dictates. Colors can be transformed by relation; a black becomes red-black when you put it next to a rather cold color like Prussian blue, blue-black if you put it alongside a color that has an extremely hot basis: orange, for example. From that point on, I began working with a palette especially composed for each painting while I was working on it, which meant I could eliminate one of the primordial colors, like a red or a yellow or a blue, from my painting….  All the colors sing together; their strength is determined by the needs of the chorus. It’s like a musical chord."