Exactitude Is Not Truth

Four drawings-portraits perhaps - by Matisse in 1947
Four drawings-portraits perhaps – by Matisse in 1947

I only have a few days left with the “Matisse Portraits” book that I checked out of the downtown library. I’m going to have to remove all the bookmarks and give it up. It is so jam packed with sensational drawings that it took me a few weeks before I could even read the copy. Peggi has been page turning Ann Rule’s “Every Breadth You Take” while I stare at drawings until I fall asleep.

Now that I have been able to get to some of the text I’m finding that Matisse is as articulate with words as he is with the brush. In an essay for the catalog for a collection of his work entitled “Exactitude Is Not Truth” (a Delacroix saying)he wrote,

“Among these drawings, which I have chosen with the greatest of care for this exhibition, are four drawings-portraits perhaps—done from my face as seen in a mirror. I should particularly like to call them to the visitors’ attention.

These drawings sum up, in my opinion, observations that I have made for many years about the charactcr of drawing, a character that does not depcnd on forms being copied exactly as they are in nature or on the patient assembling of exact details, but on the profound feeling of the artist before the objects that he has chosen, on which his attention is focussed, and whose spirit he has penetrated.”

It kills me how much volume Matisse gets in these line drawings. He devoted his life to careful observation of nature and dilligent hard work in order to make drawings look this easy.

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