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Chatting with Henri Matisse: The Lost 1941 Interview

Overview

In 1941 the Swiss art critic Pierre Courthion interviewed Henri Matisse while the artist was in bed recovering from a serious operation. It was an extensive interview, seen at the time as a vital assessment of Matisse’s career and set to be published by Albert Skira’s then newly established Swiss press. After months of complicated discussions between Courthion and Matisse, and just weeks before the book was to come out—the artist even had approved the cover design—Matisse suddenly refused its publication. A ...

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Overview

In 1941 the Swiss art critic Pierre Courthion interviewed Henri Matisse while the artist was in bed recovering from a serious operation. It was an extensive interview, seen at the time as a vital assessment of Matisse’s career and set to be published by Albert Skira’s then newly established Swiss press. After months of complicated discussions between Courthion and Matisse, and just weeks before the book was to come out—the artist even had approved the cover design—Matisse suddenly refused its publication. A typescript of the interview now resides in Courthion’s papers at the Getty Research Institute.

This rich conversation, conducted during the Nazi occupation of France, is published for the first time in this volume, where it appears both in English translation and in the original French version. Matisse unravels memories of his youth and his life as a bohemian student in Gustave Moreau’s atelier. He recounts his experience with collectors, including Albert C. Barnes. He discusses fame, writers, musicians, politicians, and, most fascinatingly, his travels. Chatting with Henri Matisse, introduced by Serge Guilbaut, contains a preface by Claude Duthuit, Matisse’s grandson, and essays by Yve-Alain Bois and Laurence Bertrand Dorléac. The book includes unpublished correspondence and other original documents related to Courthion’s interview and abounds with details about avant-garde life, tactics, and artistic creativity in the first half of the twentieth century.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

In 1941, the Swiss art critic Pierre Courthion was granted a rare interview with Henri Matisse (1869-1954), who was then recovering from a serious operation. It was perhaps Matisse's bedridden state that enabled Courthion to question the French artist so extensively about his youth; travels; artistic training; fame; and associations with artists and collectors. And perhaps it was his own rare loquaciousness that eventually gave Matisse serious doubts about its publication. Just months its release, he withdrew his permission to publish. Now, resurrected from an archive, this revelatory interview is published both in translation and in the original French. This attractive volume is enhanced by unpublished correspondence; a foreword by Matisse's grandson Claude Duthuit; and essays by Yve-Alain Bois and Laurence Bertyrand Dorléac. Stan Lee's How to Draw Superheroes: From the Legendary Co-creator of the Avengers, Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and Iron Man Stan Lee; illustrated by Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, Alex Ross, and John Buscema Crown, 9780823098453

Publishers Weekly
In 1941, Swiss art critic Courthion interviewed Matisse in Lyon while the artist was recovering from a serious operation, for a book to be published by Albert Skira, founder of the eponymous publishing house. Over several days, Matisse and Courthion discussed topics including the artist’s early years as a student of Gustave Moreau in Paris; his relationship with Renoir, Cezanne, and Pissaro; his collaborations with Sergei Diaghilev; and his travels in Morocco and their impact on his work. Just a few weeks before the book was slated to be released, Matisse blocked its publication, stating that he had conducted the interview while under sedation. Fortunately, the manuscript landed at the Getty Research Institute, where it was later discovered by art history professor Guilbaut (How New York Stole the Idea of Modern Art), who here publishes the complete interviews in English and French, along with reproductions of the original edited manuscript and transcript rejected by Matisse. The volume includes two short, very astute critical essays on Matisse as a traveler and on the artist’s decision to remain in Nazi-occupied France, along with numerous photographs of the artist and reproductions of his work. This important book provides great insight into Matisse as an artist and individual, as well as into the journalist’s interviewing and editing process. 23 color and 28 b&w illus. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
“An extensive interview in which Henri Matisse freely shares his thoughts on everything from drawing to depression.”—Guardian

“This important book provides great insight into Matisse as an artist and individual, as well as into [Courthion’s] interviewing and editing process.”—Publishers Weekly

“[A] comprehensively contextualised restoration of this rare and uninhibited testimonial, emerging from a moment that Matisse correspondingly called his ‘resurrection’ from near-death.”— Burlington Magazine

“[Chatting with Henri Matisse] sheds light on [Matisse’s] process and his approach to color.”—ArtInfo

“Full of reminiscences, aperçus, and surprising revelations from the master.”—ARTnews

“[These interviews] give valuable insight into a major artist who was not only a painter but a sculptor, set designer and maker of memorable cut-paper collages.”—South China Morning Post

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781606061299
  • Publisher: Getty Publications
  • Publication date: 8/15/2013
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 813,218
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

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