Saturday, May 21, 2005


Great piece in today's Times about Henri Matisse's 'second life'. Of course, the man himself never fails to fascinate, but in some ways, the concept of the second life intrigues me even more. What exactly is a second life? For anyone who had ever survived a potentially fatal illness,little explanation is necessary. It's the gift years. The ones that were never promised to you, as we, in the stupor of ordinary days and familiar landscapes, seem to believe years are supposed to be. In other words, 'a second life' is a bright morning with the blinders off. It's existence deepened and enlivened by its very fragility.

Knowing the joyfulness and the exuberance of his work, it is not surprising that Matisse was a man who would take full opportunity of the gift years, producing the marvelously free work that consumed his final thirteen years.

The piece contains some terrific quotes from an artist who was not only a master with a paintbrush, but clearly had earned an honorary doctorate in the art of life as well:

"When I find something is not going well, I look in some satisfying corner and find I have no reason to complain."

"I am told that Chinese teachers taught their students that when you want to draw a tree, feel as if you were climbing it..."

And in response to a critic who said he was too old for erotic art: "If my feelings of freshness, of beauty, of youth remains the same as it was 30 years ago in front of flowers, a fine sky or an elegant tree, why should it be different with a young girl?"