Book Review “Chatting with Henri Matisse: The Lost 1941 Interview”

meandmatisseI just finished reading the book “Chatting with Henri Matisse: The Lost 1941 Interview”, Henri Matisse with Pierre Courthion. If you’re looking for a compelling book that gives you a glimpse into the life of a world renowned artist, I’d highly suggest it. It was a fascinating read because it really gives you a real sense of Matisse’s personality. I enjoyed hearing/reading Matisse talk about his artistic philosophies. Matisse was a respected and famous artist in his own lifetime. Being an artist was his profession. As an artist, hearing him talk about his career with the interviewer, Pierre Courthion, was inspirational especially since our society seems to perpetuate the stereotype of artists not being able to make a living off of their art while they’re alive. He talked about his travels, light, and his thoughts of other artists of the time such as Picasso. When I first started reading the book I didn’t think it would be one of those that I couldn’t put down and yet I was finding that I had to force myself to stop reading at times so that I could go work on my own art. The similarities between Matisse’s philosophies and my own are striking. I know that not every artist or person has the same philosophies and to find such similarities between Matisse and myself was as if he knew my thoughts and was talking directly to me.

To be able to read this book is such a gift, when the interview was completed Matisse had ultimately decided not to have it published. I’m not sure what made him decide not to publish it, as he never gives an exact reason in the letters included in the book, but I’m so glad that it was ultimately published because as an artist it’s invaluable to hear the words of an artist who had such passion for creating and made their living with their art.

This book comes with pictures that accompany the conversations so that you can refer to what works Matisse is talking about. Along with the English translation of the conversation there is the original conversation in French in the back of the book, which I will be reading next as I’m brushing up on my French.

If you love art, Matisse’s work, or are fascinated by the musings of artists I’d highly recommend this book. It’s a wonderful look into the personality and life of Henri Matisse.


You can find a copy of Chatting with Henri Matisse: The Lost 1941 Interview here.