What a sad fate for a painter who loves blondes, but who refrains from putting them in his picture because they don’t go with the basket of fruit! What misery for a painter who hates apples to be obliged to use them all the time because they go with the cloth! I put everything I love in my pictures. So much the worse for the things, they have only to arrange themselves with one another. .
Formerly pictures used to move towards completion in progressive stages. Each day would bring something new. A picture was a sum of additions. With me, picture is a sum of destructions. I do a picture, then I destroy it. But in the long run nothing is lost; the red that I took away from one place turns up somewhere else. .
It would be very curious to record by means of photographs, not the stage of the picture, but its metamorphoses. Perhaps one would perceive the path taken by the mind in order to put its dreams into a concrete form. But what is really very curious is to observe that fundamentally the picture does not change, that despite appearances the initial vision remains almost intact. .
Abstract art is only painting. And what’s so dramatic about that? There is no abstract art. One must always begin with something. Afterwards one can remove all semblance of reality; there is no longer any danger as the idea of the object has left an indelible imprint. It is the object which aroused the artist, stimulated his ideas and set of his emotions. These ideas and emotions will be imprisoned in his work for good... Whether he wants it or not, man is the instrument of nature; she imposes on him character and appearance. In my paintings of Dinard, as in my paintings of Purville, I have given expression to more or less the same vision... You cannot go against nature. She is stronger than the strongest of men. We can permit ourselves some liberties, but in details only. .
Neither is there figurative and non-figurative art. All things appear to us in the shape of forms. Even in metaphysics ideas are expressed by forms, well then think how absurd it would be to think of painting without the imagery of forms. A figure, an object, a circle, are forms; they affect us more or less intensely. .
Do you think it interests me that this painting represents two figures? These two figures existed, they exist no more. The sight of them gave me an initial emotion, little by little their real presence grew indistinct they became a fiction for me, then they disappeared, or rather, were turned into problems of all kinds. For me they are no longer two figures but shapes and colours, don’t misunderstand me, shapes and colours, though, that sum up the idea of the two figures and preserve the vibration of their existence. .
When we did Cubist paintings, our intention was not to produce Cubist paintings but to express what was within us. No one laid down a course of action for us, and our friends the poets followed our endeavour attentively but they never dictated it to us. .
The academic teaching on beauty is false. We have been misled, but so completely misled that we can no longer find so much as a shadow of a truth again. The beauties of the Parthenon, the Venuses, the Nymphs, the Narcisusses, are so many lies. Art is not the application of a canon of beauty, but what the instinct and the brain can conceive independently of that canon... To tell the truth the Parthenon is only a truss on which a roof has been placed. .
Everyone wants to understand painting. Why don’t they try to understand the song of the birds? Why do they love a night, a flower, everything which surrounds man, without attempting to understand them? Whereas where painting is concerned, they want to understand. Let them understand above all that the artist works from necessity; that he, too, is a minute element of the world to whom one should ascribe no more importance than so many things in nature which charm us but which we do not explain to ourselves. Those who attempt to explain a picture are on the wrong track most of the time. Gertrude Stein, overjoyed, told me some time ago that she had finally understood what my picture represented: three musicians. It was a still-life! .
How can you expect a beholder to experience my picture as I experienced it? A picture comes to me a long time beforehand; who knows how long a time beforehand, I sensed, saw, and painted it and yet the next day even I do not understand what I have done. How can anyone penetrate my dreams, my instincts, my desires, my thought, which have taken a long time to fashion themselves and come to the surface, above all to grasp what I put there, perhaps involuntary? .
The artist is a receptacle for emotions derived from anywhere: from the sky, from the earth, from a piece of paper, from a passing figure, from a spider’s web. This is ’s web. This is why one must not make a distinction between things. For them there are no aristocratic quarterings. One must take things where one finds them. .
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