In 1941 the Swiss art critic Pierre Courthion interviewed Henri Matisse while the artist was in bed recovering from a serious operation. After months of complicated discussions between them, and just weeks before the book was to come out - the artist even had approved the cover design - Matisse suddenly refused its publication.
Taken from a typescript of the interview which resides 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 Alfred Barnes. He discusses fame, writers, musicians, politicians, and, most fascinatingly, his travels. With a preface by Claude Duthuit, Matisse’s grandson, Chatting with Henri Matisse contains a preface by and essays by Yve-Alain Bois and Laurence Bertrand Dorléac. The book also includes unpublished correspondence and other original documents related to Courthion’s interview and abounds with details about avant-garde life, tactics, and artistic creativity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. Serge Guilbaut is professor of art history at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, writes extensively on modern and contemporary art