graphic passion: matisse and the book arts @ the morgan library

  Henri Matisse (1869–1954), linocut illustration and initial in Henry de Montherlant (1895– 1972),   Pasiphaé, Chant de Minos (Les Crétois)  . Paris: Martin Fabiani, 1944.

Henri Matisse (1869–1954), linocut illustration and initial in Henry de Montherlant (1895– 1972), Pasiphaé, Chant de Minos (Les Crétois). Paris: Martin Fabiani, 1944.

Matisse insisted that illustrating a text was by no means an attempt to "complete" a poem.  If a poet's work required this, the poet's efforts would, according to Matisse, have been deficient. Instead, Matisse thought that painter and poet could work in parallel (even if they did not strictly work together), the picture being a "plastic equivalent" of the poem...the visual artist must not adhere too strictly to the written text, and should, instead, work freely to express his own sensibilities.

-From Questions of Influence in Modern French Literature  Edited by Thomas Baldwin, James Fowler and Ana de Medeiros