Quotes



The role of art for me is the visualization of attitude, of the human attitude towards life, towards the world. And I think I’ve said before that there is no difference between science and art when it comes to creativeness, productiveness, to come to conclusions and to formulations. That’s the same I think. And scientists can be just as creative as an artist.

— Josef Albers


Without poets, without artists, men would soon weary of nature's monotony. The sublime idea men have of the universe would collapse with dizzying speed. The order which we find in nature, and which is only an effect of art, would at once vanish. Everything would break up in chaos. There would be no seasons, no civilization, no thought, no humanity; even life would give way, and the impotent void would reign everywhere."

— Guillaume Apollinaire


The creative process is a cocktail of instinct, skill, culture and a highly creative feverishness. It is not like a drug; it is a particular state when everything happens very quickly, a mixture of consciousness and unconsciousness, of fear and pleasure; it’s a little like making love, the physical act of love.

— Francis Bacon


I had always loved expressionist painting, like every European. In fact I admired it all the more because these were precisely the paintings despised by my father’s generation

— Georg Baselitz


An artist is an artist only because of his exquisite sense of beauty, a sense which shows him intoxicating pleasures, but which at the same time implies and contains an equally exquisite sense of all deformities and all disproportion.

— Charles Baudelaire


One of the wonderful things about a museum is how you’re jolted into confronting art from strange and wonderful civilizations and you look and learn and expand your horizons.

— Sister Wendy Beckett


My heart beats more for a raw, average vulgar art, which doesn’t live between sleepy fairy-tale moods and poetry but rather concedes a direct entrance to the fearful, commonplace, splendid and the average grotesque banality in life.

— Max Beckmann


While our art cannot, as we wish it could, save us from wars, privation, envy, greed, old age, or death, it can revitalize us amidst it all.

— Ray Bradbury


Artistic imagination must remain free. It is by definition free from any fidelity to circumstances, especially to intoxicating circumstances of history.

— Andre Breton


It is the glory and good of Art/ That Art remains the one way possible/ Of speaking truths, to mouths like mine at least.

— Robert Browning (The Ring and the Book, The Book and the Ring, pp. 43-45)


If a symbol should be discovered in a painting of mine, it was not my intention. It is a result I did not seek. It is something that may be found afterwards, and which can be interpreted according to taste.

— Marc Chagall


All creative art is magic, is evocation of the unseen in forms persuasive, enlightening, familiar and surprising, for the edification of mankind, pinned down by the conditions of its existence to the earnest consideration of the most insignificant tides of reality.

— Joseph Conrad (from Henry James - An Appreciation)


Since my subjects have always been my sensations, my states of mind and the profound reactions that life has been producing in me, I have frequently objectified all this in figures of myself, which were the most sincere and real thing that I could do in order to express what I felt inside and outside of myself.

— Gustave Courbet


To become truly immortal, a work of art must escape all human limits: logic and commonsense will only interfere. But once these barriers are broken, it will enter the realms of childhood visions and dreams.

— Giorgio DeChirico


Art critic! Is that a profession? When I think we are stupid enough, we painters, to solicit those people’s compliments and to put ourselves into their hands! What shame! Should we even accept that they talk about our work?

— Edgar Degas


There is no art without intoxication. But I mean a mad intoxication! Let reason teeter! Delirium! The highest degree of delirium! Plunged in burning dementia! Art is the most enrapturing orgy within man’s reach.. Art must make you laugh a little and make you a little afraid. Anything as long as it doesn’t bore.

— Jean DuBuffet


Art is the perpetual motion of illusion. The highest purpose of art is to inspire. What else can you do? What else can you do for anyone but to inspire them?

— Bob Dylan


Any color, so long as it's red
Is the color that suits me best,
Though I will allow there is much to be said
For yellow and green and the rest.

— Eugene Field


Painting is the most beautiful of all arts. In it, all sensations are condensed; contemplating it, everyone can create a story at the will of his imagination and.. with a single glance.. have his soul invaded by the most profound recollections; no effort of memory, everything is summed up in one instant. A complete art which sums up all the others and completes them.

— Paul Gauguin


Fantasy, abandoned by reason, produces impossible monsters; united with it, she is the mother of the arts and the origin of marvels.

— Francisco Goya


Painting is an illusion, a piece of magic, so what you see is not what you see. I don’t know what a painting is; who knows what sets off even the desire to paint? It might be things, thoughts, a memory, sensations, which have nothing to do directly with painting itself. They can come from anything and anywhere.

— Philip Guston


One thing, however, did become clear to him [Goldmund] – why so many perfect works of art did not please him at all, why they were almost hateful and boring to him, in spite of a certain undeniable beauty. Workshops, churches, and palaces were full of these fatal works of art; he had even helped with a few himself. They were deeply disappointing because they aroused the desire for the highest and did not fulfill it. They lacked the most essential thing – mystery. That was what dreams and truly great works of art had in common: mystery.

— Hermann Hesse (Narcissus and Goldmund, 1930)


My aim in painting is to create pulsating, luminous, and open surfaces that emanate a mystic light, in accordance with my deepest insight into the experience of life and nature.

— Hans Hofmann


Well, something must be done for May,
The time is drawing nigh—
To figure in the Catalogue
And woo the public eye.
Something I must invent and paint;
But oh my wit is not
Like one of those kind substantives
That answer Who and What?

— Thomas Hood ("The Painter Puzzled" in In Hoyt’s New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 576-77)


No amount of skillful invention can replace the essential element of imagination.

— Edward Hopper


While I know that the beautiful, the spiritual and the sublime are today suspect I have begun to stop resisting the constant urge to deny that beauty has a valid right to exist in contemporary art.”

— Ian Hornak (Cover Magazine, 1994)


The artist, like the God of creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails.

— James Joyce (Portrait of an Artist


Art is a kind of innate drive that seizes a human being and makes him its instrument. The artist is not a person endowed with free will who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realize its purpose through him.

— Karl Jung


Since my subjects have always been my sensations, my states of mind and the profound reactions that life has been producing in me, I have frequently objectified all this in figures of myself, which were the most sincere and real thing that I could do in order to express what I felt inside and outside of myself.

— Frida Kahlo


A thing of beauty is a joy forever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness.

— John Keats


All my work keeps going like a pendulum.. it seems to swing back to something I was involved with earlier, or it moves between horizontality and verticality, circularlity, or a composite of them. For me, I suppose, that change is the only constant.

— Lee Krasner


My role in society, or any artist's or poet's role, is to try and express what we all feel. Not to tell people how to feel. Not as a preacher, not as a leader, but as a reflection of us all.

— John Lennon


Art is the child of Nature; yes,
Her darling child in whom we trace
The features of the mother’s face,
Her aspect and her attitude.

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ("Keramos" (1878), line 382 in Hoyt’s New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 43-45)


What I most cherish is the observation of the movement of colors. Only in this have I found the laws of those simultaneous and complementary color contrasts that nourish the actual rhythm of my vision. In this I find the actual essence, an essence which is not born out of an a priori system or theory.

— August Macke


If you seek just a little truth, as most, you should not ignore abstract forms, the basis from which all short-lived experiences we call reality springs.

— Eugene J. Martin


From the moment I held the box of colors in my hands, I knew this was my life. I threw myself into it like a beast that plunges towards the thing it loves.

— Henri Matisse


Instinct and study; love and hate;
Audacity — reverence. These must mate,
And fuse with Jacob’s mystic heart,
To wrestle with the angel — Art.”

— Herman Melville ("Timoleon, Art" 1891)


The artists does not tinker with the universe, he recreates it out of his own experience and understanding of life.

— Henry Miller


The artist’s view does not have to make sense. At least not the sort of sense that can be easily expressed in words. There is no underlying conception or thematic arrangement. But to me, the selection is utterly plausible.

— Albert Oehlen


I think a single sentence by Van Gogh is better than the whole work of all the art critics and art historians put together.

— John Olsen


Art is not the application of a canon of beauty but what the instinct and the brain can conceive beyond any canon. When we love a woman we don't start measuring her limbs.

— Pablo Picasso


Only through art can we emerge from ourselves and know what another person sees.

— Marcel Proust


Art is not a transcript nor a copy. Art is the expression of those beauties and emotions that stir the human soul.

— Howard Pyle


Art is not the bread, but the wine of life.

— Jean Paul Richter


If it is the love of that which your work represents — if, being a landscape painter, it is love of hills and trees that moves you — if, being a figure painter, it is love of human beauty, and human soul that moves you — if, being a flower or animal painter, it is love, and wonder, and delight in petal and in limb that move you, then the Spirit is upon you, and the earth is yours, and the fullness thereof.

— John Ruskin ("The Two Paths, Lect. I" in Hoyt’s New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 576-77)


You can’t shake your own sensibility. No matter what the concept is, the artist’s eye decides when it’s right...which is a notion of sensibility.

— Frank Stella


I would I were a painter, for the sake
Of a sweet picture, and of her who led,
A fitting guide, with reverential tread,
Into that mountain mystery.

— John Greenleaf Whittier ("Mountain Pictures, No. 2" in Hoyt’s New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 576-77)


My aim is to escape from the medium with which I work; to leave no residue of technical mannerisms to stand between my expression and the observer.

— Andrew Wyeth


If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.

— Emila Zola