Art

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Art is made by the alone for the alone. ~ Luis Barragán

Art is the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions. It encompasses a diverse range of human activities, creations, and modes of expression, including music and literature. The meaning of art is explored in a branch of philosophy known as aesthetics.

Alphabetized by author or source:
A · B · C · D · E · F · G · H · I · J · K · L · M · N · O · P · Q · R · S · T · U · V · W · X · Y · Z · Anon · See also · External links

A[edit]

  • The coming extinction of art is prefigured in the increasing impossibility of representing historical events.
    • Theodor Adorno in Minima Moralia (1951), as translated by E. Jephcott (1974), § 94, p. 143
  • Art is magic delivered from the lie of being truth.
    • Theodor Adorno in Minima Moralia (1951), as translated by E. Jephcott (1974), § 143, p. 222.
  • Light is impressionism.
    • Gae Aulenti in: Time (8 December 1986) : On positioning galleries for impressionist and post impressionist paintings at the top of her design for Paris's Musée d'Orsay

B[edit]

Degrade first the arts if you'd mankind degrade … ~ William Blake
All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art. ~ Jorge Luis Borges
  • This museum is a torpedo moving through time, its head the ever-advancing present, its tail the ever-receding past of 50 to 100 years ago.
  • Art is made by the alone for the alone.
    • Luis Barragán, Time (12 May 1980) Originally in Cyril Connolly's "The Unquiet Grave" (1944), cited by Emilio Ambasz in "The Architecture of Luis Barragán" (1976).
  • Pop art is the inedible raised to the unspeakable.
  • Any great work of art … revives and readapts time and space, and the measure of its success is the extent to which it makes you an inhabitant of that world — the extent to which it invites you in and lets you breathe its strange, special air.
  • No work of art is worth the bones of a Pomeranian Grenadier.
  • Degrade first the arts if you'd mankind degrade,
    Hire idiots to paint with cold light and hot shade.
    • William Blake, Annotations to Sir Joshua Reynolds's Discourses, title page (c. 1798–1809).
  • A writer — and, I believe, generally all persons — must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. All things have been given to us for a purpose, and an artist must feel this more intensely. All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art.
    • Jorge Luis Borges, Twenty Conversations with Borges, Including a Selection of Poems : Interviews by Roberto Alifano, 1981–1983 (1984).
  • It's true that things are beautiful when they work. Art is function.
  • How in its naked self
    Reason wer powerless showeth when philosophers
    wil treat of Art, the which they are full ready to do,
    having good intuition that their master-key
    may lie therein: but since they must lack vision of Art
    (for elsewise they had been artists, not philosophers)
    they miss the way; and ev'n the Greeks themselves, supreme
    in making as in thinking, never of their own art
    found the true hermeneutick.
  • Now nature is not at variance with art, nor art with nature; they being both the servants of his providence. Art is the perfection of nature. Were the world now as it was the sixth day, there were yet a chaos. Nature hath made one world, and art another. In brief, all things are artificial; for nature is the art of God.
  • It is the glory and good of Art,
    That Art remains the one way possible
    Of speaking truth, to mouths like mine at least.
    • Robert Browning, The Ring and the Book, The Book and the Ring, line 842. In Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 43-45.
  • Artists shouldn't be made famous.
    • Kate Bush, Profiles in Rock interview (December 1980).

C[edit]

Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse. ~ Winston Churchill
  • If the world were clear, art would not exist.
  • Art is the triumph over chaos.
  • Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere.
    • G. K. Chesterton, as quoted in Arts magazine: Vol. 1 (1926), also in The Golden Book magazine, Vol. 7, (1928) by Henry Wysham Lanier, p. 323.
  • Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.
  • Etenim omnes artes, quæ ad humanitatem pertinent, habent quoddam commune vinculum, et quasi cognatione quadam inter se continentur.
    • All the arts which belong to polished life have some common tie, and are connected as it were by some relationship.
    • Cicero, Oratio Pro Licinio Archia, I. In Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 43-45.
  • 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.
  • I do a bale of sketches, one eye, a piece of hair. A pound of observation, then an ounce of painting.
    • Gardner Cox on his portraits, Washington Post (31 May 1975).

D[edit]

Art is not the possession of the few who are recognized writers, painters, musicians; it is the authentic expression of any and all individuality. ~ John Dewey
  • Drawing is the honesty of the art. There is no possibility of cheating. It is either good or bad.
  • L'arte vostra quella, quanto puote,
    Seque, come il maestro fa il discente;
    Si che vostr'arte a Dio quasi è nipote.
    • Art, as far as it is able, follows nature, as a pupil imitates his master; thus your art must be, as it were, God's grandchild.
    • Dante Alighieri, Inferno, XI. 103. In Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 43-45.
  • Art is the complement of science. Science as I have said is concerned wholly with relations, not with individuals. Art, on the other hand, is not only the disclosure of the individuality of the artist but also a manifestation of individuality as creative of the future, in an unprecedented response to conditions as they were in the past. Some artists in their vision of what might be but is not, have been conscious rebels. But conscious protest and revolt is not the form which the labor of the artist in creation of the future must necessarily take. Discontent with things as they are is normally the expression of the vision of what may be and is not, art in being the manifestation of individuality is this prophetic vision.
  • Art is not the possession of the few who are recognized writers, painters, musicians; it is the authentic expression of any and all individuality. Those who have the gift of creative expression in unusually large measure disclose the meaning of the individuality of others to those others. In participating in the work of art, they become artists in their activity. They learn to know and honor individuality in whatever form it appears. The fountains of creative activity are discovered and released. The free individuality which is the source of art is also the final source of creative development in time.
  • ...the significant problems and issues of life and philosophy concern the rate and mode of the conjunction of the precarious and the assured, the incomplete and the finished, the repetitious and the varying, the safe and sane and the hazardous. ...these traits, and the modes and tempos of their interaction with each other, are fundamental features of natural existence. The experience of their various consequences, according as they are relatively isolated, unhappily or happily combined, is evidence that wisdom, and hence the love of wisdom which is philosophy, is concerned with choice and administration of their proportioned union. Structure and process, substance and accident, matter and energy, permanence and flux, one and many, continuity and discreetness, order and progress, law and liberty, uniformity and growth, tradition and innovation, rational will and impelling desires, proof and discovery, the actual and the possible, are names given to various phases of their conjunction, and the issue of living depends upon the art with which these things are adjusted to each other.
    • John Dewey, "Existence as Precarious and as Stable", Experience and Nature (1925).
  • There is an art of reading, as well as an art of thinking, and an art of writing.
    • Isaac D'Israeli, Literary Character, Chapter XI In Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 43-45.
  • All passes, Art alone
    Enduring stays to us;
    The Bust out-lasts the throne,—
    The coin, Tiberius.
    • Austin Dobson, Ars Victrix (imitated from Théophile Gautier). In Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 43-45.

E[edit]

  • What happens when a new work of art is created, is something that happens simultaneously to all the works of art which preceded it. The existing monuments form an ideal order among themselves, which is modified by the introduction of the new (the really new) work of art among them. The existing order is complete before the new work arrives; for order to persist after the supervention of novelty, the whole existing order must be, if ever so slightly, altered; and so the relations, proportions, values of each work of art toward the whole are readjusted; and this is conformity between the old and the new.
  • The conscious utterance of thought, by speech or action, to any end, is art.
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson, Society and Solitude, Art. In Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 43-45.
  • Rationality is what we do to organize the world, to make it possible to predict. Art is the rehearsal for the inapplicability and failure of that process.

F[edit]

All art is autobiographical; the pearl is the oyster's autobiography. ~ Federico Fellini
  • All art is autobiographical; the pearl is the oyster's autobiography.
  • No government has the right to decide on the truth of scientific principles, nor to prescribe in any way the character of the questions investigated. Neither may a government determine the aesthetic value of artistic creations, nor limit the forms of literacy or artistic expression. Nor should it pronounce on the validity of economic, historic, religious, or philosophical doctrines. Instead it has a duty to its citizens to maintain the freedom, to let those citizens contribute to the further adventure and the development of the human race.
    • Richard Feynman, "The Uncertainty of Values", in The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen Scientist (1999).
  • "Collective art,"… is not an individual "leisure time" occupation, added to life, it is an integral part of life. It corresponds to a basic human need, and if this is not fulfilled, man remains as insecure and anxious as if the need for a meaningful thought picture of the world were unrealized.
  • In order to grow out of the receptive into the productive orientation, he [man] must relate himself to the world artistically and not only philosophically or scientifically.
    • Erich Fromm, The Sane Society (1955).
  • There is undoubtedly a difference between people who manipulate other people and people who create things.
    • Erich Fromm, The Sane Society (1955).
  • A relatively primitive village in which there are still real feasts, common artistic shared expressions, and no literacy at all—is more advanced culturally and more healthy mentally than our educated, newspaper-reading radio-listening culture.
    • Erich Fromm, The Sane Society (1955).
  • The need for the creation of collective art and ritual on a nonclerical basis is at least as important as literacy and higher education.
    • Erich Fromm, The Sane Society (1955).
  • The transformation of an atomistic into a communitarian society depends on creating again the opportunity for people to sing together, walk together, dance together, admire together—together, and not, to use Riesman's succinct expression, as a member of a "lonely crowd."
    • Erich Fromm, The Sane Society (1955).
  • On the whole, our modern ritual is impoverished and does not fulfill man's need for collective art and ritual.
    • Erich Fromm, The Sane Society (1955).

G[edit]

Beauty is at once the ultimate principle and the highest aim of art. ~ Goethe
I dream my painting, and then I paint my dream. ~ Vincent van Gogh
  • Do we not say that the judicious discovering of a most lovely Statua in a piece of Marble, hath sublimated the wit of Buonarruotti far above the vulgar wits of other men? And yet this work is onely the imitation of a meer aptitude and disposition of exteriour and superficial mem­bers of an immoveable man; but what is it in comparison of a man made by nature, composed of as many exteriour and inte­riour members, of so many muscles, tendons, nerves, bones, which serve to so many and sundry motions? but what shall we say of the senses, and of the powers of the soul, and lastly, of the understanding? May we not say, and that with reason, that the structure of a Statue falls far short of the formation of a living man, yea more of a contemptible worm?
  • If I behold a statue of some excellent master, I say with my self: "When wilt thou know how to chizzle away the refuse of a piece of Marble, and discover so lovely a figure as lyeth hid therein? When wilt thou mix and spread so many colors upon a Cloth, or Wall, and represent therewith all visible objects, like a Michael Angelo, a Raphaello, or a Tizvano? If I behold what invention men have had in comparting Musical intervals, in establishing Precepts and Rules for the management thereof with admirable delight to the ear, when shall I cease my astonishment? What shall I say of such and so various instruments of that Art? The reading of excellent Poets, with what admiration doth it swell anyone who attentively considereth the invention of concepts and their explanation? What shall we say of Architecture? What of Navigation? But, above all other stupendous inventions, what sublimity of mind was that in him, that imagined to himself to find out a way to communicate his most secret thoughts to any other person, though very far distant from him either in time or place, speaking with those that are in the Indies, speaking to those who are not yet born, nor shall be this thousand, or ten thousand years? And with how much facility? but by the various collection of twenty-four little letters upon a paper?
  • L'Art supreme
    Seule a l'eternité
    Et le buste
    Survit la cité.
    • High art alone is eternal and the bust outlives the city.
    • Théophile Gautier, L'Art. In Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 43-45.
  • Whores are the most honest girls. They present the bill right away.
  • The studio, a room to which the artist consigns himself for life, is naturally important, not only as workplace, but as a source of inspiration. And it usually manages, one way or another, to turn up in his product.
  • I dream my painting, and then I paint my dream.
    • Vincent van Gogh, As quoted in Marry Your Muse: Making a Lasting Commitment to Your Creativity (1997) by Jan Phillips, p. 176.
  • As all Nature's thousand changes
    But one changeless God proclaim;
    So in Art's wide kingdom ranges
    One sole meaning still the same:
    This is Truth, eternal Reason,
    Which from Beauty takes its dress,
    And serene through time and season
    Stands for aye in loveliness.
    • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Wilhelm Meister's Travels, Chapter XIV (Chapter III, 128 of Carlyle's Ed.). In Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 43-45.
  • His pencil was striking, resistless, and grand;
    His manners were gentle, complying, and bland;
    Still born to improve us in every part,
    His pencil our faces, his manners our heart.
    • Oliver Goldsmith, Retaliation (1774), line 139. In Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 43-45.
  • The canvas glow'd beyond ev'n nature warm;
    The pregnant quarry teem'd with human form.
    • Oliver Goldsmith, The Traveller (1764), line 137. In Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 43-45.
  • The perfection of an art consists in the employment of a comprehensive system of laws, commensurate to every purpose within its scope, but concealed from the eye of the spectator; and in the production of effects that seem to flow forth spontaneously, as though uncontrolled by their influence, and which are equally excellent, whether regarded individually, or in reference to the proposed result.
    • John Mason Good, The Book of Nature, Series 1, Lecture LX In Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 43-45.
  • The name of Leonardo da Vinci will be invoked by artists to prove that only a great artist can be a great technician. The name of Leonardo da Vinci will be invoked by technicians to prove that only a great technician can be a great artist.

H[edit]

  • The artistic decline we are seeing culturally is very prominent, very clear right now if you just look at what people are accepting as art. It affects me personally because art culture is something so important to me; art affects me and it means so much to me whether it be music, literature, fashion, design, fine art — it's all so important, I think it's really what, at least for me, it's what life is about, it’s what’s important, it’s what’s moving, it’s what inspires you, it’s what life is about. So when we’re seeing such decline in that art culture right now it’s heartbreaking to me.
  • This is precisely what is decisive in Nietzsche’s conception of art, that he sees it in its essential entirety in terms of the artist; this he does consciously and in explicit opposition to that conception of art which represents it in terms of those who “enjoy” and “experience” it. That is a guiding principle of Nietzsche’s teaching on art: art must be grasped in terms of creators and producers, not recipients. Nietzsche expresses it unequivocally in the following words (WM, 811): “Our aesthetics heretofore has been a woman’s aesthetics, inasmuch as only the recipients of art have formulated their experiences of ‘what is beautiful.’ In all philosophy to date the artist is missing.” Philosophy of art means “aesthetics” for Nietzsche too—but masculine aesthetics, not feminine aesthetics. The question of art is the question of the artist as the productive, creative one; his experiences of what is beautiful must provide the standard.
  • If the subject of art
    will be a broken jug
    a small broken soul
    with a great self-pity
    what will remain of us
    will be like tears of lovers
    in a small dirty hotel
    when wallpapers dawn
  • Art quickens nature; care will make a face; Neglected beauty perisheth apace.
  • 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.
  • Ars longa, vita brevis est.
    • Art [of healing] is long, but life is fleeting.
    • Hippocrates, Aphorismi, I, Nobilissimus Medicus; Translated from the Greek. Goethe, Wilhelm Meister, VII, 9. In Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 43-45.
  • The temple of art is built of words. Painting and sculpture and music are but the blazon of its windows, borrowing all their significance from the light, and suggestive only of the temple's uses.
    • Josiah Gilbert Holland, Plain Talks on Familiar Subjects, Art and Life. In Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 43-45.
  • It is not strength, but art, obtains the prize,
    And to be swift is less than to be wise.
    'Tis more by art, than force of numerous strokes.
    • Homer, The Iliad, Book 23, line 382. Pope's translation In Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 43-45.
  • Pictoribus atque poetis
    Quidlibet audendi semper fuit æqua potestas.
    • Painters and poets have equal license in regard to everything.
    • Horace, Ars Poetica (18 BC), 9. In Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 43-45.
  • 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.
  • My idea of a perfect surrealist painting is one in which every detail is perfectly realistic, yet filled with a surrealistic, dreamlike mood. And the viewer himself can't understand why that mood exists, because there are no dripping watches or grotesque shapes as reference points. That is what I'm after: that mood which is apart from everyday life, the type of mood that one experiences at very special moments.
    • Ian Hornak, The 57th Street Review (January 1976).
  • The artist tries to see what there is to be interested in... He has not created something, he has seen something.

I[edit]

J[edit]

  • Piety in art—poetry in art—Puseyism in art—let us be careful how we confound them.
    • Mrs. Jameson, Memoirs and Essays, The House of Titian. In Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 43-45.
  • [It] is that rare impressionist painting where people don't judge the light, but rather are judged by it.
    • Alexandra Johnson, On Terrace at Sainte-Adresse by Claude Monet, Christian Science Monitor (1 October 1980).
  • Art hath an enemy called Ignorance.
    • Ben Jonson, Every Man out of His Humour (1598), Act I, scene 1.
  • Art is the human disposition of sensible or intelligible matter for an aesthetic end.
    • James Joyce, Notebook entry, Paris (28 March 1903), printed in James Joyce: Occasional, Critical and Political Writing (2002) edited by Kevin Barry [Oxford University Press, 2002, ISBN 0-192-83353-7], p. 104.

K[edit]

Most artists are surrealists. … always dreaming something and then they paint it. ~ Dong Kingman
  • Most historians of science, when they mention Kaluza's work at all, say that the idea of the fifth dimension was a bolt out of the blue, totally unexpected and original. ...But their amazement is probably due to their unfamiliarity with the nonscientific work of the mytics, literati, and avante garde. ...because of Hinton, Zollner, and others, the possible existence of higher dimensions was probably the single most popular quasi-scientific idea circulating within the arts. ...the work of Riemann pollinated the world of arts and letters via Hinton and Zollner, and then probably cross-pollinated back into the world of science through the work of Kaluza.
    • Michio Kaku, Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the 10th Dimension (1995).
  • All the art since the Renaissance seemed too men-oriented. I liked (the) object quality. An Egyptian pyramid, a Sung vase, the Romanesque church appealed to me. The forms found in the vaulting of a cathedral or even a splatter of tar on the road seemed more valid and instructive and a more voluptuous experience than either geometric or action painting.
    • Ellsworth Kelly 'Notes from 1969'; as quoted in “Ellsworth Kelly: Works on Paper”, ed. Diane Upright, Harry N. Inc., Publishers, New York, in association with the Fort Worth Art Museum, New York, 1987, p. 9.
  • Three men riding on a bicycle which has only one wheel, I guess that's surrealist.
    • Dong Kingman, Twenty-two Famous Painters and Illustrators Tell How They Work (1964).
  • Most artists are surrealists. … always dreaming something and then they paint it.
    • Dong Kingman, Twenty-two Famous Painters and Illustrators Tell How They Work (1964).
  • We have learned to whittle the Eden Tree to the shape of a surplice peg,
    We have learned to bottle our parents twain in the yelk of an addled egg.
    We know that the tail must wag the dog, for the horse is drawn by the cart,
    But the devil whoops, as he whooped of old; It's clever, but is it art?
    • Rudyard Kipling, The Conundrum of the Workshops. In Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 43-45.
  • The more minimal the art, the more maximum the explanation.
    • Hilton Kramer, The New York Times art critic, in the late 1960s when the term "minimal art" was in vogue; reported in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989).

L[edit]

  • Creation always involves building upon something else. There is no art that doesn't reuse. And there will be less art if every reuse is taxed by the appropriator.
  • Bad art is more tragically beautiful than good art, because it documents human failure.
    • Henry Letham, Stay
  • In Science the paramount appeal is to the Intellect — its purpose being instruction; in Art, the paramount appeal is to the Emotions — its purpose being pleasure. A work of Art must of course indirectly appeal to the Intellect, and a work of Science will also indirectly appeal to the Feelings; nevertheless a poem on the stars and a treatise on astronomy have distinct aims and distinct methods. But having recognised the broadly-marked differences, we are called upon to ascertain the underlying resemblances. Logic and Imagination belong equally to both. It is only because men have been attracted by the differences that they have overlooked the not less important affinities.
  • All art is solitary and the studio is a torture area.
    • Alexander Liberman, The New York Times (13 May 1979).
  • The counterfeit and counterpart
    Of Nature reproduced in art.
  • 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.
  • Dead he is not, but departed,—for the artist never dies.
  • The Art Snob can be recognized in the home by the quick look he gives the pictures on your walls, quick but penetrating, as though he were undressing them. This is followed either by complete and pained silence or a comment such as 'That's really a very pleasant little water color you have there.'
  • The Art Snob will stand back from a picture at some distance, his head cocked slightly to one side. … After a long period of gazing (during which he may occasionally squint his eyes), he will approach to within a few inches of the picture and examine the brushwork; he will then return to his former distant position, give the picture another glance and walk away.

M[edit]

A genuine work of art must mean many things; the truer its art, the more things it will mean. ~ George MacDonald
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
I tried to show you art, but you just pick it apart. ~ Marshall Bruce Mathers III
  • A genuine work of art must mean many things; the truer its art, the more things it will mean. If my drawing, on the other hand, is so far from being a work of art that it needs THIS IS A HORSE written under it, what can it matter that neither you nor your child should know what it means? It is there not so much to convey a meaning as to wake a meaning. If it do not even wake an interest, throw it aside. A meaning may be there, but it is not for you. If, again, you do not know a horse when you see it, the name written under it will not serve you much.
  • Can someone eat the fruit that comes from the tree of action that grows from the seeds of your mind?.
  • The bird of truth would not be able to fly if it weren't for the air of lies we breathe.
  • Art indeed is long, but life is short.
  • It is only after years of preparation that the young [artist] should touch color — not color used descriptively, that is, but as a means of personal expression.
  • Drawing is like making an expressive gesture with the advantage of permanence.
  • Art does not imitate, but interpret. It searches out the idea lying dormant in the symbol, in order to present the symbol to men in such form as to enable them to penetrate through it to the idea. Were it otherwise, what would be the use or value of art?
  • Instinct and study; love and hate;
    Audacity — reverence. These must mate,
    And fuse with Jacob's mystic heart,
    To wrestle with the angel — Art.
  • For Art is Nature made by Man
    To Man the interpreter of God.
    • Owen Meredith (Lord Lytton), The Artist, Stanza 26. In Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 43-45.
  • My job is to make art expensive.
    • Tobias Meyer in The New Yorker, 20 March 2006, pp. 88-100.
  • What do we do when things are hard to describe? We start by sketching out the roughest shapes to serves as scaffolds for the rest; it does not matter very much if some of those forms turn out partially wrong. Next, draw details to give these skeletons more life-like flesh. Last, in the final filling-in, discard whatever first ideas no longer fit. ...Until you've seen some of the rest, you can't make sense of any part.
  • I don’t distinguish between magic and art. When I got into magic, I realised I had been doing it all along, ever since I wrote my first pathetic story or poem when I was twelve or whatever. This has all been my magic, my way of dealing with it.
    • Alan Moore, from an "Alan Moore Interview" by Matthew De Abaitua (1998), later published in Alan Moore: Conversations (2011) edited by Eric L. Berlatsky.
  • The heart desires,
    The hand refrains,
    The Godhead fires,
    The soul attains.
    • William Morris; inscribed on the four pictures of Pygmalion and Galatea by Burne-Jones, in the Grosvenor Gallery, London. In Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 43-45.
  • Most painting in the European tradition was painting the mask. Modern art rejected all that. Our subject matter was the person behind the mask.
  • Many are willing to suffer for their art. Few are willing to learn to draw.

N[edit]

  • Art is the supreme task and the truly metaphysical activity in this life
  • Thus the man who is responsive to artistic stimuli reacts to the reality of dreams as does the philosopher to the reality of existence; he observes closely, and he enjoys his observation: for it is out of these images that he interprets life, out of these processes that he trains himself for life.
  • Greek tragedy met her death in a different way from all the older sister arts: she died tragically by her own hand, after irresolvable conflicts, while the others died happy and peaceful at an advanced age. If a painless death, leaving behind beautiful progeny, is the sign of a happy natural state, then the endings of the other arts show us the example of just such a happy natural state: they sink slowly, and with their dying eyes they behold their fairer offspring, who lift up their heads in bold impatience. The death of Greek tragedy, on the other hand, left a great void whose effects were felt profoundly, far and wide; as once Greek sailors in Tiberius' time heard the distressing cry 'the god Pan is dead' issuing from a lonely island, now, throughout the Hellenic world, this cry resounded like an agonized lament: 'Tragedy is dead! Poetry itself died with it! Away, away with you, puny, stunted imitators! Away with you to Hades, and eat your fill of the old masters' crumbs!'
  • But for Socrates, tragedy did not even seem to "tell what's true", quite apart from the fact that it addresses "those without much wit", not the philosopher: another reason for giving it a wide berth. Like Plato, he numbered it among the flattering arts which represent only the agreeable, not the useful, and therefore required that his disciples abstain most rigidly from such unphilosophical stimuli — with such success that the young tragedian, Plato, burnt his writings in order to become a pupil of Socrates.
  • We cannot help but see Socrates as the turning-point, the vortex of world history. For if we imagine that the whole incalculable store of energy used in that global tendency had been used not in the service of knowledge but in ways applied to the practical — selfish — goals of individuals and nations, universal wars of destruction and constant migrations of peoples would have enfeebled man's instinctive zest for life to the point where, suicide having become universal, the individual would perhaps feel a vestigial duty as a son to strangle his parents, or as a friend his friend, as the Fiji islanders do: a practical pessimism that could even produce a terrible ethic of genocide through pity, and which is, and always has been, present everywhere in the world where art has not in some form, particularly as religion and science, appeared as a remedy and means of prevention for this breath of pestilence.
  • Science, spurred by its powerful illusion, speeds irresistibly towards its limits where its optimism, concealed in the essence of logic, suffers shipwreck. For the periphery of the circle of science has an infinite number of points...noble and gifted men...reach...inevitably, such boundary points on the periphery from which one gazes into what defies illumination. When they see to their horror how logic coils up at these boundaries and finally bites its own tail-suddenly the new form of insight breaks through, tragic insight which, merely to be endured, needs art as a protection and a remedy.
  • Only by forgetting this primitive world of metaphor can one live with any repose, security, and consistency: only by means of the petrification and coagulation of a mass of images which originally streamed from the primal faculty of human imagination like a fiery liquid, only in the invincible faith that this sun, this window, this table is a truth in itself, in short, only by forgetting that he himself is an artistically creating subject, does man live with any repose, security, and consistency. If but for an instant he could escape from the prison walls of this faith, his "self consciousness" would be immediately destroyed.
  • The Art of a well-developed genius is far different from the Artfulness of the Understanding, of the merely reasoning mind. Shakspeare was no calculator, no learned thinker; he was a mighty, many-gifted soul, whose feelings and works, like products of Nature, bear the stamp of the same spirit; and in which the last and deepest of observers will still find new harmonies with the infinite structure of the Universe; concurrences with later ideas, affinities with the higher powers and senses of man. They are emblematic, have many meanings, are simple and inexhaustible, like products of Nature; and nothing more unsuitable could be said of them than that they are works of Art, in that narrow mechanical acceptation of the word.

O[edit]

The symbol of art is seen again in the magic flute of the Great God Pan which makes the young goats frisk at the edge of the grove. ~ José Ortega y Gasset
  • He searched disorder for its unifying principle.
    • Brian O'Doherty, On Stuart Davis, abstractionist whose work prefigured pop art, The New York Times (26 June 1964).
  • Art is marks on canvas trying to find a place to live.
  • Were art to redeem man, it could do so only by saving him from the seriousness of life and restoring him to an unexpected boyishness. The symbol of art is seen again in the magic flute of the Great God Pan which makes the young goats frisk at the edge of the grove.
    All modern art begins to appear comprehensible and in a way great when it is interpreted as an attempt to instill youthfulness into an ancient world.
    • José Ortega y Gasset, in "Art a Thing of No Consequence", The Dehumanization of Art and Ideas about the Novel [La deshumanización del Arte e Ideas sobre la novela] (1925).
  • Arte citæ veloque rates remoque moventur;
    Arte levis currus, arte regendus Amor.
    • By arts, sails, and oars, ships are rapidly moved; arts move the light chariot, and establish love.
    • Ovid, Ars Amatoria, I. 3. In Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 43-45.

P[edit]

  • Art has two constant, two unending concerns: It always meditates on death and thus always creates life. All great, genuine art resembles and continues the Revelation of St John.
    • Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago, translated by Max Hayward and Manya Harari (Pantheon 1958).
  • For a long time I limited myself to one color — as a form of discipline.
  • In the twentieth century, modernism and postmodernism took over, and their practitioners disdained beauty as bourgeois, saccharine, lightweight. Art was deliberately made incomprehensible or ugly or shocking... on the assumption that our predilections... were reversible social constructions. This also led to an exaggeration of the dynamic of social status that has always been part of the arts. The elite arts used to be aligned with the economic and political aristocracy. They involved displays of sumptuosity and the flaunting of rare and precious skills that only the idle rich could cultivate. But now that any schmo could afford a Mozart CD or go to a free museum, artists had to figure out new ways to differentiate themselves from the rabble. So art became baffling and uninterpretable—unless you had some acquaintance with arcane theory.
  • Abstract painting is abstract. It confronts you.

Q[edit]

  • The perfection of art is to conceal art.
    • Quintilian. In Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 43-45.

R[edit]

Things are not all so comprehensible and expressible as one would mostly have us believe; most events are inexpressible, taking place in a realm which no word has ever entered, and more inexpressible than all else are works of art, mysterious existences, the life of which, while ours passes away, endures. ~ Rainer Maria Rilke
  • Die Kunst ist zwar nicht das Brod, aber der Wein des Lebens.
    • Art is indeed not the bread but the wine of life.
    • Jean Paul Richter In Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 43-45.
  • Things are not all so comprehensible and expressible as one would mostly have us believe; most events are inexpressible, taking place in a realm which no word has ever entered, and more inexpressible than all else are works of art, mysterious existences, the life of which, while ours passes away, endures.
  • Art means to dare — and to have been right.
  • That is what Castle's work needed: a beginner's eye—my eye, before it became too schooled and guarded, while it was still in touch with the vulgar foundations of the art, still vulnerably naive enough to receive that faint and flickering revelation of the dark god whose scriptures are the secret history of the movies.
  • In a time when so many artists have learned to confabulate with extremes of horror and alienation, the most daring thing an artist can do is to fill a book, a gallery, or a theater with joy, hope, and beauty.
    • Betty and Theodore Roszak, "Deep Form in Art and Nature" Alexandria 4, Vol.4 The Order of Beauty and Nature (1997) ed. David Fideler.
  • The bond of sympathy, like the artist's eye for beauty, may stretch across many divisions.
    • Theodore Roszak, The Gendered Atom: Reflections on the Sexual Psychology of Science (1999).
  • Greater completion marks the progress of art, absolute completion usually its decline.
    • John Ruskin, The Seven Lamps of Architecture, Chapter IV, Part XXX, The Lamp of Beauty In Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 43-45.
  • Life without industry is guilt, and industry without art is brutality.

S[edit]

The universe was made on purpose, the circle said. … In the fabric of space and in the nature of matter, as in a great work of art, there is, written small, the artist’s signature. ~ Carl Sagan
The role of art is to make a world which can be inhabited. ~ William Saroyan
  • The universe was made on purpose, the circle said. In whatever galaxy you happen to find yourself, you take the circumference of a circle, divide it by its diameter, measure closely enough, and uncover a miracle — another circle, drawn kilometers downstream of the decimal point. There would be richer messages farther in. It doesn't matter what you look like, or what you're made of, or where you come from. As long as you live in this universe, and have a modest talent for mathematics, sooner or later you'll find it. It's already here. It's inside everything. You don't have to leave your planet to find it. In the fabric of space and in the nature of matter, as in a great work of art, there is, written small, the artist’s signature. Standing over humans, gods, and demons, subsuming Caretakers and Tunnel builders, there is an intelligence that antedates the universe.
  • Art is what is irresistible.
    • William Saroyan, as quoted by William Bolcolm in "The End of the Mannerist Century" (2004), The Pleasure of Modernist Music, Ashby, Arved, ed. ISBN 1580461433
  • The role of art is to make a world which can be inhabited.
    • William Saroyan Recalled at his Broadway memorial service, The New York Times (31 October 83).
  • Seraphs share with thee
    Knowledge; But Art, O Man, is thine alone!
    • Friedrich Schiller, The Artists, Stanza 2. In Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 43-45.
  • Von der Freiheit gesäugt wachsen die Künste der Lust.
    • All the arts of pleasure grow when suckled by freedom.
    • Friedrich Schiller, Der Spaziergang, line 122. In Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 43-45.
  • Kunst ist die rechte Hand der Natur. Diese hat nur Geschöpfe, jene hat Menschen gemacht.
    • Art is the right hand of Nature. The latter has only given us being, the former has made us men.
    • Friedrich Schiller, Fiesco, II. 17. In Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 43-45.
  • Schwer ist die Kunst, vergänglich ist ihr Preis.
    • Art is difficult, transient is her reward.
    • Friedrich Schiller, Wallenstein, Prolog, line 40. In Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 43-45.
  • It holds up in one object or one surface, in one bright, luminous and concentrated thing — whether a beer can or a flag — all the dispersed elements that go to make up our lives.
    • Robert C. Scull on his collection of pop and minimal art, Time (21 February 1964).
  • After a few months in my parents' basement, I took an apartment near the state university, where I discovered both crystal methamphetamine and conceptual art. Either one of these things are dangerous, but in combination they have the potential to destroy entire civilizations.
  • Illa maximi medicorum exclamatio est, Vitam brevem esse, longam artem.
    • That is the utterance of the greatest of physicians, that life is short and art long.
    • Seneca the Younger, De Brevitate Vitæ, I In Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 43-45.
  • To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
    To throw a perfume on the violet,
    To smooth the ice, or add another hue
    Unto the rainbow.
  • Dead artists always bring out an older, richer crowd.
    • Elizabeth Shaw, on a fauvism exhibition that drew 2,000 people, The New York Times (26 March 1976).
  • Art is the magic mirror you make to reflect your invisible dreams in visible pictures. You use a glass mirror to see your face: you use works of art to see your soul. But we who are older use neither glass mirrors nor works of art. We have a direct sense of life. When you gain that you will put aside your mirrors and statues, your toys and your dolls.
    • Art is the signature of civilizations.
  • Beverly Sills, As quoted in The Beacon Book of Quotations by Women (1992) by Rosalie Maggio.
  • The very first moment when I realized what abstract art is, was the moment when my father came to my exhibition and he said: – Okay, but where are the pictures?
  • There is no pulse so sure of the state of a nation as its characteristic art product which has nothing to do with its material life.
  • We create art to express our perception as to what is not visible in nature. There is no past or future in art…. art should always be in the present!

T[edit]

  • Under the impulse of such ideas [upon which an Acquisitive Society is based] men do not become religious or wise or artistic; for religion and wisdom and art imply the acceptance of limitations. But they become powerful and rich. They inherit the earth and change the face of nature, if they do not possess their own souls; and they have that appearance of freedom which consists in the absence of obstacles between opportunities for self-advancement and those whom birth or wealth or talent or good fortune has placed in a position to seize them.
  • Art is a human activity having for its purpose the transmission to others of the highest and best feelings to which men have risen.
  • Art is a human activity consisting in this, that one consciously, by means of certain external symbols, conveys to others the feelings one has experienced, whereby people so infected by these feelings, also experience them.
  • In order to correctly define art, it is necessary, first of all, to cease to consider it as a means to pleasure and consider it as one of the conditions of human life. ...Reflecting on it in this way, we cannot fail to observe that art is one of the means of effective communication between people.
  • The activity of art is... as important as the activity of language itself, and as universal.
  • Art happens all the time, everywhere. All we have to do is to keep our minds open.

V[edit]

  • The very object of an art, the principle of its artifice, is precisely to impart the impression of an ideal state in which the man who reaches it will be capable of spontaneously producing, with no effort of hesitation, a magnificent and wonderfully ordered expression of his nature and our destinies.
    • Paul Valery - Remarks on Poetry in The Art of Poetry, Vintage, 1958, p. 215.
  • The superior gratification derived from the use and contemplation of costly and supposedly beautiful products is, commonly, in great measure a gratification of our sense of costliness masquerading under the name of beauty.
  • Any valuable object in order to appeal to our sense of beauty must conform to the requirements of beauty and of expensiveness both. But this is not all. Beyond this the canon of expensiveness also affects our tastes in such a way as to inextricably blend the marks of expensiveness, in our appreciation, with the beautiful features of the object, and to subsume the resultant effect under the head of an appreciation of beauty simply. The marks of expensiveness come to be accepted as beautiful features of the expensive articles. They are pleasing as being marks of honorific costliness, and the pleasure which they afford on this score blends with that afforded by the beautiful form and color of the object.
    • Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions (1899).
  • By habitually identifying beauty with reputability, it comes about that a beautiful article which is not expensive is accounted not beautiful.
    • Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions (1899).
  • The taste of the more recent accessions to the leisure class proper and of the middle and lower classes still requires a pecuniary beauty to supplement the aesthetic beauty, even in those objects which are primarily admired for the beauty that belongs to them as natural growths.
    • Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions (1899).
  • Hence has arisen that exaltation of the defective, of which John Ruskin and William Morris were such eager spokesmen in their time; and on this ground their propaganda of crudity and wasted effort has been taken up... And hence also the propaganda for a return to handicraft and household industry. So much of the work and speculations of this group of men... would have been impossible at a time when the visibly more perfect goods were not the cheaper.
    • Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions (1899).
  • In aesthetic theory it might be extremely difficult, if not quite impracticable, to draw a line between the canon of classicism, or regard for the archaic, and the canon of beauty.

W[edit]

We can forgive a man for making a useful thing, as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely. All art is quite useless. ~ Oscar Wilde
  • It was Homer who gave laws to the artist.
    • Francis Wayland, The Iliad and the Bible. In Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 43-45.
  • Art is the symbol of the two noblest human efforts: to construct and to refrain from destruction.
    • Simone Weil, The Pre-War Notebook (1933-1939), published in First and Last Notebooks (1970) edited by Richard Rees.
  • Around the mighty master came
    The marvels which his pencil wrought,
    Those miracles of power whose fame
    Is wide as human thought.
  • Mathematics is too arduous and uninviting a field to appeal to those to whom it does not give great rewards. These rewards are of exactly the same character as those of the artist. To see a difficult uncompromising material take living shape and meaning is to be Pygmalion, whether the material is stone or hard, stonelike logic. To see meaning and understanding come where there has been no meaning and no understanding is to share the work of a demiurge. No amount of technical correctness and no amount of labour can replace this creative moment, whether in the life of a mathematician or of a painter or musician. Bound up with it is a judgement of values, quite parallel to the judgement of values that belongs to the painter or the musician. Neither the artist nor the mathematician may be able to tell you what constitutes the difference between a significant piece of work and an inflated trifle; but if he is not able to recognise this in his own heart, he is no artist and no mathematician.
  • Art is the most intense mode of Individualism that the world has known. I am inclined to say that it is the only real mode of Individualism that the world has known. Crime, which, under certain conditions, may seem to have created Individualism, must take cognisance of other people and interfere with them. It belongs to the sphere of action. But alone, without any reference to his neighbours, without any interference, the artist can fashion a beautiful thing; and if he does not do it solely for his own pleasure, he is not an artist at all.
  • Art is individualism, and individualism is a disturbing and disintegrating force. There lies its immense value. For what it seeks is to disturb monotony of type, slavery of custom, tyranny of habit, and the reduction of man to the level of a machine.
    • Oscar Wilde in The Soul of Man under Socialism (1891)
  • In short, if newspapers were written by people whose sole object in writing was to tell the truth about politics and the truth about art we should not believe in war, and we should believe in art.
  • I don't really have studios. I wander around — around people's attics, out in fields, in cellars, anyplace I find that invites me.

X[edit]

Y[edit]

Z[edit]

  • The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work.
    • Émile Zola, As quoted in Wisdom for the Soul : Five Millennia of Prescriptions for Spiritual Healing‎ (2006) by Larry Chang , p. 55.

Anonymous[edit]

See also[edit]

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