Pablo Picasso

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Pablo Picasso, 1962

Pablo Ruiz Picasso (25 October 18818 April 1973) was a Spanish artist who lived and worked in Paris for many years. Around 1906–1908 together with Georges Braque he initiated cubism, based on a strong inspiration of Paul Cézanne's work.

Quotes of Pablo Picasso[edit]


"Picasso Speaks," 1923[edit]

"Picasso Speaks." in The Arts, New York, May 1923. pp. 315-26; Reprinted in Alfred Barr: Picasso, New York 1946, pp. 270-1.

Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso and Andre Salmon in Montparnasse, Paris in 1916.
  • I can hardly understand the importance given to the word research in connection with modern painting. In my opinion to search means nothing in painting. To find is the thing. Nobody is interested in following a man who, with his eyes fixed on the ground, spends his life looking for the purse that fortune should put in his path. The one who finds something no matter what it might be, even if his intention were not to search for it, at least arouses our curiosity, if not our admiration.
    • p. 315
  • We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand. The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies. If he only shows in his work that he has searched, and re-searched, for the way to put over lies, he would never accomplish anything.
    • p. 315.
  • Cubism is no different from any other school of painting. The same principles and the same elements are common to all. The fact that for a long time cubism has not been understood and that even today there are people who cannot see anything in it, means nothing. I do not read English, and an English book is a blank to me. This does not mean that the English language does not exist, and why should I blame anyone but myself if I cannot understand what I know nothing about?
    • p. 319.
  • Variation does not mean evolution. If an artist varies his mode of expression this only means that he has changed his manner of thinking, and in changing, it might be for the better or it might be for the worse.
    • p. 391.
  • Many think that cubism is an art of transition, an experiment which is to bring ulterior results. Those who think that way have not understood it. Cubism is not either a seed or a foetus, but an art dealing primarily with forms, and when a form is realized it is there to live its own life. A mineral substance, having geometric formation, is not made so for transitory purposes, it is to remain what it is and will always have its own form.
    • p. 323.


  • The smell of opium is the least stupid smell in the world.
    • Attributed to Picasso in: Jean Cocteau (1932) Opium: The Diary of an Addict. p. 63
I do not search, I find.
  • I do not seek, I find.
    • Quoted in Graham Sutherland, "A Trend in English Draughtsmanship", Signature, III (1936), pp. 7-13.
  • It isn’t up to the painter to define the symbols. Otherwise it would be better if he wrote them out in so many words! The public who look at the picture must interpret the symbols as they understand them. And that chicken nuggets are like my famliy.
    • Picasso (1937), quote in: William Rowlandson (2007) Reading Lezama's Paradiso. p. 115.
    • Reply by Picasso when he was asked to explain the symbolism in the Guernica.
  • ..this bull is a bull and this horse is a horse... If you give a meaning to certain things in my paintings it may be very true, but it is not my idea to give this meaning. What ideas and conclusions you have got I obtained too, but instinctively, unconsciously. I make the painting for the painting. I paint the objects for what they are.
    • Quoted in: Paul Jones (2011) The Sociology of Architecture: Constructing Identities. p. 47.
    • Other explanation by Picasso of the Guernica.

"Conversation avec Picasso," 1935[edit]

Interview with Christian Zervos in: "Conversation avec Picasso," in Cahiers d'Art, Vol X, 7-10, (1935), p. 173-178. Translated in: Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Picasso: Fifty Years of His Art. 1946, and republished in: Herschel Browning Chip (1968) Theories of Modern Art: A Source Book by Artists and Critics. (1968), p. 266-273 ; Also quoted in: Richard Friedenthal, Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock -, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963. (translation Daphne Woodward).

  • It is my misfortune - and probably my delight - to use things as my passions tell me. What a miserable fate for a painter who adores blondes to have to stop himself putting them into a picture because they don't go with the basket of fruit!
    • Herschel Browning Chip (1968, p. 267).
  • In the old days pictures went forward toward completion by stages. Every day brought something new. A picture used to be a sum of additions. In my case a picture is a sum of destructions. I do a picture — then I destroy it. In the end though, nothing is lost: the red I took away from one place turns up somewhere else
    • Herschel Browning Chip (1968, p. 267)
    • Other translation:
      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.
      • Richard Friedenthal (1968, p. 256); Also quoted in: John Bowker (1988) Is anybody out there?: religions and belief in God in the contemporary world. p. 57.
  • Abstract art is only painting. What about drama?
    There is no abstract art. You always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.
    • Herschel Browning Chip (1968, p. 270).
    • Other translation:
      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.
      • Richard Friedenthal (1968, p. 256-7).
  • I deal with painting as I deal with things, I paint a window just as I look out of a window. If an open window looks wrong in a picture, I draw the curtain and shut it, just as I would in my own room. In painting, as in life, you must act directly.
    • Herschel Browning Chip (1968, p. 271).
  • Academic training in beauty is a sham. We have been deceived... The beauties of the Parthenon, Venuses, Nymphs, Narcissuses are so many lies. Art is not the application of a canon of beauty but what the instinct and the brain can conceive beyond any canon.
    • Herschel Browning Chip (1968, p. 271), quoted in Chipp (1978, 266); As cited in: Constance Milbrath (1998) Patterns of Artistic Development in Children, p. 257.


Stanisław Lorentz guides Pablo Picasso through the National Museum in Warsaw. 1948
  • Art is not made to decorate rooms. It is an offensive weapon in the defense against the enemy.
    • La peinture n’est pas faite pour décorer des appartements. C’est un instrument de guerre offensive et défensive contre l’ennemi.
    • La pintura no se ha inventado para adornar las habitaciones. La pintura es un arma ofensiva, en la defensa contra el enemigo.
    • Les lettres françaises (1943-03-24).


  • Les gloires, les trompettes, les palmes... et les bas-reliefs,... tout cela fait un monument
    • Translation: The glories, trumpets, palms... and low reliefs,... all that makes a monument.
    • Picasso (1952). Quoted in: Michael D. Garval (2004) "A Dream of Stone": Fame, Vision, and Monumentality in Nineteenth-century French Literary Culture. p. 226.
    • Picasso commented on the matter of the monument destruction in Paris.
  • When I don't have red, I use blue.
    • Pablo Picasso (1953); Quoted in: Kilkenny (2004) Doomsday Marauders, p. 83.
  • Accidents, try to change them - it's impossible. The accidental reveals man.
    • In: Vogue, 1 November 1956.
  • There are painters who transform the sun into a yellow spot but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence transform a yellow spot into a sun.
    • In: Sergei Eisenstein (1957) Film form [and]: The film sense, p. 127.


Picasso in Nice, France, 1961
  • 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 a spider ’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.
    • Quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock -, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 258 (translation Daphne Woodward)
  • Art is never chaste. It ought to be forbidden to ignorant innocents, never allowed into contact with those not sufficiently prepared. Yes, art is dangerous. Where it is chaste, it is not art.
    • In: Antonina Vallentin (1963) Picasso, p. 168.
  • [Speaking of computers] But they are useless. They can only give you answers.
    • As discussed in this entry from Quote Investigator, the origin seems to be the article "Pablo Picasso: A Composite Interview" by William Fifield which appeard in The Paris Review 32, Summer-Fall 1964, and collected a number of interviews Fifield had done with Picasso.
    • Common later variant: "Computers are useless. They can only give you answers." This variant seems to have arisen in the 1980s, the earliest known appearance in a book is Herman Feshbach, "Reflections on the Microprocessor Revolution: A Physicist's Viewpoint", in Man and Technology (1983), ed. Bruce M. Adkins, where the attribution is described as "rumoured".[1]
  • Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
    • Quoted in: LIFE, Vol. 57, nr. 11 (11 September 1964). p. 9.
  • It's like God's. God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant, and the cat. He has no real style. He just goes on trying other things.
    • Picasso quoted in 'TIME'; Quoted in: The Atlantic, Vol. 214 (1964), p. 97.
    • Picasso commented on his ambiguous style, or use of multiple styles.
  • When there's anything to steal, I steal
    • Quoted in: Thought. Vol. 17 (1965). p. 154.
    • The magazine further commented:
      Picasso's remark — "When there's anything to steal, I steal" — was fair warning to the competition. In modern art he has been, for years, the cock-of- the-walk, (The broody hens, one supposes, are also part of that picture.) But the book is valuable, primarily, for Picasso's observations about his own work and the work of others.
  • It means nothing to me. I have no opinion about it, and I don't care.
    • On the first moon landing, quoted in The New York Times, (1969-07-21).
  • For me, there are two kinds of women — goddesses and doormats.
    • Quoted in: Briton Hadden, ‎Henry Robinson Luce (1969) Time, Vol. 93. p. 66.


Picasso and Lucien Clergue at Condor Films, 1973
  • It was thinking about Casagemas’s death that started me painting in blue.
    • Original: C’est en passant que Casagemas était mort que je me suis mis à piendre en bleu
    • Quoted in Pierre Daix, La Vie de Peintre de Pablo Picasso, Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1977.
    • Picasso explained his friend Pierre Daix (around 1965), why he started painting in blue early around 1905. Picasso had made a portrait of Carles Casagemas in 1899.
  • To contradict. To show one eye full face and one in profile. Nature does many things the way I do, but she hides them! My painting is a series of non-sequiturs. ...
    • Quoted in: Pierre Cabanne (1977) Pablo Picasso: His Life and Times, p. 268.
  • Success is dangerous. One begins to copy oneself and to copy oneself is more dangerous than to copy others.
    • Quoted in: The Artist, Vol. 93 (1978) p. 5.
  • Drink to me. Drink to my health. You know I can't drink any more.
    • Quoted in: Scott Slater, ‎Alec Solomita (1980) Exits: stories of dying moments & parting words. p. 8.
    • Slater & Solomita (1980) explained:
      "It was a spirited dinner and Picasso a cheerful, genial host. After the meal, while pouring wine into a friend's glass, Picasso said, Drink to me. Drink to my health. You know I can't drink any more. A little later, about 11:30 P.M., he left his guests, saying, And now I must go back to work. He was up painting until 3:00 A.M. That morning Picasso woke at 11:30, unable to move. By 11:40 he was dead..".

Attributed from posthumous publications[edit]

  • For a long time I limited myself to one colour — as a form of discipline.
    • On his "blue" and "rose" periods, quoted in Picasso on Art (1988), ed. Dore Ashton.
  • I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else. After all, what is a painter? He is a collector who gets what he likes in others by painting them himself. This is how I begin and then it becomes something else.
    • Quoted in: Ann Livermore (1988) Artists and Aesthetics in Spain. p. 154
Art is not made to decorate rooms. It is an offensive and defensive weapon against the enemy.
  • People who try to explain pictures are usually barking up the wrong tree.
    • Quoted in Picasso on Art (1988), ed. Dore Ashton.
  • Their forms had no more influence on me than they did on Matisse. Or Derain. But for them, the masks were sculptures like all others. When Matisse showed me his first African head, he spoke to me of Egyptian art.
    • Andre Malraux cites Picasso in: Anatoliĭ Podoksik, ‎Marina Aleksandrovna Bessonova, ‎Pablo Picasso (1989) Picasso: The Artists Work in Soviet Museums. p. 13.
    • Picasso talking about his discovery of African art.
  • Good artists copy, great artists steal.
    • Quoted in: InfoWorld, Vol. 11, Nr. 1-9 (1989).
  • La inspiración existe, pero tiene que encontrarte trabajando.
    • Translation: Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.
    • In: Tomás R. Villasante (1994) Las ciudades hablan: identidades y movimientos sociales en seis metrópolis latinoamericanas. p. 264.
  • People want to find a "meaning" in everything and everyone. That's the disease of our age, an age that is anything but practical but believes itself to be more practical than any other age.
    • Quoted in: Ingo F. Walther (1996) Picasso, p. 67.
  • It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.
    • Quoted in: Peter Erskine, ‎Rick Mattingly (1998) Drum Perspective, p. 73.
  • Painting isn't an aesthetic operation; it's a form of magic designed as mediator between this strange hostile world and us.
    • Quoted in Mario Livio, The Golden Ratio (2002), p. 159


  • I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it.
    • Attributed in Civilization's Quotations : Life's Ideal (2002) by Richard Alan Krieger, p. 132, and many places on the internet, this was actually stated by Vincent Van Gogh in a letter to Anthon van Rappard (August,18 1885)[2], also rendered "I am always doing what I can't do yet in order to learn how to do it."

Quotes about Picasso[edit]

  • ..[Picasso had] a depth of understanding and insight into the inwardness of things.. ..doing very exceptional things of a most abstract psychic nature..
    • Marsden Hartley in a letter (from Paris) to Rockwell Kent, August 22, 1912, Archives of American Art; as quoted in Marsden Hartley, by Gail R. Scott, Abbeville Publishers, Cross River Press, 1988, New York p. 42
  • People talk of Picasso as the leader of the Cubists but, strictly speaking, he is no longer a Cubist. Today he is a Cubist, tomorrow he will be something else. The only true Cubists are Gleizes and Metzinger.
    • Marcel Duchamp, his quote from 'A complete reversal of opinions on art'; Marcel Duchamp, in 'Art and Decoration', New York, 1 September 1915
  • A friend built a modern house and he suggested that Picasso too should have one built. But, said Picasso, of course not, I want an old house. Imagine, he said, if Michelangelo would have been pleased if someone had given him a fine piece of Renaissance furniture, not at all.
    • w:Gertrude Stein, Picasso (1938) [Dover, 1984, ISBN 0-486-24715-5], p. 31.
    • Note: Stein used the spelling "Michael Angelo" rather than "Michelangelo." The quotation preserves this spelling.
  • When he [Picasso] paints as an cubist, putting one tone next to another, the arrangement of planes is fine and the result very strong. But those who imitate him achieve nothing worthwhile.
    • Aristide Maillol in Conversations with Judith Cladel (1939 – 1944); as quoted in Artists on Art – from the 14th – 20th centuries, ed. by Robert Goldwater and Marco Treves; Pantheon Books, 1972, Londonp. p. 407
  • I have in front of me photographs of all Picasso’s best works. The mere I admire them the further I feel myself removed from all art, it seems so easy, so limited! We are part of the world creation, and we ourselves create nothing.
    • Arshile Gorky, in a letter to his future wife Agnes Magruder (Mougouch), 7 Mai 1941; as quoted in "Arshile Gorky, – Goats on the roof", ed. by Matthew Spender, Ridinghouse, London 2009, p. 168
  • I was with Cézanne for a long time, and now naturally I am with Picasso.
    • Arshile Gorky in: Gorky Memorial Exhibition, Schwabacher pp. 28
  • At that time I was very friendly with Picasso. Our temperaments were very different, but we had the same idea. Later on it became clear, Picasso is Spanish and I am French; as everyone knows that mean a lot of differences, but during those days the differences did not count... .We were living in Montmarte, we used to meet every day, we used to talk... In those years Picasso and I said things to each other that nobody will ever say again, that nobody could say any more... .It was rather like a pair of climbers roped together.
    • Georges Braque, referring to to the early starting years of Cubism in Paris with Picasso, ca. 1907 -1910; from an interview with Dora Vallier in 1954; as quoted in Letters of the Great Artists – From Blake to Pollock (1963) by Richard Friedenthal, translation: Daphne Woodward, p. 264
  • When we were so friendly with Picasso, there was a time when we had difficulty in recognizing our own pictures. Later, when the revelation went deeper, differences appeared. Revelation is the one thing that cannot be taken from you. But before the revelation took place, there was still a marked intention of carrying painting in a direction that could re-establish the bond between Picasso and ourselves.
    • Quote of Georges Braque, referring to early Cubism ca. 1907 -1910 in Paris; from an interview with Dora Vallier in 1954, as quoted in Letters of the Great Artists – From Blake to Pollock (1963) by Richard Friedenthal, translation: Daphne Woodward, p. 265
  • If we had never met Picasso, would Cubism have been what it is? I think not. The meeting with Picasso was a circumstance in our lives.
    • Georges Braque, in an interview with Dora Vallier in 1954, as quoted in Letters of the Great Artists – From Blake to Pollock (1963) by Richard Friedenthal, translation: Daphne Woodward, p. 265
  • The hard-and-fast rules of perspective which it succeeded in imposing on art were a ghastly mistake which it has taken four centuries to redress; Cezanne and after him Picasso and myself can take a lot of credit for this.. ..scientific perspective forces the objects in a picture to disappear away form the beholder instead of bringing them within his reach as painting should.
    • Georges Braque, his quote in The Observer, by John Richardson, 1 December 1957
  • Picasso's great fresco is a monument to destruction, a cry of outrage and horror amplified by the spirit of genius.
    • w:Herbert Read, "Guernica", in A Coat of Many Colours, Routledge, 1945.
  • * Picasso.. ..the master.. ..being a master: 'I don’t search, I find' [a famous quote of Picasso, where he criticize the 'searching' artists] ..the master, the mastery.. ..Producing, producing.. .He [Picasso!] only knows how to work, can’t do anything else. What lost souls!.. .The great risk is producing for its own sake. You must never force things. You just have to wait.
    • Bram van Velde, in Conversations with Samuel Beckett and Bram van Velde, ed. Charles Juliet, First Dalkey Archive edition, 2009, London and Champaign, 31 October 1966; p. 59
  • Picasso es pintor, yo también; Picasso es español, yo también; Picasso es comunista, yo tampoco.
    • Picasso is a painter, so am I; Picasso is Spanish, so am I; Picasso is a communist, neither am I.
    • Salvador Dalí (attributed).
  • Well, I looked at Picasso (at the Picasso exhibition in New York, Museum of Modern Art in 1939) until I could smell his armpits and the cigarette smoke on his breast. Finally, in front of one picture – a bone figure on a beach – I got it. I saw that the figure was not his real subject. The plasticity wasn't either – although the plasticity was great. No. Picasso had uncovered a feverishness in himself and is painting it – a feverishness of death and beauty.
    • William Baziotes, his quote in Modern Art U.S.A., R. Blesh, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1956, pp. 268-69

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