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Quotations on Art

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Supreme art is a traditional statement of certain heroic and religious truth, passed on from age to age, modified by individual genius, but never abandoned.

~ William Butler Yeats

Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.

~ Oscar Wilde

Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better.

~ André Gide

Nature is a revelation of God; Art a revelation of man.

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Nothing is so poor and melancholy as art that is interested in itself and not in its subject.

~ George Santayana

As long as art is the beauty parlor of civilization, neither art nor civilization is secure.

~ John Dewey

I look forward to an America which will reward achievement in the arts as we reward achievement in business or statecraft. I look forward to an America which will steadily raise the standards of artistic accomplishment and which will steadily enlarge cultural opportunities for all of our citizens. And I look forward to an America which commands respect throughout the world not only for its strength but for its civilization as well.

~ John F. Kennedy

- remarks upon receiving an honorary degree, Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts, October 26, 1963


There is a connection, hard to explain logically but easy to feel, between achievement in public life and progress in the arts. The age of Pericles was also the age of Phidias. The age of Lorenzo de Medici was also the age of Leonardo da Vinci. The age of Elizabeth was also the age of Shakespeare. And the New Frontier for which I campaign in public life, can also be a New Frontier for American art.

~ John F. Kennedy

- letter to Miss Theodate Johnson, publisher of Musical America, September 13, 1960


We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda, it is a form of truth.

~ John F. Kennedy

If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him.

~ John F. Kennedy

Classic art was the art of necessity: modern romantic art bears the stamp of caprice and chance.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

In art the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can inspire.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Art is a jealous mistress, and if a man has a genius for painting, poetry, music, architecture or philosophy, he makes a bad husband and an ill provider.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Perpetual modernness is the measure of merit in every work of art.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The artists must be sacrificed to their art. Like the bees, they must put their lives into the sting they give.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The torpid artist seeks inspiration at any cost, by virtue or by vice, by friend or by fiend, by prayer or by wine.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The true artist has the planet for his pedestal; the adventurer, after years of strife, has nothing broader than his shoes.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nothing is more the child of art than a garden.

~ Sir Walter Scott

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.

~ Albert Einstein

Science and art belong to the whole world, and before them vanish the barriers of nationality.

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The work of art may have a moral effect, but to demand moral purpose from the artist is to make him ruin his work.

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Art is moral passion married to entertainment. Moral passion without entertainment is propaganda, and entertainment without moral passion is television.

~ Rita Mae Brown

Art is a kind of innate drive that seizes a human being and makes him its instrument. To perform this difficult office it is sometimes necessary for him to sacrifice happiness and everything that makes life worth living for the ordinary human being.

~ Carl Gustav Jung

What was any art but a mould in which to imprison for a moment the shining elusive element which is life itself - life hurrying past us and running away, too strong to stop, too sweet to lose.

~ Willa Cather

Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere.

~ G.K. Chesterton

There are certain things in which mediocrity is intolerable: poetry, music, painting, public eloquence. What torture it is to hear a frigid speech being pompously declaimed, or second-rate verse spoken with all a bad poet's bombast!

~ Jean de La Bruyère

The role of the artist I now understood as that of revealing through the world-surfaces the implicit forms of the soul, and the great agent to assist the artist was the myth.

~ Joseph Campbell

My mother said to me, "If you become a soldier, you'll be a general; if you become a monk, you'll end up as the Pope." Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.

~ Pablo Picasso

All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.

~ Pablo Picasso

Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot, others transform a yellow spot into the sun.

~ Pablo Picasso

The people who make art their business are mostly imposters.

~ Pablo Picasso

Every garden-maker should be an artist along his own lines. That is the only possible way to create a garden, irespective of size or wealth.

~ Vita Sackville-West

Laying out grounds may be considered a liberal art, in some sort like poetry and painting.

~ William Wordsworth

I said to myself - I'll paint what I see - what the flower is to me but I'll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking time to look at it - I will make even busy New Yorkers take time to see what I see of flowers.

~ Georgia O'Keeffe

If one could only reproduce nature, and always with less beauty than the original, why paint at all?

~ Georgia O'Keeffe

I would rather teach drawing that my pupils may learn to love nature, than teach the looking at nature that they may learn to draw.

~ John Ruskin

Art is the desire of a man to express himself, to record the reactions of his personality to the world he lives in.

~ Amy Lowell

Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.

~ Henry Ward Beecher

All art is a revolt against man's fate.

~ André Malraux

An artist's duty is rather to stay open-minded and in a state where he can receive information and inspiration. You always have to be ready for that little artistic Epiphany.

~ Nick Cave

I'm very happy to hear that my work inspires writers and painters. It's the most beautiful compliment, the greatest reward. Art should always be an exchange.

~ Nick Cave

Christmas renews our youth by stirring our wonder. The capacity for wonder has been called our most pregnant human faculty, for in it are born our art, our science, our religion.

~ Ralph W. Sockman

To my mind the old masters are not art; their value is in their scarcity.

~ Thomas A. Edison

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.

~ Michelangelo

The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.

~ Michelangelo

Art is an effort to create, beside the real world, a more human world.

~ André Maurois

Woe to the hand that shed this costly blood.

~ William Shakespeare

The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.

~ Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Art is a form of catharsis.

~ Dorothy Parker

Great artists treasure their time with a bitter and snarling miserliness.

~ Catherine Drinker Bowen

The more minimal the art, the more maximum the explanation.

~ Hilton Kramer

Abstract art: a product of the untalented sold by the unprincipled to the utterly bewildered.

~ Al Capp

The art of a people is a true mirror of their minds.

~ Jawaharlal Nehru

The course of Nature is the art of God.

~ Edward Young

Great art is as irrational as great music. It is mad with its own loveliness.

~ George Jean Nathan

The artist does not illustrate science [but] he frequently responds to the same interests that a scientist does.

~ Lewis Mumford

If my husband would ever meet a woman on the street who looked like the women in his paintings, he would fall over in a dead faint.

~ Mrs. Pablo Picasso

Fashion is a potency in art, making it hard to judge between the temporary and the lasting.

~ E.C. Stedman

Art is the stored honey of the human soul, gathered on wings of misery and travail.

~ Theodore Dreiser

There is no such thing as modern art. There is art - and there is advertising.

~ Albert Sterner

An artist cannot speak about his art any more than a plant can discuss horticulture.

~ Jean Cocteau

One puts into one's art what one has not been capable of putting into one's existence. It is because he was unhappy that God created the world.

~ Henri de Montherlant

The defining function of the artist is to cherish consciousness.

~ Max Eastman

What seems to me the highest and the most difficult achievement of Art is not to make us laugh or cry, or to rouse our lust or our anger, but to do as nature does - that is, fill us with wonderment.

~ Gustave Flaubert

As an artist grows older, he has to fight disillusionment and learn to establish the same relation to nature as an adult as he had when a child.

~ Charles Burchfield

Art is contemplation. It is the pleasure of the mind which searches into nature and which there divines the spirit of which Nature herself is animated.

~ François Auguste René Rodin

Nature is garrulous to the point of confusion, let the artist be truly taciturn.

~ Paul Klee

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