Quotes Collected by Ken Knowlton

Everyone carries his own inch-rule of taste, and amuses himself by applying it, triumphantly, wherever he travels.
     — Henry Brooks Adams

The arts are the only things that separate us from the other animals. The arts are not decorative ... They are essential to our comprehension of consciousness and ourselves.
     — Edward Albee

Art reveals to us the essence to things, the essence of our existence.
     — Rudolph Arnheim

Sometimes I think all my pictures are just pictures of me.
     — Richard Avedon

The arts convey truths; they are imagination crystallized; and as they transport the soul they reshape the perceptions and possibly the life of the beholder. To perform this feat requires genius, because it is not a mechanical act.
     — Jacques Barzun


Images require silence.
     — Jean Baudrillard

ART, n. This word has no definition.
     — Ambrose Bierce

Nations are destroyed or flourish, in proportion as their poetry, painting, and music are destroyed or flourish.
     — William Blake

Only one thing in art is valid, that which cannot be explained.
     — Georges Braque

Art is not a mirror to reflect reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.
     — Bertolt Brecht

Mystery is the basic element of all works of art.
     — Luis Bunuel

[A] field must have a structure if it is to be the subject of scholarly or scientific understanding. Where the formal possibilities have become infinite, not only authentic creation but also its scholarly analysis become correspondingly difficult.
     — Peter Burger

Every man's work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself.
     — Samuel Butler

[Abstract art is a] product of the untalented, sold by the unprincipled to the utterly bewildered.
     — Al Capp

Art, it seems to me, should simplify. That, indeed, is very nearly the whole of the higher artistic process; finding what conventions of form and what detail one can do without and yet preserve the spirit of the whole — so that all that one has suppressed and cut away is there to the reader's consciousness.
     — Willa Cather

The same subject seen from a different angle gives a motif of the highest interest, and so varied that I think I could be occupied for months without changing my place — simply bending a little more to the right or left.
     — Paul Cezanne

Painting from Nature is not copying the object, it is realizing one's sensations.
     — Paul Cezanne

You are right in demanding that an artist approach his work consciously, but you are confusing two concepts: the solution of a problem and the correct formulation of a problem. Only the second is required of the artist.
     — Anton Chekhov

Though [these brilliant and beautiful new pictures] captivate us at first sight, the pleasure does not last, while the very roughness and crudity of old paintings maintains their hold on us.
     — Cicero

[W]hat the title of artist means: one who perceives more than his fellows, and who records more than he has seen.
     — Edward Gordon Craig

Criticism is easy, art is difficult.
     — Destouches [Philippe Nericault]

The more wise and powerful a master, the more directly is his work created, and the simpler it is.
     — Meister Eckhart

One must not always think so much about what one should do, but rather what one should be. Our works do not ennoble us; but we must ennoble our works.
     — Meister Eckhart

Every artist writes his own autobiography.
     —  Havelock Ellis

Nonsense and beauty have close connections.
     — E. M. Forster, The Longest Journey.

When I am working on a problem I never think about beauty. I only think about how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.
     — Buckminster Fuller

Basically, I no longer work for anything but the sensation I have while working.
     — Albert Giacometti

No human masterpiece has ever been created without great labor.
     — Andre Gide

By his restrictions the master proclaims himself.
     — Goethe

One is never satisfied with a portrait of a person that one knows.
     — Goethe

One must be something to be able to do something.
     — Goethe

Create, artist! Do not talk!
     — Goethe

Individuality of expression is the beginning and the end of all art.
     — Goethe

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

There are six essentials in painting. The first is called spirit; the second, rhythm; the third, thought; the fourth, scenery; the fifth, the brush; and the last is the ink.
     — Ching Hao

Resemblance reproduces the formal aspect of objects, but neglects their spirit; truth shows the spirit and substance in like perfection.
     — Ching Hao

Before 1880, the idea that every work of art contains and talks to its own history, and that this conversation is part of its meaning, was taken more or less for granted as the background of aesthetic experience.
     — Robert Hughes

The Arts are man's most useless ... an essential ... activity.
     — Eugene Ionesco

In art economy is always beauty.
     — Henry James

A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.
     — James Joyce

Life isn't a support system for art. It's the other way around.
     — Stephen King

The Devil whispered behind the leaves, "It's pretty, but is it Art? ... the Devil whoops, as he whooped of old: "It's clever, but is it Art?"
     — Rudyard Kipling

It's not art. It is very disrupting when you see it.
     — Paul Labb, on Eric Fischl's sculpture Tumbling Woman (falling from the burning World Trade Center).

Art is the objectification of feeling, and the subjectification of nature.
     — Suzanne Langer

Never trust the artist. Trust the tale. The proper function of a critic is to save the tale from the artist who created it.
     — D. H. Lawrence

Intellectual passion drives out sensuality.
     — Leonardo da Vinci

All art is erotic.
     — Adolf Loos

The modern man who tattoos himself is either a criminal or a degenerate.
     — Adolf Loos

The evolution of culture is synonymous with the removal of ornament from utilitarian objects.
     — Adolf Loos

One cannot create an art that speaks to men when one has nothing to say.
     — Andre Malraux

Nine times out of ten, in the arts as in life, there is actually no truth to be discovered; there is only error to be exposed.
     — Henry Louis Mencken

[T]he cult of anti-life — anti-order, anti-intelligence, anti-design — now dominates the arts.
     — Lewis Mumford (1970)

In this world of inverted values [Dada], evil becomes the supreme good, and the capacity to make moral discriminations and personal choices, to inhibit destructive or murderous impulses, to pursue distant ends for humane purposes, becomes an offense against the rehabilitated God of lawlessness and disorder. An inverted moralism.
     — Lewis Mumford

As in man's earliest departures from his dumb animal forebears, it is into the arts of expression and communication that the most intense human energies have until now always poured: here, and not in manufacture or engineering, was the major realm of invention.
     — Lewis Mumford

We have art to save ourselves from the truth.
     — Friedrich Nietzsche

Art is unthinkable without risk and spiritual self-sacrifice.
     — Boris Pasternak

Effort supposes resistance.
     — Charles Sanders Peirce

I paint objects as I think them, not as I see them.
     — Pablo Picasso

Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth.
     — Pablo Picasso

Thanks to art, instead of seeing a single world, our own, we see it multiply until we have before us as many worlds as there are original artists.
     — Marcel Proust

Works of art are always products of having been in danger, of having gone to the very end in an experience, to where man can go no further.
     — Rainer Maria Rilke

All great art is the work of the whole living creature, body and soul, and chiefly of the soul.
     — John Ruskin

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
     — Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Every time I paint a portrait I lose a friend.
     — John Singer Sargent

All art is but imitation of nature.
     — Lucius Annaeus Seneca

The greatness of art is not to find what is common but what is unique.
     — Isaac Bashevis Singer

The sole substitute for an experience which we have not ourselves lived through is art and literature.
     — Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Talent can't be taught, but it can be awakened.
     — Wallace Stegner

Hurray for the transparent, the clear! Hurray for purity! Hurray for crystal! Hurray and again hurray for the fluid, the graceful, the angular, the sparkling, the flashing, the light — hurray for everlasting architecture!
     — Bruno Taut

Art is a human activity having for its purpose the transmission to others of the highest and best feelings to which men have arisen.
     — Leo Tolstoi

Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.
     — Willard Duncan Vandiver

[A]rt should never try to be popular. The public should try to make itself artistic.
     — Willard Duncan Vandiver

An artist who theorizes about his work is no longer artist but critic.
     — H. G. Wells

[An] unsettling element in modern art is that common symptom of immaturity, the dread of doing what has been done before.
     — Edith Wharton

Art is the imposing of a pattern on experience, and our aesthetic enjoyment is recognition of the pattern.
     — Alfred North Whitehead

In the arts, the desire to find new things to say and new ways of saying them is the source of all life and interest.
     — Norbert Wiener

It is through art, and through art only, that we can realize our perfection; through art and art only that we can shield ourselves from the sordid perils of actual existence.
     — Oscar Wilde.

On the whole, audiences prefer that art be not a mirror held up to life, but a Disneyland of the soul, containing Romanceland, Spyland, Pornoland and all the other escapelands which are so much more agreeable than the complex truth.
     — Geoffrey Wiseman

Don't try to put into words something that cannot be expressed.
     — Ludwig Wittgenstein

Criticism comes easier than craftsmanship.
     — Zeuxis

A work of art is a corner of creation seen through a temperament.
     — Emile Zola

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