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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.

Quotes Edit

  • Light is impressionism.
    • Gae Aulenti, On positioning galleries for impressionist and post impressionist paintings at the top of her design for Paris's Musée d'Orsay, Time (8 December 1986)
  • 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.
  • 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)
  • While our art cannot, as we wish it could, save us from wars, privation, envy, greed, old age, or death, it can revitalize us amidst it all.
  • It's true that things are beautiful when they work. Art is function.
  • 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.
  • Artists shouldn't be made famous.
    • Kate Bush, in Profiles in Rock interview (December 1980)
  • 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.
  • 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)
  • Drawing is the honesty of the art. There is no possibility of cheating. It is either good or bad.
  • 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)
  • 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.
  • 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)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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)
  • 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.
  • [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
  • 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)
  • 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.
  • All art is solitary and the studio is a torture area.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Impressionism is the newspaper of the soul.
  • 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.
  • Instinct and study; love and hate;
    Audacity — reverence. These must mate,
    And fuse with Jacob's mystic heart,
    To wrestle with the angel — Art.
  • My job is to make art expensive.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • ...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.
  • 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)
  • 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.
  • Abstract painting is abstract. It confronts you.
  • 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.
  • 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)
  • 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.
  • 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)
  • 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.
  • Bad art is more tragically beautiful than good art, because it documents human failure.
    • Henry Letham, Stay
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Art happens all the time, everywhere. All we have to do is to keep our minds open.
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical QuotationsEdit

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 43-45.
  • It is the glory and good of Art,
    That Art remains the one way possible
    Of speaking truth, to mouths like mine at least.
  • 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
  • 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
  • There is an art of reading, as well as an art of thinking, and an art of writing.
  • All passes, Art alone
    Enduring stays to us;
    The Bust out-lasts the throne,—
    The coin, Tiberius.
  • The conscious utterance of thought, by speech or action, to any end, is art.
  • L'Art supreme
    Seule a l'eternité
    Et le buste
    Survit la cité.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The canvas glow'd beyond ev'n nature warm;
    The pregnant quarry teem'd with human form.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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
  • Piety in art—poetry in art—Puseyism in art—let us be careful how we confound them.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • For Art is Nature made by Man
    To Man the interpreter of God.
  • 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
  • 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
  • The perfection of art is to conceal art.
  • Die Kunst ist zwar nicht das Brod, aber der Wein des Lebens.
  • 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
  • Seraphs share with thee
    Knowledge; But Art, O Man, is thine alone!
  • 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
  • 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
  • Schwer ist die Kunst, vergänglich ist ihr Preis.
    • Art is difficult, transient is her reward.
    • Friedrich Schiller, Wallenstein, Prolog, line 40
  • 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, De Brevitate Vitæ, I
  • It was Homer who gave laws to the artist.
  • Around the mighty master came
    The marvels which his pencil wrought,
    Those miracles of power whose fame
    Is wide as human thought.

See alsoEdit

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