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Art

  • Our present-day artists do not transform, they deform. That gives pleasure to nobody. It changes everything, therefore it changes nothing.

    • Adrienne Monnier,
    • 1939, in Richard McDougall, tr., The Very Rich Hours of Adrienne Monnier ()
  • Abstract art: a construction site for high fashion, for advertising, for furniture.

    • Adrienne Monnier,
    • 1939, in Richard McDougall, tr., The Very Rich Hours of Adrienne Monnier ()
  • The only real rival of love is Art, for that in itself is a deep personal passion, its function an act of creation, fed by some mysterious perversion of sex, and demanding all the imagination's activities.

  • If only art were as rare as good taste ...

    • Natalie Clifford Barney,
    • "Scatterings" (1910), in Anna Livia, ed., A Perilous Advantage: The Best of Natalie Clifford Barney ()
  • All expression, all art, is an indiscretion we commit against ourselves. This is not an 'impoverishment' but an increase in wealth, for it is in this way that we make the short hours of our lives live on beyond themselves.

    • Natalie Clifford Barney,
    • "Scatterings" (1910), in Anna Livia, ed., A Perilous Advantage: The Best of Natalie Clifford Barney ()
  • Very few people possess true artistic ability. It is therefore both unseemly and unproductive to irritate the situation by making an effort. If you have a burning, restless urge to write or paint, simply eat something sweet and the feeling will pass.

  • There is, in any art, a tendency to turn one's own preferences into a monomaniac theory ...

  • He [Bernardo Bertolucci] has the kind of talent that breaks one's heart: where can it go, what will happen to it? In this country we encourage 'creativity' among the mediocre, but real bursting creativity appalls us. We put it down as undisciplined, as somehow 'too much.' Well, Before the Revolution is too much and that is what is great about it. Art doesn't come in measured quantities: it's got to be too much or it's not enough.

  • Art can excite, titillate, please, entertain, and sometimes shock; but its ultimate function is to ennoble.

  • If Art does not enlarge men's sympathies, it does nothing morally.

    • George Eliot,
    • 1858, in Gordon S. Haight, ed., The George Eliot Letters, vol. 3 ()
  • Art, like sex, cannot be carried on indefinitely solo; after all, they have the same enemy, sterility.

  • Art and Entertainment are the same thing, in that the more deeply and genuinely entertaining a work is, the better art it is. To imply that Art is something heavy and solemn and dull, and Entertainment is modest but jolly and popular, is neo-Victorian idiocy at its worst.

  • Fear is the deep motive of abstract art — fear of a repellent civilization which is dominated by the power of things. ... who can be surprised if, more sensitive than the others, the artist is terrified by the power things have acquired over us?

  • No form of art repeats or imitates successfully all that can be said by another; the writer conveys his experience of life along a channel of communication closed to painter, mathematician, musician, film-maker.

  • Art is not a study of positive reality, it is the seeking for ideal truth ...

  • Art belongs to all times and to all countries; its special benefit is precisely to be still living when everything else seems dying; that is why Providence shields it from too personal or too general passions, and grants it a patient and persevering organization, durable sensibility, and the contemplative sense in which lies invincible faith.

    • George Sand,
    • 1863, in Raphaël Ledos de Beaufort, ed., Letters of George Sand, vol. 2 ()
  • Art, for the sake of art itself, is an idle sentence. Art, for the sake of truth, for the sake of what is beautiful and good, that is the creed I seek ...

    • George Sand,
    • 1872, in Raphaël Ledos de Beaufort, ed., Letters of George Sand, vol. 3 ()
  • ... when I came to know Greek art I instantly understood that excess and perfection are enemies; yet on the other hand this world and the millions of worlds around us live by fire ... !

  • ... art, if authentic, can reach across all gaps between people and create understanding.

    • Judy Chicago,
    • in Colin Naylor and Genesis P-Orridge, eds., Contemporary Artists ()
  • ... if art speaks clearly about something relevant to people's lives it can change the way they perceive reality.

    • Judy Chicago,
    • in Betsey Beaven et al., The Political Palate ()
  • For the first time in six or seven thousand years, many people of goodwill find themselves confused about art. They want to enjoy it because enjoying art is something they expect of themselves as civilized persons, but they're unsure how to do so. They aren't even sure which of the visible objects are art and which are furniture, clothes, hors d'oeuvres, or construction rubble, and whether a pile of dead and decomposing rats is deliberate art or just another pile of decomposing rats.

  • A part of all art is to make silence speak. The things left out in painting, the note withheld in music, the void in architecture — all are as necessary and as active as the utterance itself.

    • Freya Stark,
    • "On Silence," in The Cornhill Magazine ()
  • Art is not cozy and it is not mocked. Art tells the only truth that ultimately matters. It is the light by which human things can be mended. And after art there is, let me assure you all, nothing.

  • All art deals with the absurd and aims at the simple. Good art speaks truth, indeed is truth, perhaps the only truth.

  • Art is a kind of artificial memory and the pain which attends all serious art is a sense of that factitiousness.

  • All art is a struggle to be, in a particular sort of way, virtuous.

    • Iris Murdoch,
    • in John Haffenden, Novelists in Interview ()
  • Art is the final cunning of the human soul which would rather do anything than face the gods.

  • Art must take reality by surprise.

    • Françoise Sagan,
    • in Blair Fuller and Robert B. Silvers, "Françoise Sagan, "The Art of Fiction No. 15," Paris Review ()
  • Minority art, vernacular art, is marginal art. Only on the margins does growth occur.

  • Art is collective. Always, it has a tradition behind it.

  • Always Art is Art, only by presenting an adequate outward symbol of some fact in the interior life.

  • A great work of Art demands a great thought or a thought of beauty adequately expressed. — Neither in Art nor Literature more than in Life can an ordinary thought be made interesting because well-dressed.

  • Another unsettling element in modern art is that common symptom of immaturity, the dread of doing what has been done before ...

  • In all the arts abundance seems to be one of the surest signs of vocation.

  • To be first-rate at anything you have to stake your all. Nobody's an artist 'on the side.'

  • The painting starts to become its own self. But I must be able to detect this. The painting changes and I have to change with it or else it will fail. I'm leading it and following it at the same time.

  • It is the highest form of culture and craftmanship in art to use local materials. That way you stand a chance of adding to culture. The other way you are in danger of merely imitating it ...

  • She thought of art the way she thought of tennis. It was for the white and the rich. Worse than tennis it was almost all men.

  • I believe in art that conceals art.

  • All art is concerned with the creation of an emotional reaction on the part of the beholder.

  • ... perfectionism is the enemy of art. Since art is essentially divine play, not dogged work, it often happens that as one becomes more professionally driven one also becomes less capriciously playful.

  • Art keeps one young, I think, because it keeps one perpetually a beginner, perpetually a child.

  • Art is always an energy exchange.

  • ... art is not advocacy and advocacy is not art.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Lolita Turns Thirty," What Do Women Want? ()
  • Every age cuts and pastes history to suit its own purposes; art always has an ax to grind.

  • The misunderstanding in art has arisen from the fact that forty years ago — to be exact thirty-nine years ago — when Degas and Monet, Renoir and I first exhibited, the public did not understand, only the 'élite' bought and time has proved their knowledge. Though the Public in those days did not understand, the artists did.

    • Mary Cassatt,
    • 1913, in Nancy Mowll Mathews, ed., Cassatt and Her Circle: Selected Letters ()
  • When I came to live in Paris after having painted in Rome & other places, the sight of the annual exhibitions, quite led me astray. I thought I must be wrong & the painters admired of the public right — It was then I fell in with our band & took quite another direction —

    • Mary Cassatt,
    • 1913, in Nancy Mowll Mathews, ed., Cassatt and Her Circle: Selected Letters ()
  • My Art is just an effort to express the truth of my Being in gesture and movement. It has taken me long years to find even one absolutely true movement.

  • When an object is made by skilled hands, it has a soul that is felt.

  • Art is about human growth. Keeping this growth process alive in ourselves both by making art and by looking at art is a wonderful way to keep us alive to life and to deepen its meaning.

  • Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.

  • ... if you want to create art, you'd best have a deep belief in yourself and no ulterior motives.

  • One clear difference between art and commercial work is that commercial work is exploitive: the work may be high quality but the intention is to sell product or tickets. Art exists with or without ticket sales.

  • There are so few people who can really take hold of art and sort of eat and chew it up. Somehow it's got to be held special, sacred in a corner, and if you don't do the same thing with it, if you're not equally reverential, serious, and pompous about it, well, then you're not a great artist. Who needs that?

    • Twyla Tharp,
    • in Kristen Golden and Barbara Findlen, Remarkable Women of the Twentieth Century ()
  • If art is the bridge between what you see in your mind and what the world sees, then skill is how you build that bridge.

    • Twyla Tharp,
    • in Twyla Tharp with Mark Reiter, The Creative Habit ()
  • Metaphor is the lifeblood of all art.

    • Twyla Tharp,
    • in Twyla Tharp with Mark Reiter, The Creative Habit ()
  • Her secret? It is every artist's secret ... passion. That is all. It is an open secret, and perfectly safe. Like heroism, it is inimitable in cheap materials.

  • ... what was any art but an effort to make a sheath, 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?

  • 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 as much as if it were in type on the page.

    • Willa Cather,
    • "On the Art of Fiction" (1920), On Writing ()
  • Many people seem to think that art is a luxury to be imported and tacked on to life. Art springs out of the very stuff that life is made of. Most of our young authors start to write a story and make a few observations from nature to add local color. The results are invariably false and hollow. Art must spring out of the fullness and richness of life.

    • Willa Cather,
    • interview (1921), in L. Brent Bohlke, ed., Willa Cather in Person ()
  • No nation has ever produced great art that has not made a high art of cookery, because art appeals primarily to the senses.

    • Willa Cather,
    • speech (1921), in L. Brent Bohlke, ed., Willa Cather in Person ()
  • When art finds no temple open, it takes refuge in the workshop.

  • ... out of various forms of personal catastrophe comes art, if you're lucky.

  • For me, art is a more trustworthy expression of God than religion.

  • You take a painting, you have a white, virginal piece of canvas that is the world of purity, and then you put your imagery on it, and you try to bring it back to the original purity.

  • In the first grade, I already knew the pattern of my life. I didn't know the living of it, but I knew the line ... From the first day in school until the day I graduated, everyone gave me one hundred plus in art. Well, where do you go in life? You go to the place where you got one hundred plus.

  • I'm a work horse. I like to work. I always did. I think that there is such a thing as energy, creation overflowing. And I always felt that I have this great energy and it was bound to sort of burst at the seams, so that my work automatically took its place with a mind like mine. I've never had a day when I didn't want to work. I've never had a day like that. And I knew that a day I took away from the work did not make me too happy. I just feel that I'm in tune with the right vibrations in the universe when I'm in the process of working. ... In my studio I'm as happy as a cow in her stall.

  • I believe in my work and the joy of it. You have to be with the work and the work has to be with you. It absorbs you totally and you absorb it totally. Everything must fall by the wayside by comparison.

  • Another thing about creation is that every day it is like it gave birth, and it's always kind of an innocent and refreshing. So it's always virginal to me, and it's always a surprise. ... Each piece seems to have a life of its own. Every little piece or every big piece that I make becomes a very living thing to me, very living. I could make a million pieces; the next piece gives me a whole new thing. It is a new center. Life is total at that particular time. And that's why it's right. That reaffirms my life.

    • Louise Nevelson,
    • 1976, in Dore Ashton, ed., Twentieth-Century Artists on Art ()
  • Art is the indispensable medium for the communication of a moral ideal ...

  • Art is never didactic, does not take kindly to facts, is helpless to grapple with theories, and is killed outright by a sermon.

  • While art may instruct as well as please, it can nevertheless be true art without instructing, but not without pleasing.

  • There can be no good art that is international. Art to be vigorous and gesund must use the material at hand.

    • Stevie Smith,
    • "On Writing," in Hermione Lee, ed., Stevie Smith: A Selection ()
  • A work of art has an author and yet, when it is perfect, it has something which is essentially anonymous about it.

  • The work of art which I do not make, none other will ever make it.

  • Art is the symbol of the two noblest human efforts: to construct ... and to refrain from destruction.

  • Real art has the capacity to make us nervous. By reducing the work of art to its content and then interpreting that, one tames the work of art. Interpretation makes art manageable, conformable.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • title essay (1964), Against Interpretation ()
  • ... interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • title essay (1964), Against Interpretation ()
  • In place of a hermeneutics we need an erotics of art.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • title essay (1964), Against Interpretation ()
  • Transparence is the highest, most liberating value in art — and in criticism — today. Transparence means experiencing the luminousness of the thing in itself, of things being what they are.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • title essay (1964), Against Interpretation ()
  • The moral pleasure in art, as well as the moral service that art performs, consists in the intelligent gratification of consciousness.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • "On Style" (1965), Against Interpretation ()
  • The purpose of art is always, ultimately, to give pleasure — though our sensibilities may take time to catch up with the forms of pleasure that art in a given time may offer.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • "On Style" (1965), Against Interpretation ()
  • The most potent elements in a work of art are, often, its silences.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • "On Style" (1965), Against Interpretation ()
  • A work of art, so far as it is a work of art, cannot — whatever the artist's personal intention — advocate anything at all.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • "On Style" (1965), Against Interpretation ()
  • Unfortunately, moral beauty in art — like physical beauty in a person — is extremely perishable.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • "Camus' Notebooks" (1963), Against Interpretation ()
  • The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • "Notes on 'Camp'" (1964), Against Interpretation ()
  • The basic unit for contemporary art is not the idea, but the analysis of and extension of sensations.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • "One Culture and the New Sensibility" (1965), Against Interpretation ()
  • The history of art is a sequence of successful transgressions.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • "The Aesthetics of Silence," Styles of Radical Will ()
  • ... art is the most general condition of the Past in the present. ... Perhaps no work of art is art. It can only become art, when it is part of the past. In this normative sense, a 'contemporary' work of art would be a contradiction — except so far as we can, in the present, assimilate the present to the past.

  • Much of modern art is devoted to lowering the threshold of what is terrible. By getting us used to what, formerly, we could not bear to see or hear, because it was too shocking, painful, or embarrassing, art changes morals.

  • One task of literature is to formulate questions and construct counterstatements to the reigning pieties. And even when art is not oppositional, the arts gravitate toward contrariness. Literature is dialogue: responsiveness. Literature might be described as the history of human responsiveness to what is alive and what is moribund as cultures evolve and interact with one another.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • "Literature Is Freedom," At the Same Time ()
  • Art is a form of consciousness.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • 1964, in David Rieff, ed., As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh ()
  • The only sense in which everybody could be an artist is if art were understood exclusively as performance — or throw-away art. Art would be something people did, and if it resulted in an object you wouldn't have to (perhaps even be able to) keep it, store it in a museum. Cage, therefore, has a right to say he wants everybody to be an artist. There's very little product-making in his notion of art. There's nothing to keep, monumentalize. It self-destructs.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • 1972, in David Rieff, ed., As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh ()
  • The greatest art comes out of warmth and conviction and deep feeling, but then, very few people, even geniuses, have all that.

  • Art and propaganda have this much connection, that if a propaganda makes art impossible, it is clearly damned.

  • ... art is at least in part a way of collecting information about the universe.

  • Art is not a luxury, but a necessity.

  • Bad art is maintained by the neurotic, who is deadly afraid of authentic art because it inspires him to go on living, and he is terrified of life.

  • I cannot see that art is anything less than a way of making joys perpetual.

  • A work of art may be simple, though that is not necessary. There is no logical reason why the camel of great art should pass through the needle of mob intelligence ...

    • Rebecca West,
    • "Battlefield and Sky," The Strange Necessity ()
  • ... whatever a work of art may be, the artist certainly cannot dare to be simple. He must have a nature as complicated and as violent, as totally unsuggestive of the word innocence, as a modern war.

    • Rebecca West,
    • "Battlefield and Sky," The Strange Necessity ()
  • Most works of art, like most wines, ought to be consumed in the district of their fabrication.

    • Rebecca West,
    • "'Journey's End' Again," Ending in Earnest ()
  • Art is not a plaything, but a necessity, and its essence, form, is not a decorative adjustment, but a cup into which life can be poured and lifted to the lips and be tasted.

  • What is art? It is not decoration. It is the re-living of experience.

  • My scepticism long ago led me to the belief that writers write for themselves and not for their readers and that art has nothing to do with communication between person and person, only with communication between different parts of a person's mind.

  • But art is so much more real than life. Some art is much more real than some life, I mean.

  • ... any authentic work of art must start an argument between the artist and his audience.

  • The delight we find in art amounts to recognition of a saving grace, to an acknowledgment that the problem of life has a solution implicit in its own nature, though not yet formulated by the intellect.

  • ... humanity is never more sphinxlike than when it is expressing itself.

  • Either one fails in one's art or in one's life.

  • Poverty is the great reality. That is why the artist seeks it.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1937, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 2 ()
  • To mistake ugliness for reality is one of the frauds of the realistic school [of writing]. A hunger for the unknown and an aspiration toward beauty were inseparable from civilization. In America the word art was distorted to mean artificial.

  • It is the function of art to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it.

  • I learned very early in my life that music could transform, could transfigure, could transpose a human battle into beauty. When I was 16 and I became a painter's model ... I was learning about color from the painters. Later on, I learned the importance of the image, which I have always used in my writing as coming from the dream, a way of thinking which no modern life has ever been able to eradicate. As a writer I wanted simply to take all the various expressions of art into writing, and I thought each art must nourish the other, each one can add to the other. And I would take into writing what I learned from dancing, what I learned from music, what I learned from design, what I learned from architecture. From every form of art there is something that I wanted to include in writing, and I wanted writing, poetic writing, to include them all. Because I thought always of art not only as a balm, as a consolation, but I thought of art, as I said, as a supreme act of magic which is contained in certain words that I always tell students to write on a large piece of paper and to live with. These were all the words concerned with trans-: transcend, transmute, transform, transpose, transfigure. All the acts of creation were to me contained in these words, and I felt that no matter what we were living through, we had to find our strength, our harmony and a synthesis by which we could live, and make a center to resist outer events and whatever experience shattered us. I always used art to put something together again. That is why I favored the artist, because I learned from him this creating out of nothing.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1973, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 7 ()
  • Asia discovered two remedies for the cruelty of man, art and religion. America discarded both and is drowning in hate and aggressivity.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1966, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 7 ()
  • Everybody's an art critic.

  • It is in general true that in order to create works of art one has to have leisure. On the other hand I think that one needs to experience resistance in a practical sense, and even that which is poignant to bring out what makes easy reading for others. Too much deprivation of course, means death.

    • Marianne Moore,
    • 1922, in Bonnie Costello, ed., The Selected Letters of Marianne Moore ()
  • ... art is the only thing that can go on mattering once it has stopped hurting ...

  • There is the falsely mystical view of art that assumes a kind of supernatural inspiration, a possession by universal forces unrelated to questions of power and privilege or the artist's relation to bread and blood. ... The song is higher than the struggle, and the artist must choose between politics — here defined as earth-bound factionalism, corrupt power struggles — and art, which exists on some transcendent plane.

  • ... there is art and there is official art, there always has been and there always will be.

  • ... art is the pulse of a nation.

  • Deliver me from writers who say the way they live doesn't matter. I'm not sure a bad person can write a good book. If art doesn't make us better, then what on earth is it for?

    • Alice Walker,
    • "Alice Walker: Do You Know This Woman? She Knows You," in Gloria Steinem, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions ()
  • Art has always been aware of itself as art.

  • I remember being so young I thought all artists were famous.

  • You cannot play for safety and make art.

  • ... one reason we haven't any national art is because we have too much magnificence. All our capacity for admiration is used up on the splendor of palace-like railway stations and hotels. Our national tympanum is so deafened by that blare of sumptuousness that we have no ears for the still, small voice of beauty.

  • Publishers, theatrical managers, and critics ask not for the quality inherent in creative art, but will it meet with a good sale, will it suit the palate of the people? Alas, this palate is like a dumping ground; it relishes anything that needs no mental mastication. As a result, the mediocre, the ordinary, the commonplace represents the chief literary output.

    • Emma Goldman,
    • "Minorities Versus Majorities," Anarchism ()
  • ... trade is art, and art's philosophy, / In Paris.

  • I believe that while art is always beyond morality, it is never above it.

    • Jennifer Stone,
    • "R. Crumb: A Portrait of the Artist in the Age of Anxiety," in Berkeley Insider ()
  • The United States has always had an uneasy relationship with its art and artists; as a nation, we regard art as something 'other.' Visual images are not viewed as a necessary part of our existence in the same way that, say, professional sports are.

  • I don't very much enjoy looking at paintings in general. I know too much about them. I take them apart.

    • Georgia O'Keeffe,
    • in Alexander Fried, "An Artist of Her Own School," San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle ()
  • The meaning of a word — to me — is not as exact as the meaning of a color. Colors and shapes make a more definite statement than words.

  • ...even if I could put down accurately the thing that I saw and enjoyed, it would not give the observer the kind of feeling it gave me. I had to create an equivalent for what I felt about what I was looking at — not copy it.

  • I have painted portraits that to me are almost photographic. I remember hesitating to show the paintings, they looked so real to me. But they have passed into the world as abstractions — no one seeing what they are.

  • ... 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.

  • ... I ... found myself saying to myself — I can't live where I want to — I can't go where I want to — I can't do what I want to — I can't even say what I want to. ... I decided I was a very stupid fool not to at least paint as I wanted to and say what I wanted to when I painted as that seemed to be the only thing I could do that didn't concern anybody but myself ...

  • ...to create one's own world in any of the arts takes courage.

  • I see no reason for painting anything that can be put into any other form as well.

  • Nothing is less real than realism — details are confusing. It is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis, that we get at the real meaning of things.

  • I don't know what Art is but I know some things it isn't when I see them.

    • Georgia O'Keeffe,
    • letter to Anita Pollitzer (1917), in Clive Giboire, ed., Lovingly, Georgia ()
  • Art is a wicked thing. It is what we are.

    • Georgia O'Keeffe,
    • in Benita Eisler, O'Keeffe and Stieglitz: An American Romance ()
  • I found things I could say with color and shapes that I couldn't say in any other way ... things I had no words for.

  • A flower touches everyone's heart.

  • I realized that were I to paint flowers small, no one would look at them because I was unknown. So I thought I'll make them big, like the huge buildings going up. People will be startled; they'll have to look at them — and they did.

  • Filling a space in a beautiful way — that is what art means to me.

  • No other creative field is as closed to those who are not white and male as is the visual arts. After I decided to be an artist, the first thing that I had to believe was that I, a black woman, could penetrate the art scene, and that, further, I could do so without sacrificing one iota of my blackness or my femaleness or my humanity.

  • Somehow, some way, every person in the arts has to find an accommodation with disappointment and embarrassment. They are the pollen in the air we breathe. If you must go into the arts, go into them for yourself alone. On some basic level you must enjoy the act of doing it ... Otherwise, you are going to end up frustrated and unhappy. Recognition in the arts is luck and gravy.

    • Joan Rivers,
    • with Richard Merryman, Enter Talking ()
  • ... a work that intends to be art must first be entertaining.

  • The difference between writing a story and simply relating past events is that a story, in order to be acceptable, must have shape and meaning. It is the old idea that art is the bringing of order out of chaos ...

  • One thing living in Japan did for me was to make me feel that what is left out of a work of art is as important as, if not more important than, what is put in.

  • This is what art is all about. It is weaving fabric from the feathers you have plucked from your own breast. But no one must ever see the process — only the finished bolt of goods. They must never suspect that that crimson thread running through the pattern is blood.

  • Restraint is the better part of beauty.

  • The war between the artist and writer and government or orthodoxy is one of the tragedies of humankind. One chief enemy is stupidity and failure to understand anything about the creative mind. For a bureaucratic politician to presume to tell any artist or writer how to get his mind functioning is the ultimate in asininity.

  • It is obvious, that theory alone, can never make a good artist; and it is equally obvious, that practice unaided by theory, can never correct errors, but must establish them.

    • Emma Hart Willard,
    • speech to the Connecticut legislature, A Plan for Inproving Female Education ()
  • ... the time for prizes and competitions at art festivals is over. Competition is too closely tied to values that are alien to the arts.

  • For writers from working-class families, the making of art is cultural disenfranchisement, for we do not belong in literary circles and our writing rarely makes it back home.

    • Valerie Miner,
    • "Writing With Class" (1988), Rumors From the Cauldron ()
  • I hold that art, at its best, is only an expression of the life of the people — in infinite adaption — and that its scope is correspondingly broad and varied. I hate the pedantry of prescriptions. Whoever prescribes limits to this expression, and labels his articles, 'Art for art's sake only,' or 'Beauty is the sole end of art,' or 'No art without a moral purpose,' I hold to be a weak brother, deserving commiseration.

    • Anne Whitney,
    • in Frances Willard, Occupations for Women ()
  • I think it's one of the purposes of art / to hold disaster in artistic control.

  • Art is important because it balances the evil powers. It's a medicine woman. A shaman.

  • Art as communication that says to others / you'd better listen. / Here's a message from the next country.

  • It is a gift / you both have, this patient knowing / that art can open pathways / through the dark.

    • Jane Glazer,
    • "Call the Interval Happiness," Some Trick of Light ()
  • He provided champagne, but it did little to counteract the compelling melancholy of his paintings, each of which showed a more hopeless picture of life than the one before. When we finally tottered out I felt that the logical thing to do next would be to throw ourselves into the Seine ...

  • I went back to being an amateur, in the sense of somebody who loves what she is doing. If a professional loses the love of work, routine sets in, and that's the death of work and of life.

    • Ade Bethune,
    • in Judith Stoughton, Proud Donkey of Schaerbeek ()
  • I did and still do find a serious error in the emphasis of spiritual masters and hagiographers of all faiths on self-denial and austerity as an end in itself, instead of a means. L'art pour l'art. We must do the good because it is good, not because it is difficult.

    • Ade Bethune,
    • in Judith Stoughton, Proud Donkey of Schaerbeek ()
  • Art is our memory of love. The most an artist can do ... is say, let me show you what I have seen, what I have loved, and perhaps you will see it and love it too.

    • Anne Bevan,
    • in Western North Carolina Woman ()
  • You can't make art you can't pay for.

  • Art is the god you have not seen.

    • Mary Butts,
    • 1918, in Nathalie Blondel, ed., The Journals of Mary Butts ()
  • Making reality real is art's responsibility.

  • Integrity can be neither lost nor concealed nor faked nor quenched nor artificially come by nor outlived, nor, I believe, in the long run denied.

    • Eudora Welty,
    • "Must the Novelist Crusade," The Eye of the Story ()
  • ... the attribute of all true art, the highest and the lowest, is this — that it says more than it says, and takes you away from itself. It is a little door that opens into an infinite hall where you may find what you please. Men, thinking to detract, say, 'People read more in this or that work of genius than was ever written in it,' not perceiving that they pay the highest compliment.

  • I believe that one should not think too much about nature when painting, at least not during the painting's conception. The colour sketch should be made exactly as one has perceived things in nature. But personal feeling is the main thing.

  • Up till now the works of antiquity were foreign to me. I could already find them beautiful, and beautiful in themselves: but I could find no link between them and modern art. And now I have found it, and that I believe is progress. I feel there is an inner relationship from the works of the ancients through to the gothic, especially the early antique, and from the gothic to my sense of form. Great simplicity of form, that is something wonderful.

  • My whole week has consisted of nothing but work and inspiration. I work with such passion that it shuts out everything else.

  • In art one is usually totally alone with oneself.

  • If I could really paint! A month ago I was so sure of what I wanted. Inside me I saw it out there, walked around with it like a queen, and was blissful. Now the veils have fallen again, gray veils, hiding the whole idea from me. I stand like a beggar at the door, shivering in the cold, pleading to be let in. It is hard to move patiently, step by step, when one is young and demanding. ... I walk along the boulevards and crowds of people pass by and something inside me cries out, 'I still have such beautiful things before me. None of you, not one, has such things.' And then it cries, 'When will it come. Soon?' And then up speaks art, insisting on two more serious, undivided years of work. Life is serious, and full, and beautiful.

    • Paula Modersohn-Becker,
    • in Günter Busch and Liselotte von Reinken, eds., Paula Modersohn: The Letters and Journals ()
  • The Louvre! The Louvre has me in its clutches. Every time I'm there rich blessings rain down upon me. I am coming to understand Titian more and more and learning to love him. And then there is Botticelli's sweet Madonna, with red roses behind her, standing against a blue-green sky. And Fiesole with his poignant little biblical stories, so simply told, often so glorious in their colors.

    • Paula Modersohn-Becker,
    • in Günter Busch and Liselotte von Reinken, eds., Paula Modersohn: The Letters and Journals ()
  • ... I love color. It must submit to me. And I love art. I kneel before it, and it must become mine. Everything around me glows with passion. Every day reveals a new red flower, glowing, scarlet red. Everyone around me carries them. Some wear them quietly hidden in their hearts. And they are like poppies just opening, of which one can see only here and there a hint of red petal peeking out from the green bud.

    • Paula Modersohn-Becker,
    • in Günter Busch and Liselotte von Reinken, eds., Paula Modersohn: The Letters and Journals ()
  • ... there's no art but has some business to it and no business but some art.

  • Propaganda rarely makes good art.

  • Nothing reveals more about the inner life of a people than their arts ...

  • ... art is emotion without desire.

  • ... shocked to realize how much vitality is required simply to support our primitive requirements, we wonder, bewildered, where Art fits in.

  • ... when you are dealing with art, any kind of art, your pleasure in making it is what matters most.

  • Soul is as necessary in a painting as body.

    • Marie Bashkirtseff,
    • 1881 , in Mary J. Serrano, trans., The Journal of a Young Artist ()
  • ... Art ... is as much a source of happiness for the beginner as for the master. One forgets everything in one's work ...

    • Marie Bashkirtseff,
    • 1877 , in Mary J. Serrano, trans., The Journal of a Young Artist ()
  • ... Art just consists in making us swallow the commonplaces by charming us eternally ...

    • Marie Bashkirtseff,
    • letter to de Maupassant (1884), The Further Memoirs of Marie Bashkirtseff ()
  • ... art consists precisely in making us admire old stories, charming us with them eternally, as Nature charms with her eternal sun, her ancient earth, and her men built all on the same pattern, and all animated by the same feelings ...

    • Marie Bashkirtseff,
    • letter to de Maupassant (1884), in Mary J. Serrano, trans., Letters of Marie Bashkirtseff ()
  • Art being so much greater than ourselves, it will not give up once it has taken hold.

  • I think that one's art is a growth inside one. I do not think one can explain growth. It is silent and subtle. One does not keep digging up a plant to see how it grew.

  • I am always watching for fear of getting feeble and passé in my work. I don't want to trickle out. I want to pour till the pail is empty, the last bit going out in a gush, not in drops.

  • The biggest part of painting perhaps is faith, and waiting receptively, content to go any way, not planning or forcing. The fear, though, is laziness. It is so easy to drift and finally be tossed up on the beach, derelict.

  • ... real art is religion, a search for the beauty of God deep in all things.

  • There is no right and wrong way to paint except honestly or dishonestly. Honestly is trying for the bigger thing. Dishonestly is bluffing and getting through a smattering of surface representation with no meaning ...

  • Sometimes I could quit paint and take to charring. It must be fine to clean perfectly, to shine and polish and know that it could not be done better. In painting that never occurs.

  • A life lived in chaos is an impossibility for the artist. No matter how unstructured may seem the painter's garret in Paris or the poet's pad in Greenwich Village, the artist must have some kind of order or he will proudce a very small body of work. To create a work of art, great or small, is work, hard work, and work requires discipline and order.

  • In art we are once again able to do all the things we have forgotten; we are able to walk on water; we speak to the angels who call us; we move, unfettered, among the stars.

  • Great art always transcends its culture, while lesser art merely reflects it.

  • All real art is, in its true sense, religious; it is a religious impulse; there is no such thing as a non-religious subject. But much bad or downright sacrilegious art depicts so-called religious subjects.

  • The concentration of a small child at play is analogous to the concentration of the artist of any discipline. In real play, which is real concentration, the child is not only outside time, he is outside himself.

  • When we are writing, or painting, or composing, we are, during the time of creativity, freed from normal restrictions, and are opened to a wider world, where colours are brighter, sounds clearer, and people more wondrously complex than we normally realize.

  • I believe that each work of art, whether it is a work of great genius, or something very small, comes to the artist and says, 'Here I am. Enflesh me. Give birth to me.'

  • If it's bad art, it's bad religion, no matter how pious the subject.

  • Art is an affirmation of life, a rebuttal of death. And here we blunder into paradox again, for during the creation of any form of art, art which affirms the value and the holiness of life, the artist must die. To serve a work of art, great or small, is to die, to die to self.

  • To be great, art has to point somewhere.

  • The arts are good and providential in that they allow the soul to imitate the movements of love, and to feel love without its being returned — which, perhaps, is the only way of feeling it permanently.

  • ... we make our art / out of ourselves and what we make makes us.

  • ... the art world has always been an unrelenting taste machine, but now flavors of the month have morphed into flavors of the minute. Again, all a reflection of a wider cultural condition. I mean, the art world is slow compared with the music and movie businesses.

  • Art is an attempt to integrate evil.

  • Learning when 'enough is enough' is the discipline of a lifetime.

  • ... my credo is very short. Its first article is art — and its second is art — and its third is art!

  • Art is like religion. As long as you do your best to stamp it out of existence, it flourishes in spite of you, like weeds in a garden. But if you try and cultivate it, and it becomes a popular success, it goes to the dogs at once.

    • Jane Wardle,
    • in Jane Wardle and Oliver Madox Hueffer, The Artistic Temperament ()
  • Art is sexless; — good work is eternal, no matter whether it is man or woman who has accomplished it. ... Ah, but the world will never own woman's work to be great even if it be so, because men give the verdict, and man's praise is for himself and his own achievements always.

  • ... all truly great art is propaganda ...

    • Ann Petry,
    • in Helen Hull, ed., The Writer's Book ()
  • I learned that making art is work. It was the beginning of a belligerent commitment. For instance, now I go to my studio every day. Some days the work comes easily. Other days nothing happens. Yet on the good days the inspiration is only an accumulation of all the other days, the nonproductive days.

  • I don't believe that you can put content into art. The content is in yourself.

  • A mind truly cultivated never feels that the intellectual process is complete until it can reproduce in some medium the thing which it has absorbed.

  • As long as critics have been around, they have insisted that the artist's life and art are inextricably linked.

  • There are times when I can't work, can't do anything. I can't concentrate, I get scattered, feel I'm dying ... I have thousands of ideas I don't ever get to. I see them all as a huge soup kettle ... Day and night I could work and still wouldn't do it all ...

    • Mary Frank,
    • in Eleanor Munro, Originals: American Women Artists ()
  • Nobody can foresee what will please the critics. Every artistic activity is, and always will be, a poker game.

  • Art, if it is art, will develop in whatever circumstances it is placed.

    • Myrtle Reed,
    • "The Dweller in Bohemia," The White Shield ()
  • No art is sunk in the self, but rather, in art the self becomes self-forgetful in order to meet the demands of the thing seen and the thing being made.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • "The Nature and Aim of Fiction," in Sally and Robert Fitzgerald, ed., Mystery and Manners ()
  • ... art transcends its limitations only by staying within them.

  • Art needn't imitate life but it should never jeopardize it.

  • Art is the great sensitive intelligence. Science tells us what things were, and what they shall be; but art tells us what they are. It transmits the fact and the emotion which is its due. It crystallizes from the chaos of experiences the relations of a moment, the pose of an instant, one clash of motives, one mesh of absurdities, one trick of words, one of the infinite combinations of sound with motion; and that which would have slipped by us unnoticed has been made eternal. Art is that high activity of nature by which it interprets its own emotional reaction upon itself.

  • ... aesthetic laws are no more to be ignored with impunity than are laws of morals and reason ...

  • Art, being as it is a supremely natural activity, feeding continually upon the fullness of life, is one of the first to sicken and die when a man or a society becomes formal or under-vitalized. Conventional encounters do not afford material for either dramas or poetry. A conventional morality may found a good hospital, but it cannot write a good hymn.

  • [On art:] I believe that it not only enriches the spiritual life, but that it makes one more sane and sympathetic, more observant and understanding, regardless of whatever age it springs from, whatever subjects it represents.

  • ... art itself shuns commonality: while the scientist may seek the phenomenon that repeats itself, the artist seeks the exception.

  • Sometimes we forget that if we do not encourage new work now, we will lose all touch with the work of the past we claim to love. If art is not living in a continuous present, it is living in a museum, only those working now can complete the circuit between the past, present and future energies we call art.

  • Journalism encourages haste ... and haste is the enemy of art.

  • Economically, legally, and politically powerless throughout much of western history, women have been linked to nature and the unknowable through metaphors of the body while the masculine has signified culture and mental activity.

    • Whitney Chadwick,
    • "Women Artists and the Politics of Representation," in Arlene Raven, Cassandra Langer, Joanna Frueh, eds., Feminist Art Criticism ()
  • He exhales paint we need / to / breathe.

    • Diana Chang,
    • "What Matisse Is After," in Dexter Fisher, ed., The Third Woman ()
  • ... the wrongs of society can be more deeply impressed on a large class of readers in the form of fiction than by essays, sermons, or the facts of science.

  • Popular art is the dream of society; it does not examine itself.

    • Margaret Atwood,
    • in Earl G. Ingersoll, ed., Margaret Atwood: Conversations ()
  • Art was as much in the activity as in the results. Works of art were not just the finished product, but the thought, the action, the process that created them.

  • A great work is made out of a combination of obedience and liberty.

    • Nadia Boulanger,
    • in Nadia Boulanger and Bruno Monsaingeon, Mademoiselle: Conversations With Nadia Boulanger ()
  • Without a strong cup to carry the emotion, it is only a curiosity. Great art can come to us only in strong cups. Without emotion, there is nothing to carry.

  • Art is not emotion. Art is the medium in which emotion is expressed.

  • ... moralists have no place in an art gallery.

  • ... art happens. It happens when you have the craft and the vocation and are waiting for something else, something extra, or maybe not waiting; in any case it happens. It's the extra rabbit coming out of the hat, the one you didn't put there.

    • Margaret Atwood,
    • "An End to Audience?" Second Words: Selected Critical Prose ()
  • Art is an absolute mistress; she will not be coquetted with or slighted; she requires the most entire self-devotion, and she repays with grand triumphs.

  • I became an animal painter because I loved to move among animals. I would study an animal and draw it in the position it took, and when it changed to another position I would draw that.

    • Rosa Bonheur,
    • in Dore Ashton, Rosa Bonheur: A Life and a Legend ()
  • Art is a tyrant. It demands heart, brain, soul, body. The entireness of the votary. Nothing less will win its highest favor. I wed art. It is my husband, my world, my life dream, the air I breathe. I know nothing else, feel nothing else, think nothing else.

    • Rosa Bonheur,
    • in Dore Ashton, Rosa Bonheur: A Life and a Legend ()
  • All art, in spite of the struggles of some critics to prove otherwise, is based on emotion and projects emotion.

    • Louise Bogan,
    • c. 1960, in Ruth Limmer, ed., Journey Around My Room ()
  • Will folk art save us from creative and moral aridity if we can find and use it? The reiterated insinuation that formal art is fraudulent because it is difficult to understand and makes no effort to appeal to the majority — that it is, in fact, somehow treasonable to mankind's higher purposes and aims — is a typical bourgeois notion that has been around for a long time. That formal art cannot be put to any immediate use also lays it open to materialist denigration. The conviction that the simple is straight and pure and true, while the complex is concocted and double-dealing, is a partially moral one. It is a conviction which shares room, in the minds and emotions of many people, with an unconscious yearning for a lost rural world. ... the fact remains that no civilization has ever produced a literature out of folk (either current or revived) alone. The formal artist cannot be outlawed.

    • Louise Bogan,
    • "Some Notes on Popular and Unpopular Art" (1943), Selected Criticism ()
  • True revolutions in art restore more than they destroy.

    • Louise Bogan,
    • "Reading Contemporary Poetry," in College English ()
  • My dream is to show the fire which comes out of the horses' nostrils; the dust which rises from their hooves. I want this to be an infernal waltz.

    • Rosa Bonheur,
    • in Dore Ashton, Rosa Bonheur: A Life and a Legend ()
  • The point of departure must always be a vision of the truth. The eye is the route of the soul, and the pencil or brush must sincerely and naïvely reproduce what it sees.

    • Rosa Bonheur,
    • in Dore Ashton, Rosa Bonheur: A Life and a Legend ()
  • 'Organic' is a word I'll stick by. It means the work is an extension of your blood and body; it has the rhythm of nature. This is something artists don't talk about much and it's not even well understood: the fact that there exists a state of feeling and that when you reach it, when you hit it, you can't go wrong.

    • Nell Blaine,
    • in Eleanor Munro, Originals: American Women Artists ()
  • To tell the truth, I could work with one flower forever.

  • Great art is cathartic; it is always moral.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • in Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, eds., The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women ()
  • Art does the same things dreams do. We have a hunger for dreams and art fulfills that hunger. So much of real life is a disappointment. That's why we have art.

  • And what is 'art'? — a firestorm rushing through Time, arising from no visible source and conforming to no principles of logic or causality.

  • Art is fueled by rebellion: the need, in some amounting to obsessions, to resist what is, to defy one's elders, even to the point of ostracism; to define oneself, and by extension one's generation, as new, novel, ungovernable.

  • Art originates in play — in improvisation, experiment, and fantasy; it remains forever, in its deepest instincts, playful and spontaneous, an exercise of the imagination analogous to the exercising of the physical body to no purpose other than ecstatic release.

  • ... I believe that any form of art is a species of exploration and transgression. ... Art by its nature is a transgressive act, and artists must accept being punished for it. The more original and unsettling their art, the more devastating the punishment.

  • I believe that art is the highest expression of the human spirit. I believe that we yearn to transcend the merely finite and ephemeral; to participate in something mysterious and communal called 'culture' — and that this yearning is as strong in our species as the yearning to reproduce the species.

  • Ideas are the old-age of art. Artists have to keep young; they must not think too much — thought is death, while art is life. Such was Emile's viewpoint.

  • Emile Saint-Blague had been a lively, versatile painter in his youth, but he had abused his energy by painting too many pictures; so that in what might have been the ripe period of his art he had nothing left but ideas. A man who has nothing left but ideas may be of great service to his friends, but he is of no use at all to himself. Emile was certainly an inspiration to his friends.

  • To approach a city, or even a city neighborhood, as if it were a larger architectural problem, capable of being given order by converting it into a disciplined work of art, is to make the mistake of attempting to substitute art for life. The results of such profound confusion between art and life are neither life nor art. They are taxidermy.

  • Thoughts and emotions which never perhaps were in the mind of the artist, never were anticipated, never were intended by him — may be strongly suggested by his work. This is an important part of the morals of art, which we must never lose sight of. Art is not only for pleasure and profit, but for good and for evil.

  • Nature is boundless in her powers, exhausting in her variety: the powers of Art and its capabilities of variety in production are bounded on every side. Nature herself, the infinite, has circumscribed the bounds of finite Art. The one is the divinity; the other the priestess.

  • The streams which would otherwise diverge to fertilize a thousand meadows, must be directed into one deep narrow channel before they can turn a mill.

  • ... art is a framework, a kind of living trellis, on which public dreaming can shape itself ...

  • ... what society requires from art ... is that it function as an early warning system.

  • Art is selection and symmetry: it creates the illusion of wholeness within its own strictly imposed outlines.

  • Art is a profession, not a shrine.

  • The function of art is to do more than tell it like it is — it's to imagine what is possible.

  • ... there is no politically neutral art.

  • ... in painting I try to make some logic out of the world that has been given to me in chaos. I have a very pretentious idea that I want to make life, I want to make sense out of it. The fact that I am doomed to failure — that doesn't deter me in the least.

    • Grace Hartigan,
    • in Colin Naylor and Genesis P-Orridge, eds., Contemporary Artists ()
  • Art should be Truth; and Truth unadorned, unsentimentalized, is Beauty.

  • The eye is complicated. It mixes the colors [it sees] for you ... The painter must unmix them and lay them on again shade by shade, and then the eye of the beholder takes over and mixes them again.

  • Brushes and paints are all I have / To speak the music of my soul.

  • In every art the desire to practice it precedes both the full ability to do so and the possession of something worthwhile to express by its means.

  • To express the emotions of life is to live. To express the life of emotions is to make art.

    • Jane Heap,
    • in Shari Benstock, Women of the Left Bank: Paris, 1900-1940 ()
  • A really good picture looks as if it's happened at once. It's an immediate image. For my own work, when a picture looks labored and overworked, and you can read in it — well, she did this and then she did that, and then she did that — there is something in it that has not got to do with beautiful art to me. And I usually throw these out, though I think very often it takes ten of those over-labored efforts to produce one really beautiful wrist motion that is synchronized with your head and your heart, and you have it, and therefore it looks as if it were born in a minute.

  • No art can develop until it penetrates deeply into the life of the people.

  • Everything amazes me, and I paint my amazement which is at the same time wonder, terror, laughter. I would exclude none of my amazement. My desire is to make pictures with many different things, with every contradiction, with the unexpected. I would like to become so agile, so sure of my movements, and of my voice, that nothing could escape me, neither the buoyancy of the birds, the weight of the stone, nor the glow of metal. I would like to observe attentively the strings that pull people forward or hold them back. One should go everywhere, dance, play music, sing, fly, plunge into the depths of the sea, watch lovers, enter factories and hospitals, know by heart many poems, the code civil, and the history of nations. But, alas, painting is long, and the days are short.

  • The complex of persons, objects, and relationships called the art world is well known for a number of peculiar characteristics. Perhaps most striking is the emphatic isolation both of the art world as a social entity and of art as an object for study and experience.

    • Lisa Vogel,
    • "Fine Arts and Feminism," in Arlene Raven, Cassandra Langer, Joanna Frueh, eds., Feminist Art Criticism ()
  • A painter's hand has a thirst for thieving, it steals from heaven and makes a gift to the memories of men, it feigns eternity and it delights in this pretence almost as if it had created rules of its own, more durable and more profoundly true.

  • Art is not self-expression while, for me, 'confessional poetry' is almost a contradiction in terms.

  • The arts are the glue of civilization.

  • ... to give life to sculpture I found it must have a pulse, a breathing quality that could change in a flash, and it must never appear static, hard, or unrevealing. All these demands formed themslves in my thoughts, and became like an endless obsession.

  • Art is a command.

  • Sculpture is a parable in three dimensions, a symbol of a spiritual experience, and a means of conveying truth by concentrating its essence into visible form. ... It must be the reflection of the artist who creates it and of the era in which he lives, not an echo or a memory of other days and other ways.

  • If one of God's children finds he cannot see or feel life in other terms than those of form, if he tries to escape and live outside of this obsession and fails, he generally calls himself a sculptor.

  • Sculpture may be almost anything: a monument, a statue, an old coin, a bas-relief, a portrait bust, a lifelong struggle against heavy odds.

  • We make art out of our loss.

  • I think art should be controversial. I think it should make people think.

    • Madonna,
    • in Paul Zollo, Songwriters on Songwriting ()
  • Art is an artificial organization of experience ...

    • Sara Maitland,
    • in Zoë Fairbairns et al., Tales I Tell My Mother ()
  • Art forms render ideas accessible to readers who could not receive those insights in any other format.

    • Sara Maitland,
    • in Zoë Fairbairns et al., Tales I Tell My Mother ()
  • All art requires courage.

  • I thought that to have a painting in a museum exhibit would be the ultimate. Then it happened and it wasn't the ultimate. The next day I was back in my studio still trying to figure out what I was doing.

  • Art is the signature of civilizations.

  • Art, for me, has always been a ticket for experience.

  • Life often does imitate art, which is why art is such a heavy responsibility.

  • Count art by gold, and it fetters the feet it once winged.

  • Belief of some sort is the lifeblood of Art.

  • Art destroys silence.

  • ... for what is the gift of the poet and the artist except to see the sights which others cannot see and to hear the sounds that others cannot hear?

    • Ouida,
    • "The Nürnberg Stove," A Dog of Flanders, the Nürnberg Stove, and Other Stories ()
  • The most demanding part of living a lifetime as an artist is the strict discipline of forcing oneself to work steadfastly along the nerve of one's own most intimate sensitivity.

  • It is ultimately character that underwrites art.

  • There is an appalling amount of mechanical work in the artist's life ... Talent is mysterious, but the qualities that guard, foster, and direct it are not unlike those of a good quartermaster.

  • An artist fights to retain the integrity of a work so that it remains a strong, clear vision. Art is and should be the act of an individual willing to say something new, something not quite familiar.

    • Maya Lin,
    • in Kristen Golden and Barbara Findlen, Remarkable Women of the Twentieth Century ()
  • ... if you don't exist in the arts of a culture, you're invisible. The arts are what express the soul of who we are and that expresses our humanity.

  • All great art comes from a sense of outrage.

  • Great Caesar, Wanda, eliminate. Eliminate detail and use the spaces produced to carry out design.

  • Art is a protest against death.

  • Good art shows us what we see; great art makes the invisible visible, illuminating what we otherwise fail to notice.

  • ... art in America has always been regarded as a luxury ...

  • Great artists are people who find the way to be themselves in their art. Any sort of pretension induces mediocrity in art and life alike.

  • I can never define what art really is ... it's a queer giving something to nature that is possible for nature to have, but always has not — at least that's my idea.

    • Kate Greenaway,
    • in Marion Harry Spielmann and George Somes Layard, Kate Greenaway ()
  • ... timeliness is an enemy to art.

  • Surely even the most self-confident and assured of artists must have moments of battling with self-doubt and so, in a way, every finished work of art is the triumph of one part of its creator's nature over another, and thus record of a Pyrrhic victory, gained and lost on the terribly personal battleground of one's own brainpan.

  • The artist's struggle to transcend his pain can become the seed for many others' hope, transforming a personal journey into a vision for us all.

  • Art is not national. It is international. Music is not written in red, white and blue; it is written with the heart's blood of the composer ...

  • Buying and selling does take the poetry out of things.

  • Writing is both the excursion into and the excursion out of one's life. That is the queasy paradox of the artistic life. It is the thing that, like love, removes one both painfully and deliciously from the ordinary shape of existence. It joins another queasy paradox: that life is both an amazing, hilarious, blessed gift and that it is also intolerable.

    • Lorrie Moore,
    • in Clare Boylan, ed., The Agony and the Ego ()
  • All art is the tension, expressed between the uncontainable and its one perfect inevitable form.

  • As an advantaged member of a disadvantaged group, I've lived my life on the rim — a dialectically privileged location that's helped keep my political awareness acute. But the main reason my art is 'political' is probably that anger is my most productive emotion.

    • Lorraine O'Grady,
    • in Arlene Raven, Cassandra Langer, Joanna Frueh, eds., Feminist Art Criticism ()
  • ... I have never expected anything from my work but the satisfaction I could get from it by the very fact of painting and saying what I couldn't say otherwise.

    • Frida Kahlo,
    • 1939, in Martha Zamora, ed., The Letters of Frida Kahlo: Cartas Apasionadas ()
  • I paint my own reality.

  • Surrealism is the magical surprise of finding a lion in a wardrobe, where you were 'sure' of finding shirts.

  • I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.

    • Frida Kahlo,
    • in Deborah G. Felder, The 100 Most Influential Women of All Time ()
  • They thought I was Surrealist, but I wasn't. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.

  • Many artists have said that when life itself becomes fully conscious, art as we know it will vanish. Art is only a stopgap, an imperfect effort to wrest meaning from an environment where nearly everyone is sleepwalking.

  • ... grievance does not make for great art.

  • Paintings, like dreams, have a life of their own and I have always painted very much the way I dream.

    • Leonor Fini,
    • in Nina Winter, Interview With the Muse ()
  • The only true art is art that raises questions and implicates people.

  • Art transcends war. Art is the language of God and war is the barking of men. Beethoven is bigger than war.

  • Any work of art ... is great when it makes you feel that its creator has dipped into your very heart for his sensation.

  • The wonderful thing about paintings is that they cannot lie. You can always feel with what kind of energy it has been painted. You can feel the conviction of the painter or her lack of it.

  • I paint the way some people write their autobiography. The paintings, finished or not, are the pages of my journal, and as such they are valid.

  • ... art is not for the cultivated taste. It is to cultivate a taste.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • in Nikki Giovanni and Margaret Walker, A Poetic Equation ()
  • The point in all cases is that the deities must be made to laugh.

    • Ree Morton,
    • journal (1975), in The New Yorker ()
  • ... all art is one art. In the man or woman, thoroughly in love with his or her chosen art, there must be struck a sympathetic chord for the sister branches.

  • Great art is not a matter of presenting one side or another, but presenting a picture so full of the contradictions, tragedies, [and] insights of the period that the impact is at once disturbing and satisfying.

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

  • How hard, how desperately hard, is the way of the experimenter in art!

    • Amy Lowell,
    • "A Memoir," in Louis Untermeyer, ed., The Complete Poetical Works of Amy Lowell ()
  • ... didacticism is the death of art ...

    • Alice Dunbar-Nelson,
    • 1926, in Gloria T. Hull, ed., The Works of Alice Dunbar-Nelson, vol. 2 ()
  • Anyone who presumes to teach art has no understanding of it.

    • Eleanora Duse,
    • in Eva Le Gallienne, The Mystic in the Theater: Eleanora Duse ()
  • Precepts, conventions — above all traditions — have no value in art.

    • Eleanora Duse,
    • in Eva Le Gallienne, The Mystic in the Theater: Eleanora Duse ()
  • But art is eternal, for it reveals the inner landscape, which is the soul of man.

  • Art is both a vengeance against reality and a reconciliation with it.

  • There are no holidays for art; and that's just fine with the artist.

  • We should not have a tin cup out for something as important as the arts in the country, the richest in the world. Creative artists are always begging, but always being used when it's time to show us at our best.

  • Art is the only thing you cannot punch a button for. You must do it the old-fashioned way. Stay up and really burn the midnight oil. There are no compromises.

  • Art is how a culture records its life, how it poses questions for the next generation and how it will be remembered.

  • I had discoverd the miraculous possibility that art holds out to us: to be a part of the world and to be removed from the world at the same time.

  • Art isn't something you do or are. It's where you aim, the target you shoot at.

  • I believe in the magical properties and healing powers inherent in artmaking.

  • The air was stale as a bad joke. It made you long to spend the day in an airconditioned movie, fuck the feature, and all night in an airconditioned bedroom, fuck whose.

  • Certainly we have bad paintings. We have only the 'greatest' bad paintings.

  • Art is magic, not logic. This craze for the logical spirit in irrational shape is part of the present harmful mania for uniformity ...

  • ... the arts are life accelerated and concentrated.

  • All great art contains an element of the irrational.

    • Edith Sitwell,
    • 1929, in Elizabeth Salter and Allanah Harper, eds., Edith Sitwell: Fire of the Mind ()
  • In art the past particular transmutes itself into the present universal.

    • Blanche H. Dow,
    • "Roads and Vistas," in Jean Beaven Abernethy, ed., Meditations for Women ()
  • In my art and life, I really strive to reverse the old adage that what you see is what you get. If I can be Coyote and practice my sneak-up, I can engage the viewers from a distance with one image and lure them in for exposure to another layer, which changes the initial view into quite a different reality. After all, that is what ethnic culture is all about — or even an ongoing relationship. What you see on the surface is never the same again one you begin to plumb the depths.

    • Jaune Quick-to-See Smith,
    • in Wilma Mankiller, Every Day Is a Good Day: Reflections by Contemporary Indigenous Women ()
  • Art is the expression of a man's life, of his mode of being, of his relations with the universe, since it is, in fact, man's inarticulate answer to the universe's unspoken message.

  • Art gives our daily lives significance.

  • ... I get inspiration from things that have nothing to do with painting: caricature, items from newspapers, sights in the street, proverbs, nursery-rhymes, children's games and songs, nightmares, desires, terrors. ... That question [why do you paint?] has been put to me before and my answer was, 'To give terror a face.' But it's more than that. I paint because I can't help it.

  • Anyone who says you can't see a thought simply doesn't know art.

  • ... art is exposure. And until you've developed a degree of maturity to handle that knowledge, you are revealing what other people keep hidden.

    • Shelley Winters,
    • in Lewis Funke and John E. Booth, Actors Talk About Acting ()
  • I pursued art for some years and then I began to see that my former employer had been right, and that I was never going to catch it.

  • It is well known that studying art is best done in almost any country than that in which one happens to be born ...

  • Art's too long and life's too short.

    • Grace Paley,
    • 1986, in Gerhard Bach and Blaine H. Hall, eds., Conversations With Grace Paley ()
  • ... one cannot demand of art that it pay you in any other way than in the satisfaction of the work itself.

  • ... no work of art is ever finished, nothing is ever static, no performance is for keeps.

    • Uta Hagen,
    • in Marlo Thomas and Friends, The Right Words at the Right Time ()
  • No art should be fashionable ...

  • One of the first obligations of art is to make all useful things beautiful.

    • Edith Wharton,
    • with Ogden Codman, Jr., The Decoration of Houses ()
  • And no book, and possibly no painting, when it is finished, is ever exactly like the first dream of it.

  • I think most of the people involved in any art always secretly wonder whether they are really there because they're good or there because they're lucky.

  • All my early memories are of forms and shapes and textures. Moving through and over the West Riding landscape with my father in his car, the hills were sculptures; the roads defined the form. Above all, there was the sensation of moving physically over the contours of fullnessess and concavities, through hollows and over peaks — feeling, touching, seeing, through mind and hand and eye. This sensation has never left me. I, the sculptor, am the landscape. I am the form and the hollow, the thrust and the contour.

  • ... I rarely draw what I see. I draw what I feel in my body.

    • Barbara Hepworth,
    • in Abraham Marie Hammacher, The Sculpture of Barbara Hepworth ()
  • Growing old is partly an inescapable process of accommodation and adjustment.

    • Käthe Kollwitz,
    • 1910, in Hans Kollwitz, ed., The Diaries and Letters of Käthe Kollwitz ()
  • Genius can probably run on ahead and seek out new ways. But the good artists who follow after genius — and I count myself among these — have to restore the lost connection once more. A pure studio art is unfruitful and frail, for anything that does not form living roots — why should it exist at all?

    • Käthe Kollwitz,
    • 1916, in Hans Kollwitz, ed., The Diaries and Letters of Käthe Kollwitz ()
  • ... great art is the expression of a solution of the conflict between the demands of the world without and that within ...

  • The artist's work, it is sometimes said, is to celebrate. But really that is not so; it is to express wonder. And something terrible resides at the heart of wonder. Celebration is social, amenable. Wonder has a chaotic splendor.

  • Art is not meant to be created in stolen moments only.

  • Art is only abstract when you look the other way.

  • When I look back on the years of excessive self-doubt, I wonder how I was able to make my paintings. In part, I managed to paint because I had a desire, as strong as the desire for food and sex, to push through, to make an image that signified.

    • Miriam Shapiro,
    • in Sara Ruddick and Pamela Daniels, eds., Working It Out ()
  • The arts are the rain forests of society. They produce the oxygen of freedom, and they are the early warning system when freedom is in danger.

  • What a never-failing comfort any kind of art is.

  • Art is in the process of redefining our relationships to each other ... The creative minds are bubbling, bubbling, and I know the soup that's coming up next time is going to feed a lot more of us.

  • During the Renaissance, women were not allowed to attend art school. Everyone asks, where are the great women painters of the Renaissance?

  • Art isn't a fringe on life, it is one of life's great vital forces. So it is worth possessing. But to get on such terms we must get very close, take a great deal of trouble, put off natural apathy. Just walking through a gallery glancing at the works of Art won't do it, any more than leaving cards on neighbors will turn them into lifelong friends.

  • Composition limits the size of the subject to that which our eye can take in as a whole and our lungs can breathe in one long breath, for we are finite beings and cannot live up to overpowering strength for more than a fraction of time. Art must, for the main part, keep well within what we can manage on pain of breaking us.

  • ... Science, far from being the enemy of Art, is the only way to hand Art on, to make it a tradition. It is apathy which is really the enemy of Art.

  • I think that the older I get and the more comfortable I get with myself, the more I realize that art is about relinquishing control of your emotions and being vulnerable and innocent.

    • k.d. lang,
    • in Victoria Starr, k.d. lang ()
  • The arts objectify subjective reality, and subjectify outward experience of nature. Art education is the education of feeling, and a society that neglects it gives itself up to formless emotion. Bad art is corruption of feeling.

  • Art is just as comprehensible as science, but in its own terms ...

  • Art is the objectification of feeling, and the subjectification of nature.

  • You're not meant to understand. They're bloody works of art.

  • Life beats down and crushes the soul, and art reminds you that you have one.

  • Good art is art that allows you to enter it from a variety of angles and to emerge with a variety of views.

    • Mary Schmich,
    • in "Long After Credits, 'Titanic' Stays With Viewers," Chicago Tribune ()
  • Painting is a lot harder than pickin' cotton. Cotton's right there for you to pull off the stalk, but to paint, you got to sweat your mind.

    • Clementine Hunter,
    • in Shelby R. Gilley, Painting By Heart: The Life and Art of Clementine Hunter ()
  • Art is the signature of a generation; artists have a way of defining the times.

    • Barbra Streisand,
    • "The Artist As Citizen," speech, Harvard University Institute of Politics ()
  • One thing is sure — none of the arts flourishes on censorship and repression. And by this time it should be evident that the American public is capable of doing its own censoring.

  • In art, 'good enough' is not good enough.

    • Ursula K. Le Guin,
    • "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie," The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction ()
  • Each new drawing was at once an escape and a homecoming. The pen was a lockpick, the paper a castle I could hide within. To draw was trouble and safety, adventure and freedom. Art was a stranger making eyes through the smoke of a foreign dive bar. Art was my dearest friend.

  • Drawing is always a disruptive act. You produce when you're expected to consume.


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  • Art, that great undogmatized church.

  • I paint pictures which do not exist and which I would like to see.

    • Leonor Fini,
    • in Nina Winter, Interview With the Muse ()
  • At the center of everything we call 'the arts,' and children call 'play,' is something which seems somehow alive.

  • Part of the artist's job is to make the commonplace singular, to project a different interpretation onto the conventional.

  • I suggest ... that large-souled and compelling art is generally concerned with the recognition of the common in the strange and the strange in the common ...

    • Martha C. Nussbaum,
    • introduction, in Martha C. Nussbaum, For Love of Country: Debating the Limits of Patriotism ()
  • Art isn't explanation. Art is what an artist does, not what an artist explains.

  • Meaning in art isn't the same as meaning in science. The meaning of the second law of thermodynamics, so long as the words are understood, isn't changed by who reads it, or when, or where. The meaning of Huckleberry Finn is.

  • Writers and artists [are] to be themselves with dignity, not to be always feeling apologetic toward the normal people and trying to explain and adapt themselves.

  • An artist usually has no friends except other artists, and usually they do not like his work.

  • Never, never ask an author what he is going to write next, a painter what subject he is going to depict next. They most prefer talking about their past achievements.

  • ... the first prerogative of an artist in any medium is to make a fool of himself.

  • ... it is the nature of the artist to mind excessively what is said about him. Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.

  • To be successful in the world of art you must, of course, have talent, although very small talents have gone very far in this age. Just as the microphone gave volume to voices that had none, so does the science of press-agentry magnify limited skills into highly saleable properties.

  • Artists never make wars. They are too busy making life out of the matter of their visions.

  • Artists are people who are not at all interested in the facts — only in the truth.

  • Any artist must expect to work amid the total, rational indifference of everybody else to their work, for years, perhaps for life ...

  • No form of art repeats or imitates successfully all that can be said by another; the writer conveys his experience of life along a channel of communication closed to painter, mathematician, musician, film-maker.

  • If some people are right, artists are put into this world not to practice their art, but to talk about it. And judging by the flattering invitations many a humble climber will receive to pontificate from the lowest rung but one of the ladder, humanity is in a dangerously receptive frame of mind, and artists a race devoid of either modesty or sense of humor.

  • To be an artist includes much; one must possess many gifts — absolute gifts — which have been acquired by one's own effort. And moreover, to succeed, the artist must possess the courageous soul ... the brave soul. The soul that dares and defies.

  • ... artists are exposed to great temptations: their eyes see paradise before their souls have reached it, and that is a great danger.

  • Her religion was that of all artists — obedience to the laws of her creative art.

  • The artist's business is to take sorrow when it comes. The depth and capacity of his reception is the measure of his art; and when he turns his back on his own suffering, he denies the very laws of his being and closes the door on everything that can ever make him great.

  • The most potent and sacred command which can be laid upon any artist is the command: wait.

  • All artists dream of a silence which they must enter, as some creatures return to the sea to spawn.

  • Real artists, it seems to me, are those who don't repeat themselves.

  • Artists are always young.

    • Margaret Fuller,
    • 1842, in Robert N. Hudspeth, ed., The Letters of Margaret Fuller, vol. 3 ()
  • The artist's knowledge of his own creative nature is often unconscious; he pursues his mysterious way of life in a strange innocence.

  • Failure would only be if you had somewhere stopped growing. As far as I can see the whole duty of the artist is to keep on growing ...

    • May Sarton,
    • 1949, in Susan Sherman, ed., May Sarton: Among the Usual Days ()
  • Trouble is said to be good for an artist's soul but almost never is.

  • ... until you learn that an artist cannot afford to scorn any phase of life that is human, you will never do great work.

  • ... the artist's relation to money is always queer because the production of art is not for money; one would do it even if one got paid nothing at all.

  • It is the artists who make the true value of the world, though at times they may have to starve to do it. They are like earthworms, turning up the soil so things can grow, eating dirt so that the rest of us may eat green shoots.

  • [On directing:] We're the storytellers. We're the children under the bed, reading our picture books, and moving our little people around and making them talk.

  • It was at that moment that Degas persuaded me to send no more to the Salon and to exhibit with his friends in the group of Impressionists. I accepted with joy. At last I could work with complete independence without concerning myself with the eventual judgement of a jury. I already knew who were my true masters. I admired Manet, Courbet and Degas. I hated conventional art. I began to live.

    • Mary Cassatt,
    • in Achille Segard, Un Peintre des Enfants et des Mères -- Mary Cassatt ()
  • In reply to your form of Sept. 16th asking for my photograph, I don't possess one, and it would be very disagreeable to me to have my image in a catalogue or in any publication. It is always unpleasant to me to see the photographs of the artists accompany their work, what has the public to do with the personal appearance of the author of picture or statue? Why should such curiosity if it exists be gratified?

    • Mary Cassatt,
    • 1908, in Nancy Mowll Mathews, ed., Cassatt and Her Circle: Selected Letters ()
  • ... the communal mental picture of the artist starving in a garret seems to me to have a grain of truth in it. What may be less familiar as an idea is my own notion that the artist creates his own garret and goes on hunger strike. ... The artist starves in his garret because he must have the resistance of the garret and the starvation but these privations can take many forms.

  • Never interrupt an artist in the middle of his work! You are inflicting agony upon him.

  • My greatest fear in working is always the end. Lately I have taken to tricking myself into finishing by leaving a hole in the middle somewhere, then stitching the two pieces together — the Union Pacific approach.

  • Artistic growth is, more than it is anything else, a refining of the sense of truthfulness. The stupid believe that to be truthful is easy; only the artist, the great artist, knows how difficult it is.

  • A child's attitude toward everything is an artist's attitude.

  • An artist's saddest secrets are those that have to do with his artistry.

    • Willa Cather,
    • "The Diamond Mine," Youth and the Bright Medusa ()
  • To note an artist's limitations is but to define his genius. A reporter can write equally well about everything that is presented to his view, but a creative writer can do his best only with what lies within the range and character of his talent.

    • Willa Cather,
    • preface, The Best Short Stories of Sarah Orne Jewett ()
  • Never strive, O artist, to create what you are not irresistibly impelled to create!

  • ... out of various forms of personal catastrophe comes art, if you're lucky.

  • Early in school, they called me 'the artist.' When teachers wanted things painted, they called upon me, they called upon 'the artist.' I am not saying that I learned my name, animals can learn their names, I am saying that they learned it.

  • Another thing about creation is that every day it is like it gave birth, and it's always kind of an innocent and refreshing. So it's always virginal to me, and it's always a surprise. ... Each piece seems to have a life of its own. Every little piece or every big piece that I make becomes a very living thing to me, very living. I could make a million pieces; the next piece gives me a whole new thing. It is a new center. Life is total at that particular time. And that's why it's right. That reaffirms my life.

    • Louise Nevelson,
    • 1976, in Dore Ashton, ed., Twentieth-Century Artists on Art ()
  • Some of us come on earth seeing. Some of us come on earth seeing color.

    • Louise Nevelson,
    • in Laurie Lisle, Louise Nevelson: A Passionate Life ()
  • [John Craske] painted like a man giving witness under oath to a wild story.

  • The wretched Artist himself is alternatively the lowest worm that ever crawled when no fire is in him: or the loftiest God that ever sang when the fire is going.

  • There is nothing harder for an Artist than to retain his Artistic integrity in the tomb of success. A tomb, nevertheless, which nearly every Artist: whether he admits it or not; naturally wants to get into.

  • ... a great artist ... takes what he did not make and makes of it something that only he can make ...

  • In the arts, you simply cannot secure your bread and your freedom of action too. You cannot be a hostile critic of society and expect society to feed you regularly.

  • Human life itself may be almost pure chaos, but the work of the artist — the only thing he's good for — is to take these handfuls of confusion and disparate things, things that seem to be irreconcilable, and put them together in a frame to give them some kind of shape and meaning. Even if it's only his view of a meaning. That's what he's for — to give his view of life.

  • Art is a vocation, as much as anything in this world. For the real artist, it is the most natural thing in the world, not as necessary as air and water, perhaps, but as food and water. ... to follow it you very often have to give up something.

  • ... nobody respects the work of an artist; people resent very much his needing any time to do his work. There is not much money in it, at first any way, and the idea that it should be treated as a profession at least, with a place to work and hours during which one shouldn't be disturbed, is very upsetting to the kind of people who would never dream of disturbing a life insurance salesman while he was getting up his accounts ... Again, I think there is a great deal of resentment based on the fact that a man working in the arts, is supposed to be enjoying himself — he is one of the few persons in the world doing something he really likes and wants to do, so the notion that he should be paid for this use of his time is outrageous, to say the least. It is almost plain thievery for a man to take money for enjoying himself ...

  • ... an artist is always seeking revelation.

  • America hates the artist. It will not admit: the artist is my soul and I want to kill off my soul.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1955, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 5 ()
  • ... perhaps the only magician we have is the artist.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1973, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 7 ()
  • Life, religion and art all converge in Bali. They have no word in their language for 'artist' or 'art.' Everyone is an artist.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1974, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 7 ()
  • It is in general true that in order to create works of art one has to have leisure. On the other hand I think that one needs to experience resistance in a practical sense, and even that which is poignant to bring out what makes easy reading for others. Too much deprivation of course, means death.

    • Marianne Moore,
    • 1922, in Bonnie Costello, ed., The Selected Letters of Marianne Moore ()
  • After a little while I murmured to Picasso that I liked his portrait of Gertrude Stein. Yes, he said, everybody said that she does not look like it but that does not make any difference, she will, he said.

  • One of the pleasantest things those of us who write or paint do is to have the daily miracle. It does come.

  • The artist is the voice of the people, but she is also The People.

    • Alice Walker,
    • "The Unglamorous But Worthwhile Duties of the Black Revolutionary Artist, or of the Black Writer Who Simply Works and Writes" (1971), In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens ()
  • A great artist is never poor.

  • We are often like rivers: careless and forceful, timid and dangerous, lucid and muddied, eddying, gleaming, still. Lovers, farmers, and artists have one thing in common, at least — a fear of 'dry spells,' dormant periods in which we do no blooming, internal droughts only the waters of imagination and psychic release can civilize.

  • Temperament is something that is an integral part of the artist. Not temper, temperament. There is a vast difference.

  • ... nobody becomes an artist unless they have to.

  • I hate flowers — I paint them because they're cheaper than models and they don't move.

  • I don't very much enjoy looking at paintings in general. I know too much about them. I take them apart.

    • Georgia O'Keeffe,
    • in Alexander Fried, "An Artist of Her Own School," San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle ()
  • Where I was born and where and how I have lived is unimportant. It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest.

  • ...even if I could put down accurately the thing that I saw and enjoyed, it would not give the observer the kind of feeling it gave me. I had to create an equivalent for what I felt about what I was looking at — not copy it.

  • ... 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.

  • God told me if I painted that mountain enough, I could have it.

  • ...I believe an artist is the last person in the world who can afford to be affected.

    • Georgia O'Keeffe,
    • letter to Anita Pollitzer (1915), in Clive Giboire, ed., Lovingly, Georgia ()
  • I found things I could say with color and shapes that I couldn't say in any other way ... things I had no words for.

  • I realized that were I to paint flowers small, no one would look at them because I was unknown. So I thought I'll make them big, like the huge buildings going up. People will be startled; they'll have to look at them — and they did.

  • Since I cannot sing, I paint.

  • If there is any reason to single out artists as being more necessary to our lives than any others, it is because they provide us with light that cannot be extinguished. They go into dark rooms and poke at their souls until the contours of our own are familiar to us.

  • No other creative field is as closed to those who are not white and male as is the visual arts. After I decided to be an artist, the first thing that I had to believe was that I, a black woman, could penetrate the art scene, and that, further, I could do so without sacrificing one iota of my blackness or my femaleness or my humanity.

  • I know now that everybody in the arts is forever a beginner. Experience counts for a great deal and very little. Every night onstage I feel I am starting from scratch, still not quite sure what I am doing and where I am going, thrown by the simplest thing that goes wrong.

    • Joan Rivers,
    • with Richard Merryman, Enter Talking ()
  • Children, like animals, use all their senses to discover the world. Then artists come along and discover it the same way ... Or now and then we'll hear from an artist who's never lost it.

  • ... the artist must / create himself or be born again.

  • I have a strange need to paint; if I don't paint I cry and get bad headaches.

    • Judy Levy,
    • in Eric Maisel, Fearless Creating ()
  • An artist is a person who has succeeded in getting time and space to do what it wants.

  • ... you've got to go into the open market and take punishment — the way, since the beginning of art, every great artist has.

  • A writer's heart, a poet's heart, an artist's heart, a musician's heart is always breaking. It is through that broken window that we see the world; more mysterious, beloved, insane, and precious for the sparkling and jagged edges of the smaller enclosure we have escaped.

  • Another real thing! I am not dead yet! I can still call forth a piece of soul and set it down in colour, fixed forever ...

  • Through poverty, godhunger, the family debacle, I kept a sense of worth. I could limn and paint like no-one else in this human-wounded land: I was worth the while of living. Now my skill is dead. I should be.

  • There are two kinds of artists left: those who endorse Pepsi and those who simply won't.

  • Unlearning is the choice, conscious or unconscious, of any real artist. And it is the true sign of maturity.

    • Madeleine L'Engle,
    • lecture (1976), in Carole F. Chase, ed., Madeleine L'Engle Herself: Reflections on a Writing Life ()
  • ... artists ... all have a need that cannot be met by another human being.

  • We do not know and cannot tell when the spirit is with us. Great talent or small, it makes no difference. We are caught within our own skins, our own sensibilities; we never know if our technique has been adequate to the vision.

  • ... the artist is not separate from the work and therefore cannot judge it.

  • The artist deals with what cannot be said in words ... The novelist says in words what cannot be said in words.

  • In order to be an artist, one must be deeply rooted in the society.

  • ... for ninety-one years, he did something remarkable. He stayed interested.

  • Do lifelong artists pay a price for having chosen to make art? Of course. Everyone pays the price for his or her choices.

  • In the end, I feel that one has to have a bit of neurosis to go on being an artist. A balanced human seldom produces art. It's that imbalance which impels us. I often think that all I want to do now is to avoid suicide, accidental or otherwise. Other than that, I think living on the edge is what drives my work and me beyond a certain point. The artist lives with anxiety. When you finally reach a plateau of achievement, there comes a new anxiety — the hunger to push on still further. That angst is what makes you go forward.

    • Beverly Pepper,
    • in Eleanor Munro, Originals: American Women Artists ()
  • ... everything happens to an artist; time is always redeemed, nothing is lost and wonders never cease.

  • The artist in all societies has traditionally been a kind of barometer, more sensitive to nuances and changes than others, because he is more deeply immersed in his culture and more interested in its meanings.

  • The important thing is to keep producing. All artists have that quality. You have to be tenacious.

    • Mary Frank,
    • in Eleanor Munro, Originals: American Women Artists ()
  • ... every artist is both male and female, and ... sometimes, the two great elements are in conjunction with him, so that all by himself he suddenly gets the melody and the burst of feeling of a great symphony without any external stimuli.

  • There's a cultural conviction that any 'artist' must have personal suffering to back up their work, otherwise there's something undeserved and therefore inauthentic about it, perhaps even some sort of cheating.

  • It's all a struggle. I don't know what should be there until it gets there.

  • Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what's next or how. The moment you know how you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.

    • Agnes de Mille,
    • in Carol Easton, No Intermissions: The Life of Agnes de Mille ()
  • ... great artists can be uncertain. Of course they are while strugggling to find solutions. Tolstoi's scripts are almost indecipherable. Emily Dickinson provided four or more alternates for every word; Beethoven wrestled with endings to the point of exhaustion; in our day Jerome Robbins and his lack of decision are a byword in the dance profession. But all of these knew very well what they did not want, and what they did not want was the current coin, the well-worn usage. What they wanted was something newly experienced, and therefore unknown and hard to attain.

  • An artist requires the upkeep of creative solitude. An artist requires the healing of time alone. Without this period of recharging, our artist becomes depleted. Until we experience the freedom of solitude, we cannot connect authentically. We may be enmeshed, but we are not encountered. Art lies in the moment of encounter. We meet our truth and we meet ourselves and we meet our self-expression.

  • Many of us believe that 'real artists' do not experience self-doubt. In truth, artists are people who have learned to live with doubt and do the work anyway.

  • [On Ade Bethune:] Her life itself stands as her major work of art, her great design, lovingly worked out over the years.

  • I believe many of the paintings attributed to 'Unknown Masters' were actually the work of cloistered nuns.

  • ... the independence of the artist is one of the great safeguards of the freedom of the human spirit.

  • At this holiday time I always think of our dear mother. I never saw her again after the day you took the fateful decision to send me to a lunatic asylum! I think of that lovely portrait I did of her in the shade of our beautiful garden. ... I doubt whether that hateful person I often mention to you [Rodin] would have the audacity to attribute it to himself, like my other works — that would be too much, the portrait of my mother!

  • The great conductor is always a despot by temperament and intractable in his ways. ... The artist is obliged to keep his laughter and tears to himself. If they want to emerge, in spite of himself, then he must hide them or unleash them in someone else.

  • Artists often think they are going to die before their time. They seem to possess a heightened sense of the passing of the hours.

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

  • Part of the business of being an artist is abetting talent. The best do that.

  • I hope he will make his name, as you call it. Though I believe many artists make a name without making an income.

  • Dead artists always bring out an older, richer crowd.

  • One must be born an artist in order to do the work of becoming one.

  • A really good picture looks as if it's happened at once. It's an immediate image. For my own work, when a picture looks labored and overworked, and you can read in it — well, she did this and then she did that, and then she did that — there is something in it that has not got to do with beautiful art to me. And I usually throw these out, though I think very often it takes ten of those over-labored efforts to produce one really beautiful wrist motion that is synchronized with your head and your heart, and you have it, and therefore it looks as if it were born in a minute.

  • Artists are the traditional interpreters of dreams and nightmares ...

    • Doris Lessing,
    • title essay (1957), in Paul Schlueter, ed., A Small Personal Voice ()
  • I do not suppose that any artist imagines he has attained perfection, and, far from any such presumption on my part, I have never yet been quite satisfied with any work of mine.

  • If nothing will finally survive of life besides what artists report of it, we have no right to report what we know to be lies.

  • Every field of our business now is becoming filled with people who don't have any sense of letting us be artists. It has become a dollar-sign business, and therefore we're finding it hard to do what we primarily came into it for: to be artists. Too many of us are becoming cold-hearted business people, and we're being treated as business people. When an artist no longer does the things that he enjoys, then he's no longer an artist.

  • The only compensation for the artist is the chance to feed hungry hearts.

  • ... artists often lie behind on the field long after the art combine, the broad-bladed harvester of informed criticism, has mowed, bailed, and stored the crop.

  • The most demanding part of living a lifetime as an artist is the strict discipline of forcing oneself to work steadfastly along the nerve of one's own most intimate sensitivity.

  • ... the capacity to work feeds on itself and has its own course of development. This is what artists have going for them.

  • Their [artists'] essential effort is to catapult themselves wholly, without holding back one bit, into a course of action without having any idea where they will end up. They are like riders who gallop into the night, eagerly leaning on their horse's neck, peering into a blinding rain. And they have to do it over and over again.

  • ... you don't need talent to be an artist. 'Artist' is just a frame of mind. Anybody can be an artist, anybody can communicate if they are desperate enough.

    • Yoko Ono,
    • in Jerry Hopkins, Yoko Ono ()
  • The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to, and I paint always whatever passes through my head, without any other consideration.

  • ... we eat up artists like there's going to be a famine at the end / of those three minutes when there are in fact an abundance / of talents just waiting lets put some / of the giants away for a while and deal with them like they have / a life to lead.

  • A primitive artist is an amateur whose work sells.

  • If I didn't start painting, I would have raised chickens.

  • I wonder whether it might not even be possible to generalize and say the successful artist is one who, among other things, finds by luck, labor, instinct, or whatever a form and image to reflect in power (never in literal representation) the original sensory experiences that were received by the [child's] innocent mind. And by contrast, a failed or weak artist would then be one for whom, among other things, the way back is lost or confused or the reflecting image a counterfeit one or mechanically imitative.

  • The artist moves in a circle to reclaim the past.

  • No artist is pleased. ... There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.

  • No artist is ahead of his time. He is his time; it is just that others are behind the times.

    • Martha Graham,
    • in John Heilpern, "The Amazing Martha," The Observer Magazine ()
  • 'Why are there no great women artists?' sounds as ignorant of human geography as the query 'Why are there no Eskimo tennis teams?'

  • The untutored child possesses two qualities which are always preserved in the mature artist: imagination, and the ability to encounter his own feelings.

  • [On John Tunnard:] One day a marvelous man in a highly elaborate tweed coat walked into the gallery. He looked a little like Groucho Marx. He was as animated as a jazz-band leader, which he turned out to be. He showed us his gouaches, which were as musical as Kandinsky's, as delicate as Klee's, and as gay as Miró's.

  • Dwells within the soul of every Artist / More than all his effort can express; / And he knows the best remains unuttered, / Sighing at what we call his success.

  • [On the way she paints with her fingers, not using the intermediary of a brush:] The more you get physically into the paint you lose, you forget yourself. You become the paint, you become the form, you become the structure. It starts to become an outpouring thing, that is why you are doing it.

  • The artist grips his idea and will not let it go until it has blessed him, as the angel blessed Jacob.

    • Cecilia Beaux,
    • in Henry C. Metcalf and L. Urwick, eds., Dynamic Administration: The Collected Papers of Mary Parker Follett ()
  • Through all the world there goes one long cry from the heart of the artist: Give me leave to do my utmost!

    • Isak Dinesen,
    • "Babette's Feast," Anecdotes of Destiny ()
  • Legend adheres to artists whose deaths seem the corollaries of their works.

  • I don't believe artists should be subjected to experiences that harden the sensibilities; without sensibility no fine work can ever be done.

  • What an artist is for is to tell us what we see but do not know that we see.

    • Edith Sitwell,
    • 1929, in Elizabeth Salter and Allanah Harper, eds., Edith Sitwell: Fire of the Mind ()
  • The artist must be an egotist because, like the spider, he draws all his building material from his own breast. But just the same the artist alone among men knows what true humility means. His reach forever exceeds his grasp. He can never be satisfied with his work. He knows when he has done well, but he knows he has never attained his dream. He knows he never can.

  • Being an artist is the only place where I can think clearly and learn what being alive is all about.

    • Judy Pfaff,
    • in Eric Maisel, Fearless Creating ()
  • Scandal is as good as an early death for a great artist.

  • The tricky thing about being a writer, or about being any kind of artist, is that in addition to making art you also have to make a living.

    • Ann Patchett,
    • "Nonfiction, an Introduction," This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage ()
  • To rebel or revolt against the status quo is in the very nature of an artist.

    • Uta Hagen,
    • with Haskel Frankel, Respect for Acting ()
  • The artist has always been and still is a being somewhat apart from the rest of humanity.

  • I think most of the people involved in any art always secretly wonder whether they are really there because they're good or there because they're lucky.

  • Clay. It's rain, dead leaves, dust, all my dead ancestors. Stones that have been ground into sand. Mud. The whole cycle of life and death.

  • My painting is so biographical, if anyone can take the trouble to read it.

    • Lee Krasner,
    • in Eleanor Munro, Originals: American Women Artists ()
  • The key is what is within the artist. The artist can only paint what she or he is about.

    • Lee Krasner,
    • in Eleanor Munro, Originals: American Women Artists ()
  • When you make any kind of artwork, you have to serve it. You could easily call the artist a servant.

  • If you can't fail then how can you possible develop as a communicator or as a creator of anything? We are locked into a deeply unhealthy notion that somehow you've got to succeed all the time. An appalling notion. Any painter or writer will tell you that that is no way to proceed. One of the things that will kill off a decent actor, especially a young actor early on and they will never recover from it, is too much success. It's disastrous. You stop being criticized, therefore you stop challenging yourself. You then can't afford to fail because there's too far to fall.

  • All writers, musicians, artists, choreographers/dancers, etc., work with the stuff of their experiences. It's the translation of it, the conversion of it, the shaping of it that makes for the drama.

  • i'm a struggling artist / not a starving artist / there's a big difference.

  • This seclusion of the artist with his work, sometimes misconceived as a selfish thing, is in truth as needful a tool as any, if a vision is to be made clear to others. And all the men I have known do creative work obtained it; either mechanically, by the walls of a workroom, or by that withdrawal into themselves which is part of their power.

  • ... I certainly fall in love with artists. I think that's probably the aspiration of an artist, to make a listener empathize so deeply that they do fall in love with you.

    • k.d. lang,
    • in Victoria Starr, k.d. lang ()
  • An artist, in giving a concert, should not demand an entrance fee but should ask the public to pay, just before leaving, as much as they like. From the sum he would be able to judge what the world thinks of him — and we would have fewer mediocre concerts.

    • Kit Coleman,
    • in Ted Ferguson, Kit Coleman: Queen of Hearts ()
  • Painting is a lot harder than pickin' cotton. Cotton's right there for you to pull off the stalk, but to paint, you got to sweat your mind.

    • Clementine Hunter,
    • in Shelby R. Gilley, Painting By Heart: The Life and Art of Clementine Hunter ()
  • Good artists are full of anger. They see the conditions of our time, the reality, the truth ...

    • Miné Okubo,
    • in Betty Laduke, "Miné Okubo: An American Experience," in Shirley Geok-lin Lim, Mayumi Tsutakawa, and Margarita Donnelly, eds., The Forbidden Stitch: An Asian American Women's Anthology ()
  • I had great masters. I took the best of them of their teachings, of their examples. I found myself, I made myself, and I said what I had to say.

  • I paint people to learn to know them.

  • An artist has the right to be judged by her best work.

  • ... this mysterious thing, artistic talent: the key to so much freedom, the escape from so much suffering.

  • I paint pictures which do not exist and which I would like to see.

    • Leonor Fini,
    • in Nina Winter, Interview With the Muse ()
  • An artist needs a certain amount of turmoil and confusion.

    • Joni Mitchell,
    • in Joni Mitchell and Malka Marom, Joni Mitchell: Both Sides Now ()
  • The artist prays by creating.

  • In creative fields, I think networking actually hurts you in most cases. Don't waste your time socializing with people who you think can help you. Just get better, and opportunities will naturally present themselves once you deserve them. ... Don't network, just work.