Art Quotes

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I will astonish Paris with an apple.

— Paul Cezanne

I work on all parts of my painting at once, improving it very gently until I find that the effect is complete.

— Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot

We must never forget that any painting–before being a warhorse, a nude woman, an anecdote, or whatnot–is essentially a flat surface covered with colors arranged in a certain order.

— Maurice Denis

Everything that you can see in the world around you, presents itself to your eyes only as an arrangement of patches of different colours…

— John Ruskin

There is no model; there is only color.

— Paul Cezanne

The principles of true art is not to portray, but to evoke.

— Jerzy Kosinski

If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing.

— Marc Chagall

Color is the place where our brain and the universe meet.

— Paul Klee

I think art parallels life. Color, in my opinion, behaves like a man…in two distinct ways: first is self-realization and then in the realization of the relationship with others. In my paintings I have tried to make two polarities meet––independence and interdependence, as, for instance in Pompeian art. There’s a certain red the Pompeians used that speaks in both these ways, first, in its relation to other colors around it, and then, as it appears alone, keeping its own face. In other words, one must combine both, being an individual and being a member of society….And from all this, you may conclude that I consider ethics and aesthetics as one.

— Josef Albers

The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act.

— Marcel Duchamp

The purpose of art is the gradual, lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity.

— Glenn Gould

Painting on the one hand brings you back to physical reality, the actual space we all inhabit. The thick oil, the bi-dimensionality of the surface constantly brings you back to where you are physically. They are real things in the real world and they are happening in front of you. But at the same time the imagery refers to other things, gives you pictures, triggers the imagination, the memory of something and creates a fantasy…. They deal with physical reality and illusion simultaneously….whereas painting gives you the body as well. Your own body.

— Jonathan Lasker

Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.

— George Bernard Shaw

There is no reason that cathartic works of art cannot be aesthetically pleasing while providing a sense of meaningful energy and visual or metaphysical insight.

— Michael Cook

Of all the arts, abstract painting is the most difficult. It demands that you know how to draw well, that you have a heightened sensitivity for composition and for colours, and that you be a true poet. This last is essential.

— Wassily Kandinsky

LOW, MIDDLE AND HIGH CULTURE High culture: Interest in creative process and symbolism. Preference for experimentation Introspection preferred to action. Accepts different levels of meaning. Expects consideration of philosophical, psychological and social issues. Upper middle culture: A less literary verbal culture. Figurative and narrative art preferred, especially if illustrative of individual achievement or upward mobility. Enjoys nineteenth-century art and opera, but not early music or contemporary art. Lower middle culture: Form must unambiguously express meaning. Demands conclusions. Unresolvable conflicts not made explicit Interested in performers, not writers or directors Influenced by word-of-mouth judgement. Low culture: No concern with abstract ideas: form must be entirely subservient to content. Demands crude morality with dramatic demarcations, but usually limited to family or individual problems. Performer is paramount: enjoys vicarious contact with ‘stars’. Considers ornateness attractive .

— Adapted from Herbert J. Gans (1974) by Stephen Bayley (1991)

Up until 35 I had a slightly skewed world view. I honestly believed everybody in the world wanted to make abstract paintings, and people only became lawyers and doctors and brokers and things because they couldn’t make abstract paintings.

— Frank Stella

In the process of making a painting in an abstract way, the painter is in search of a reality. Not one of realistic objects, but of the complete end result. The painting is experienced as a whole, and must evoke in the painter the absolute conviction that this is how it should be and no other way.

— Paul Burlin

John first glimpsed this pattern on a passing car, recalling: “I only saw it for a second, but knew immediately that I was going to use it. It had all the qualities that interest me—literalness, repetitiveness, an obsessive quality, order with dumbness, and the possibility of a complete lack of meaning.

— Jasper Johns

Something is shifting in my work. I know it, can feel it, but am blind to it somehow, until it manifests itself complete. It is the way it goes. For a few weeks or a few months, sometimes a few years, there will be this blindness that I try very hard to live in, developing other senses, spidey senses, that tell me this, rather than that, more, rather than less. Until it is clear, there will be some dark days and muddy canvases and fists full of air where I grasped too hard. Then one day I will put on new glasses and all the phantom noise will become singing voices and I will make some work with the sense of clarity and purpose, knowing the how and why of each brushstroke and it will be lovely for a little while until painting starts to complicate itself again and we will go dark once more, under the waves. It is a beautiful life.

— Tracey Physioc Brockett

No art is any good unless you can feel how it’s put together. By and large it’s the eye, the hand and if it’s any good, you feel the body. Most of the best stuff seems to be a complete gesture, the totality of the artist’s body; you can really lean on it.

— Frank Stella

As one gets older one sees many more paths that could be taken. Artists sense within their own work that kind of swelling of possibilities, which may seem a confusion, or a freedom.

— Jasper Johns

What’s so hard about that first sentence is that you’re stuck with it. Everything else is going to flow out of that sentence. And by the time you’ve laid down the first two sentences, your options are all gone.

— Joan Didion, Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles & Ted Orland

There isn’t a person, a landscape or an object that doesn’t possess at least some interest — although sometimes more or less hidden. When a painter discovers this hidden treasure, other people immediately exclaim at its beauty.

— Pierre Auguste Renoir

With me, it’s much more a matter of just accepting all these elements from the outside and then trying to work with them in a sort of collaboration.

— Robert Rauschenberg

I use oil paint because it has a disobedient and mysterious nature…it engages issues of alchemy and mystery that resist the deadening ambition of the modern world to control everything.

— Scully

An artist’s job is to surprise himself. Use all means possible.

— Robert Henri

The paintings that really excite me have an erotic element or side to them irrespective of subject matter.

— Lucian Freud

If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing.

— Marc Chagall

I think very often that it takes ten over worked efforts to produce one really beautiful wrist motion that is synchronized with your head and heart, and you have it, and therefore it looks as if it were born in a minute.

— Helen Frankenthaler
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