Art, like Nature, has her monsters, things of bestial shape and with hideous voices.
—Oscar Wilde (1854–1900) Irish Poet, Playwright
There is nothing more difficult for a truly creative painter than to paint a rose, because before he can do so he has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted.
—Henri Matisse (1869–1954) French Painter, Sculptor, Lithographer
It is art that makes life, makes interest, makes importance and I know of no substitute whatever for the force and beauty of its process.
—Henry James (1843–1916) American-born British Novelist, Writer
The youth of an art is, like the youth of anything else, its most interesting period. When it has come to the knowledge of good and evil it is stronger, but we care less about it.
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.
—Susan Sontag (1933–2004) American Writer, Philosopher
We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand. The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies.
—Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) Spanish Painter, Sculptor, Artist
As for types like my own, obscurely motivated by the conviction that our existence was worthless if we didn’t make a turning point of it, we were assigned to the humanities, to poetry, philosophy, painting—the nursery games of humankind, which had to be left behind when the age of science began. The humanities would be called upon to choose a wallpaper for the crypt, as the end drew near.
—Saul Bellow (1915–2005) Canadian-American Novelist
Art is a reality, not a definition; inasmuch as it approaches a reality, it approaches perfection, and inasmuch as it approaches a mere definition, it is imperfect and untrue.
—Benjamin Haydon (1786–1846) English Painter, Writer
Caricature is rough truth.
—George Meredith (1828–1909) British Novelist, Poet, Critic
A frenzied passion for art is a canker that devours everything else.
—Charles Baudelaire (1821–67) French Poet, Art Critic, Essayist, Translator
The primary distinction of the artist is that he must actively cultivate that state which most men, necessarily, must avoid: the state of being alone.
—James Baldwin (1924–87) American Novelist, Social Critic
What distinguishes modern art from the art of other ages is criticism.
—Octavio Paz (1914–98) Mexican Poet, Diplomat
Art is either plagiarism or revolution.
—Paul Gauguin (1848–1903) French Post-Impressionist Painter
What is Art? It is the response of man’s creative soul to the call of the Real.
—Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941) Bengali Poet, Polymath
As noble Art has survived noble nature, so too she marches ahead of it, fashioning and awakening by her inspiration. Before Truth sends her triumphant light into the depths of the heart, imagination catches its rays, and the peaks of humanity will be glowing when humid night still lingers in the valleys.
—Friedrich Schiller (1759–1805) German Poet, Dramatist
All art is an imitation of nature.
—Seneca the Younger (Lucius Annaeus Seneca) (c.4 BCE–65 CE) Roman Stoic Philosopher, Statesman, Tragedian
One must be a living man and a posthumous artist.
—Jean Cocteau (1889–1963) French Poet, Playwright, Film Director
To say that a work of art is good, but incomprehensible to the majority of men, is the same as saying of some kind of food that it is very good but that most people can’t eat it.
—Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910) Russian Novelist
An artist must be a reactionary. He has to stand out against the tenor of the age and not go flopping along.
—Evelyn Waugh (1903–66) British Novelist, Essayist, Biographer
Art is parasitic on life, just as criticism is parasitic on art.
—Kenneth Tynan (1927–80) English Theatre Critic, Writer
A work of art is above all an adventure of the mind.
—Eugene Ionesco (1909–94) Romanian-born French Dramatist
Pictures deface walls more often than they decorate them.
—Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959) American Architect
What is art but life upon the larger scale, the higher. When, graduating up in a spiral line of still expanding and ascending gyres, it pushes toward the intense significance of all things, hungry for the infinite?
—Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–61) English Poet
Religion and art spring from the same root and are close kin. Economics and art are strangers.
—Willa Cather (1873–1947) American Novelist, Writer
If we are to change our world view, images have to change. The artist now has a very important job to do. He’s not a little peripheral figure entertaining rich people, he’s really needed.
—David Hockney (b.1937) English Painter, Draughtsman
Art is a form of catharsis.
—Dorothy Parker (1893–1967) American Humorist, Journalist
It is not the language of painters but the language of nature which one should listen to the feeling for the things themselves, for reality, is more important than the feeling for pictures.
—Vincent van Gogh (1853–90) Dutch Painter
Not everything has a name. Some things lead us into a realm beyond words.
—Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918–2008) Russian Dissident Novelist
Art is dangerous. It is one of the attractions: when it ceases to be dangerous you don’t want it.
—Duke Ellington (1899–1974) American Jazz Pianist, Composer, Bandleader
Art is the symbol of the two noblest human efforts: to construct and to refrain from destruction.
—Simone Weil (1909–1943) French Philosopher, Political Activist