One thing that makes art different from life is that in art things have a shape… it allows us to fix our emotions on events at the moment they occur, it permits a union of heart and mind and tongue and tear.
—Marilyn French (1929–2009) American Feminist Author
I don’t want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.
—Carrie Fisher (1956–2016) American Actress, Author
The notion that the public accepts or rejects anything in modern art is merely romantic fiction. The game is completed and the trophies distributed long before the public knows what has happened.
—Thomas Wolfe (1900–38) American Novelist
Art is parasitic on life, just as criticism is parasitic on art.
—Kenneth Tynan (1927–80) English Theatre Critic, Writer
Art, like Nature, has her monsters, things of bestial shape and with hideous voices.
—Oscar Wilde (1854–1900) Irish Poet, Playwright
Contrary to popular belief an artist is never ahead of his time, but most people are far behind theirs.
—Edgard Varese (1883–1965) French-American Composer
Art teaches nothing, except the significance of life.
—Henry Miller (1891–1980) American Novelist
Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
—Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) Spanish Painter, Sculptor, Artist
A frenzied passion for art is a canker that devours everything else.
—Charles Baudelaire (1821–67) French Poet, Art Critic, Essayist, Translator
The history of modern art is also the history of the progressive loss of art’s audience. Art has increasingly become the concern of the artist and the bafflement of the public.
—Paul Gauguin (1848–1903) French Post-Impressionist Painter
Fine art, that exists for itself alone, is art in a final state of impotence. If nobody, including the artist, acknowledges art as a means of knowing the world, then art is relegated to a kind of rumpus room of the mind and the irresponsibility of the artist and the irrelevance of art to actual living becomes part and parcel of the practice of art.
—Angela Carter (1940–92) English Novelist
The vitality of a new movement in Art must be gauged by the fury it arouses.
—Logan Pearsall Smith (1865–1946) American-British Essayist, Bibliophile
Nature is inside art as its content, not outside as its model.
Art—the one achievement of Man which has made the long trip up from all fours seem well advised.
The perfection of art is to conceal art.
—Quintilian (c.35–c.100 CE) Roman Rhetorician, Literary Critic
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
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
Ads are the cave art of the twentieth century.
—Marshall Mcluhan (1911–80) Canadian Writer, Thinker, Educator
A picture is a poem without words.
—Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus) (65–8 BCE) Roman Poet
Not even the visionary or mystical experience ever lasts very long. It is for art to capture that experience, to offer it to, in the case of literature, its readers; to be, for a secular, materialist culture, some sort of replacement for what the love of god offers in the world of faith.
—Salman Rushdie (b.1947) Indian-born British Novelist
Progressive art can assist people to learn not only about the objective forces at work in the society in which they live, but also about the intensely social character of their interior lives. Ultimately, it can propel people toward social emancipation.
—Angela Davis (b.1944) American Political Activist, Academic
All art is an imitation of nature.
—Seneca the Younger (Lucius Annaeus Seneca) (c.4 BCE–65 CE) Roman Stoic Philosopher, Statesman, Tragedian
If the Revolution has the right to destroy bridges and art monuments whenever necessary, it will stop still less from laying its hand on any tendency in art which, no matter how great its achievement in form, threatens to disintegrate the revolutionary environment or to arouse the internal forces of the Revolution, that is, the proletariat, the peasantry and the intelligentsia, to a hostile opposition to one another. Our standard is, clearly, political, imperative and intolerant.
—Leon Trotsky (1879–1940) Russian Marxist Revolutionary
Modern art is what happens when painters stop looking at girls and persuade themselves that they have a better idea.
—John Ciardi (1916–86) American Poet, Teacher, Etymologist, Translator
Surely all art is the result of one’s having been in danger, of having gone through an experience all the way to the end, where no one can go any further.
—Rainer Maria Rilke (1875–1926) Austrian Poet
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
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
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 distills sensations and embodies it with enhanced meaning.
—Jacques Barzun (b.1907) French-born American Historian, Philosophers
A work of art is above all an adventure of the mind.
—Eugene Ionesco (1909–94) Romanian-born French Dramatist