Art Quotes for

Withdraw into yourself and look. And if you do not find yourself beautiful yet, act as does the creator of a statue that is to be made beautiful: he cuts away here, he smoothes there, he makes this line lighter, this other purer, until a lovely face has grown upon his work. So do you also: cut away all that is excessive, straighten all that is crooked, bring light to all that is overcast, labour to make all one glow of beauty and never cease chiselling your statue, until there shall shine out on you from it the godlike splendour of virtue, until you shall see the perfect goodness surely established in the stainless shrine... Never did eye see the sun unless it had first become sunlike, and never can the soul have vision of the First Beauty unless itself be beautiful.
— Plotinus (204-270 A.D.)
The Enneads, I.6.9 (250 A.D.)

Poetry and painting are rooted in the same law. The work of heaven and of the first cause.
— Su Tung-po (1036-1101)

As I was painting this picture, I became the springtime river. The flowers of the river opened at my hand's whim; the waters of the river flowed with the rhythm of my being. In the lofty pavilion perched above the river, the painting in my hand, I cry out the name of Tzu-mei. Laughter is mixed with my cries. Waves and clouds suddenly arise. Unrolling the painting once again, I plunge into the vision of the divine.
— Shih-t'ao (1641-1717)
Remarks on Painting (1730)

Painting, like poetry, selects in the universe whatever she deems most appropriate to her ends. She assembles in a single fantastic personage, circumstances and features which nature distributes among many individuals. From this combination, ingeniously composed, results that happy imitation by virtue of which the artist earns the title of inventor and not of servile copyist.
— Francisco Goya (1746-1828)
Diario de Madrid (Feb. 6, 1799)

Real beauty in the arts is eternal and would be accepted at all periods; but it wears the dress of its century: something of that dress clings to it, and woe to the works which appear in periods when the general taste is corrupted.
— Delacroix (1798-1863)
Journal (October 12, 1859)

Every work of art causes the receiver to enter into a certain kind of relationship both with him who produced the art, and with all those who, simultaneously, previously, or subsequently, receive the same artistic impression.

Art is a human activity— that one man consciously by means of certain external signs, hands on to others feelings he has lived through, and that others are touched by these feelings and also experience them.
— Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910)
What is Art? Ch. V (1898)

art, artists

The artist does not draw what he sees, but what he must make others see. Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things. A picture is first of all a product of the imagination of the artist; it must never be a copy. If then two or three natural accents can be added, obviously no harm is done. The air we see in the paintings of the old masters is never the air we breathe.
— Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
Les Mots de Degas (1918)

The Louvre is the book in which we learn to read. We must not, however, be satisfied with retaining the beautiful formulas of our illustrious predecessors. Let us go forth to study beautiful nature, let us try to free our mids from them, let us strive to express ourselves according to our personal temperaments. Time and reflection, moreover, little by little modify our vision, and at last comprehension comes to us...
— Paul Cezanne (1839-1906)
letter to Emile Bernard
(Aix, 1905)

An artist worthy of the name should express all the truth of nature, not only the exterior truth, but also, and above all, the inner truth.
— Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
On Art and Artist, Ch. IX

If you want to know how to do a thing you must first have a complete desire to do that thing. Then go to kindred spirits— others who have wanted to do that thing— and study their ways and means, learn from their successes and failures and add your quota. Thus you may acquire from the experience of the race. And with this technical knowledge you may go forward, expressing through the play of forms the music that is in you and which is very personal to you. Every man who has shown the world the way to beauty, to true culture, has been a rebel, a "universal" without patriotism, without home, who has found his people elsewhere.
— Robert Henri (1865-1929)
The Art Spirit (1923)

Every artist, as child of his age, is impelled to express the spirit of his age.
— Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)
Concerning the Spiritual in Art (1914)

I now abandon work. It penetrates so deeply and so gently into me, I feel it and it gives me confidence in myself without effort. Color possesses me. I don't have to pursue it. It will possess me always, I know it. That is the meaning of this happy hour: Color and I are one. I am a painter.
— Paul Klee (1879-1940)
Diaries of Paul Klee: 1898-1918
(Tunisia, April 16, 1914)

The artist is not a special kind of man, but every man is a special kind of artist.
— A. K. Coomaraswamy (1877-1947)
Transformation of Nature in Art (1934)

Every work of art reaches man in his inner powers. It reaches him more profoundly and insidiously than any rational proposition, either cogent demonstration or sophistry. For it strikes him with two terrible weapons, Intuition and Beauty, and at the single root in him of all his energies... Art and Poetry awaken the dreams of man, and his longings, and reveal to him some of the abysses he has in himself.

— Jacques Maritain (1882-1973)
Responsibility of the Artist (1960)

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© Peter Y. Chou,
P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: (2-11-1999)