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Creative quotes and quotations
On Art...


Art is the archetypal creative activity. Although science and engineering are creative in other ways, there are many quotes about art, artists and the softer side of the house. The great and the good tell it as it is: Art requires serious emotional commitment. The cynical have their say too, of course.

See also

artists*, being, being creative, dreaming, enjoyment, passion (and pretty much everything else as well).


Necessity is stronger far than art.’


Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.’

Scott Adams

‘Art not only imitates nature, but also completes its deficiencies.’


‘The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.’


‘Art is born of humiliation.’

W. H. Auden

‘Every great work of art has two faces, one towards its own time and one towards future, towards eternity.’

Daniel Barenboim

‘What is art but a way of seeing?’

Thomas Berger

‘Art has no other object than to set aside the symbols of practical utility, the generalities that are conventionally and socially accepted, everything in fact which masks reality from us, in order to set us face to face with reality itself.’

Henri Bergson

‘The secret of art is love.’

Antoine Bourdelle

‘Art is the only thing that can go on mattering once it has stopped hurting.’

Elizabeth Bowen

‘Art remains the one way possible of speaking truth.’

Robert Browning

‘In life, as in art, the beautiful moves in curves.’

Edward Robert Bullwer-Lytton

‘I don’t need the money, dear. I work for art.’

Maria Callas

‘Without freedom, no art; art lives only on the restraints it imposes on itself, and dies of all others.’

Albert Camus

‘When I judge art, I take my painting and put it next to a God made object like a tree or flower. If it clashes, it is not art.’

Paul Cézanne

‘Great art picks up where nature ends.’

Marc Chagall

‘Art consists of limitation. The most beautiful part of every picture is the frame.’

G. K. Chesterton

‘Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere.’

G. K. Chesterton

‘Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.’

Winston Churchill

‘Art produces ugly things which frequently become beautiful with time. Fashion, on the other hand, produces beautiful things which always becomes ugly with time.’

Jean Cocteau

‘Drawing is the honesty of the art. There is no possibility of cheating. It is either good or bad.’

Salvador Dali

‘Where the spirit does not work with the hand there is no art.’

Leonardo Da Vinci

‘Art is the Queen of all sciences communicating knowledge to all the generations of the world.’

Leonardo Da Vinci

‘Art isn’t something you marry, it’s something you rape.’

Edgar Degas

‘Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.’

Edgar Degas

‘In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it’s the exact opposite.’

Paul Dirac

‘What art was to the ancient world, Science is to the modern; the distinctive faculty. In the minds of men, the useful has succeeded to the beautiful.’

Benjamin Disraeli

‘It’s not what you see that is art. Art is the gap.’

Marcel Duchamp

‘The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.’

Albert Einstein

‘In art the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can inspire.’

Ralph Waldo Emerson

‘Pictures must not be too picturesque.’

Ralph Waldo Emerson

‘Everything in creation has its appointed painter or poet and remains in bondage like the princess in the fairy tale 'til its appropriate liberator comes to set it free.’

Ralph Waldo Emerson

‘I've always thought that art is a lie, an interesting lie. And I'll sort of listen to the "lie" and try to imagine the world which makes that lie true...what that world must be like, and what would have to happen for us to get from this world to that one.’

Brian Eno

‘Art has got nothing to do with taste.’

Max Ernst

‘You can calculate the worth of a man by the number of his enemies, and the importance of a work of art by the harm that is spoken of it.’

Gustav Flaubert

‘Of all lies, art is the least untrue.’

Gustav Flaubert

‘Art for art’s sake? I should think so, and more so than ever at the present time. It is the one orderly product which our middling race has produced. It is the cry of a thousand sentinels, the echo from a thousand labyrinths, it is the lighthouse which cannot be hidden. It is the best evidence we can have of our dignity.’

E. M. Forster

‘Works of art, in my opinion, are the only objects in the material universe to possess internal order, and that is why, though I don’t believe that only art matters, I do believe in art for art’s sake.’

E. M. Forster

‘To make us feel small in the right way is a function of art; men can only make us feel small in the wrong way.’

E. M. Forster

‘Art is significant deformity.’

Roger Fry

‘Art is either plagiarism or revolution.’

Paul Gauguin

‘It is the eye of ignorance that assigns a fixed and unchangeable color to every object; beware of this stumbling block.’

Paul Gauguin

‘In art, all who have done something other than their predecessors have merited the epithet of revolutionary; and it is they alone who are masters.’

Paul Gauguin

‘Art is a step from what is obvious and well-known toward what is arcane and concealed.’

Kahlil Gibran

‘Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better.’

André Gide

‘A work of art is an exaggeration.’

André Gide

‘Art attracts us only by what it reveals of our most secret self.’

Jean-Luc Godard

‘In art, the best is good enough.’

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

‘Art is not a thing; it is a way.’

Elbert Hubbard

‘It is art that makes life, makes interest, makes importance, for our consideration and application of these things, and I know of no substitute whatever for the force and beauty of its process.’

Henry James

‘We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda, it is a form of truth.’

John Fitzgerald Kennedy

‘Above all, we are coming to understand that the arts incarnate the creativity of a free people. When the creative impulse cannot flourish, when it cannot freely select its methods and objects, when it is deprived of spontaneity, then society severs the root of art.’

John Fitzgerald Kennedy

‘Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible.’

Paul Klee

‘The work of art is above all a process of creation.’

Paul Klee

‘Art is the objectification of feeling, and the subjectification of nature.’

Susan Langer

‘Nature is a revelation of God; Art a revelation of man.’

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

‘Art is power.’

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

‘Well, art is art, isn’t it? Still, on the other hand, water is water!’

Groucho Marx

‘For art to be reality, the whole sensuous being must be caught up in the experience.’

Margaret Mead

‘The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.’


‘The art of a people is a true mirror of their minds.’

Jawaharlal Nehru

‘Art is the proper task of life.’

Friedrich Nietzsche

‘I long ago came to the conclusion that even if I could put down accurately the thing 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.’

Georgia O’Keeffe

‘I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for.’

Georgia O’Keeffe

‘Art washes away from the soul the dirt of everyday life.’

Pablo Picasso

‘Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.’

Pablo Picasso

‘It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.’

Pablo Picasso

‘We all know that art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.’

Pablo Picasso

‘Painting is silent poetry.’


‘Only through art can we emerge from ourselves and know what another person sees.’

Marcel Proust

‘The perfection of art is to conceal art.’

Marcus Fabius Quintilian

‘Art is really people asking the eternal question, “What is it all about?”’

Gene Roddenberry

‘Art is indeed not the bread but the wine of life.’

Jean Paul Richter

‘Fine art is that in which the hand, the head and the heart of man go together.’

John Ruskin

‘Greater completion marks the progress of art, absolute completion usually its decline.’

John Ruskin

‘What garlic is to salad, insanity is to art.’

Augustus Saint-Gaudens

‘Art is a delayed echo.’

George Santayana

‘All art is but imitation of nature.’

Lucius Seneca

‘Life is short and art is long.’ (ars longa vita brevis)

Lucius Seneca

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

George Bernard Shaw

‘Great art is never produced for its own sake. It is too difficult to be worth the effort.’

George Bernard Shaw

‘There is but one art, to omit.’

Robert Louis Stevenson

‘What is Art? It is the response of man's creative soul to the call of the Real.’

Rabindranath Tagore

‘All science touches on art; all art has its scientific side.’

Armand Trousseau

‘The more I think about it, the more I realize there is nothing more artistic than to love others.’

Vincent van Gogh

Know that the secret of the arts is to correct nature.’


‘Art happens—no hovel is safe from it, no prince may depend upon it, the vastest intelligence cannot bring it about.’

James Whistler

‘Art is the imposing of pattern on experience, and our aesthetic enjoyment is recognition of the pattern.’

Alfred North Whitehead

‘Art never expresses anything but itself.’

Oscar Wilde

‘We can forgive a man for making a useful thing, as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it immensely. All art is useless.’

Oscar Wilde

‘Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.’

Oscar Wilde

‘All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.’

Oscar Wilde

‘The object of art is to make eternal the desperately fleeting moment.’

Tennessee Williams

‘Art for art’s sake is a philosophy of the well-fed.’

Frank Lloyd Wright

‘A work of art is a corner of creation seen through a temperament.’

Émile Zola



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