An aphorism is nothing else but the slightest
form of writing raised to the highest level of expressive communication. Carl William Brown




Art is permitted to survive only if it renounces the right to be different, and integrates itself into the omnipotent realm of the profane.


Theodor W. Adorno (1903-1969, German philosopher, sociologist, music critic)


Twentieth-century art may start with nothing, but it flourishes by virtue of its belief in itself, in the possibility of control over what seems essentially uncontrollable, in the coherence of the inchoate, and in its ability to create its own values.


If you think of the success of the majority of the so called Italian artists, you can easily understand the profound state of decadence and corruption of the stupid nation itself.


Carl William Brown (1960 - ,  Italian writer, aphorist, teacher and trader)


A. Alvarez (1929-, British critic, poet, novelist)


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


Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973, Anglo-Irish novelist)


Art is an experience, not the formulation of a problem.


Lindsay Anderson (1923-, British film director)


Artists are, above all, men who want to become inhuman.


Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918, Italian-born French poet, critic)


Without poets, without artists, men would soon weary of nature's monotony. The sublime idea men have of the universe would collapse with dizzying speed. The order which we find in nature, and which is only an effect of art, would at once vanish. Everything would break up in chaos. There would be no seasons, no civilization, no thought, no humanity; even life would give way, and the impotent void would reign everywhere.


Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918, Italian-born French poet, critic)


Art is a fruit that grows in man, like a fruit on a plant, or a child in its mother's womb.


Jean Arp (1887-1948, French-German artist, poet)


Any artist should be grateful for a naive grace which puts him beyond the need to reason elaborately.


Saul Bellow (1915-, American novelist)


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-, American novelist)


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 (1924-1987, American author)


Pop artists deal with the lowly trivia of possessions and equipment that the present generation is lugging along with it on its safari into the future.


J. G. Ballard (1930-, British author)


The first mistake of Art is to assume that it's serious.


Lester Bangs (1948-1982, American rock journalist)


Every great work of art has two faces, one toward its own time and one toward the future, toward eternity.


Daniel Barenboim (1942-, Argentinean-born Israeli pianist, conductor)


The essence of all art is to have pleasure in giving pleasure


Mikhail Baryshnikov (1948-, Soviet dancer, actor)


Art distills sensations and embodies it with enhanced meaning.


Jacques Barzun (1907-, American scholar)


A frenzied passion for art is a canker that devours everything else.


Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867, French poet)


The more a man cultivates the arts the less he fornicates. A more and more apparent cleavage occurs between the spirit and the brute.


Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867, French poet)


In order for the artist to have a world to express he must first be situated in this world, oppressed or oppressing, resigned or rebellious, a man among men.


Simone De Beauvoir (1908-1986, French novelist, essayist)


Art! Who comprehends her? With whom can one consult concerning this great goddess?


Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827, German composer)


No one should drive a hard bargain with an artist.


Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827, German composer)


I can't tell you what art does and how it does it, but I know that often art has judged the judges, pleaded revenge to the innocent and shown to the future what the past suffered, so that it has never been forgotten. Art, when it functions like this, becomes a meeting-place of the invisible, the irreducible, the enduring, guts, and honor.


John Berger (1926-, British actor, critic)


What is art but a way of seeing?


Thomas Berger


The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge.


Adolf Berle (1937-1971, American politician)


The artist is extremely lucky who is presented with the worst possible ordeal which will not actually kill him. At that point, he's in business.


John Berryman (1914-1972, American poet)


The highest art is always the most religious, and the greatest artist is always a devout person.


Professor Blackie


Art can never exist without naked beauty displayed.


William Blake (1757-1827, British poet, painter)


Art is meant to disturb. Science reassures.


Georges Braque (1882-1963, French painter)


The work of art, just like any fragment of human life considered in its deepest meaning, seems to me devoid of value if it does not offer the hardness, the rigidity, the regularity, the luster on every interior and exterior facet, of the crystal.


Andre Breton (1989-1966, French surrealist)


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 (1806-1861, British poet)


Of all the arts in which the wise excel, nature's chief masterpiece is writing well.


Duke of Buckingham (1628-1687, British poet, satirist, dramatist)


In any society, the artist has a responsibility. His effectiveness is certainly limited and a painter or writer cannot change the world. But they can keep an essential margin of non-conformity alive. Thanks to them the powerful can never affirm that everyone agrees with their acts. That small difference is important.


Luis Bunuel (1900-1983, Spanish film director)


Art is dangerous. It is one of the attractions: when it ceases to be dangerous you don't want it.


Anthony Burgess (1917-1993, British writer, critic)


Artists to my mind are the real architects of change, and not the political legislators who implement change after the fact.


William S. Burroughs (1914-1997, American 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.


Samuel Butler (1612-1680, British poet, satirist)


It is impossible to give a clear account of the world, but art can teach us to reproduce it -- just as the world reproduces itself in the course of its eternal gyrations. The primordial sea indefatigably repeats the same words and casts up the same astonished beings on the same seashore.


Albert Camus (1913-1960, French existential writer)


To write is to become disinterested. There is a certain renunciation in art.


Albert Camus (1913-1960, French existential writer)


Abstract Art: A product of the untalented, sold by the unprincipled to the utterly bewildered.


Al Capp (1909-1979, American cartoonist)


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 (1940-1992, British author)


Art is good when it springs from necessity. This kind of origin is the guarantee of its value; there is no other.


Neal Cassady (1926-1968, American beat hero)


Artistic growth is, more than it is anything else, a refining of the sense of truthfulness. The stupid believe that to be truthful is easy; only the artist, the great artist, knows how difficult it is.


Willa Cather (1876-1947, American author)


Religion and art spring from the same root and are close kin. Economics and art are strangers.


Willa Cather (1876-1947, American author)


With an apple I will astonish Paris.


Paul Cezanne (1839-1906. French painter)


When I am finishing a picture I hold some God-made object up to it -- a rock, a flower, the branch of a tree or my hand -- as a kind of final test. If the painting stands up beside a thing man cannot make, the painting is authentic. If there's a clash between the two, it is bad art.


Marc Chagall (1889-1985, French artist)


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.


Marc Chagall (1889-1985, French artist)


The creative artist seems to be almost the only kind of man that you could never meet on neutral ground. You can only meet him as an artist. He sees nothing objectively because his own ego is always in the foreground of every picture.


Raymond Chandler (1888-1959, American author)


A woman is fascinated not by art but by the noise made by those in the field.


Anton Chekhov (1860-1904, Russian playwright, short story writer)


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


Gilbert K. Chesterton (1874-1936, British author)


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


Gilbert K. Chesterton (1874-1936, British author)


The artistic temperament is a disease that affects amateurs. Artists of a large and wholesome vitality get rid of their art easily, as they breathe easily or perspire easily. But in artists of less force, the thing becomes a pressure, and produces a definite pain, which is called the artistic temperament.


Gilbert K. Chesterton (1874-1936, British author)


The dignity of the artist lies in his duty of keeping awake the sense of wonder in the world. In this long vigil he often has to vary his methods of stimulation; but in this long vigil he is also himself striving against a continual tendency to sleep.


Gilbert K. Chesterton (1874-1936, British author)


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


Winston Churchill (1874-1965, British statesman, Prime Minister)


Modern art is what happens when painters stop looking at girls and persuade themselves they have a better idea.


John Ciardi (1916-1986, American teacher, poet, writer)


Art is science made clear.


Jean Cocteau (1889-1963, French author, filmmaker)


One must be a living man and a posthumous artist.


Jean Cocteau (1889-1963, French author, filmmaker)


Any startling piece of work has a subversive element in it, a delicious element often. Subversion is only disagreeable when it manifests in political or social activity. In what we call art, it's one of the most desirable characteristics of a piece of work.


Leonard Cohen (1934-, Canadian-born American musician, songwriter, singer)


The artist is a member of the leisured classes who cannot pay for his leisure.


Cyril Connolly (1903-1974, British critic)


The reward of art is not fame or success but intoxication: that is why so many bad artists are unable to give it up.


Cyril Connolly (1903-1974, British critic)


An artist is a man of action, whether he creates a personality, invents an expedient, or finds the issue of a complicated situation.


Joseph Conrad (1857-1924, Polish-born British novelist)


Any work that aspires, however humbly, to the condition of art should carry its justification in every line.


Joseph Conrad (1857-1924, Polish-born British novelist)


Art is an absolute mistress; she will not be coquetted with or slighted; she requires the most entire self-devotion, and she repays with grand triumphs.


Charlotte Saunders Cushman (1816-1876, American actor)


Those who write for lucre or fame are grosser than the cartel robbers, for they steal the genius of the people, which is its will to resist evil.


Edward Dahlberg (1900-1977, American author, critic)


It is either easy or impossible.


Salvador Dali (1904-1989, Spanish painter)


There is only one difference between a madman and me. I am not mad.


Salvador Dali (1904-1989, Spanish painter)


This grandiose tragedy that we call modern art.


Salvador Dali (1904-1989, Spanish painter)


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 Y. Davis (1944-, American political activist)


Art need no longer be an account of past sensations. It can become the direct organization of more highly evolved sensations. It is a question of producing ourselves, not things that enslave us.


Guy Debord (1931-, French philosopher)


Artists who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot attain it in anything.


Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863, French artist)


The arts are not just instantaneous pleasure -- if you don't like it, the artist is wrong. I belong to the generation which says if you don't like it, you don't understand and you ought to find out.


John Drummond


Art is the most passionate orgy within man's grasp.


Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985, French sculptor, painter)


For us artists there waits the joyous compromise through art with all that wounded or defeated us in daily life; in this way, not to evade destiny, as the ordinary people try to do, but to fulfill it in its true potential -- the imagination.


Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990, British author)


Feminist art is not some tiny creek running off the great river of real art. It is not some crack in an otherwise flawless stone. It is, quite spectacularly I think, art which is not based on the subjugation of one half of the species. It is art which will take the great human themes -- love, death, heroism, suffering, history itself -- and render them fully human. It may also, though perhaps our imaginations are so mutilated now that we are incapable even of the ambition, introduce a new theme, one as great and as rich as those others -- should we call it "joy"?


Andrea Dworkin (1946-, American feminist critic)


The defining function of the artist is to cherish consciousness.


Max Eastman (American commentator, writer)


Every artist writes his own autobiography.


Havelock Ellis (1859-1939, British psychologist)


Art never improves, but the material of art is never quite the same.


T. S. Eliot (1888-1965, American-born British poet, critic)


The progress of an artist is a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality.


T. S. Eliot (1888-1965, American-born British poet, critic)


Art is a jealous mistress; and if a man have a genius for painting, poetry, music, architecture or philosophy, he makes a bad husband and an ill provider.


Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882, American poet, essayist)


Art is the path of the creator to his work.


Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882, American poet, essayist)


Artists must be sacrificed to their art.


Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882, American poet, essayist)


Classic art was the art of necessity: modern romantic art bears the stamp of caprice and chance.


Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882, American poet, essayist)


Each work of art excludes the world, concentrates attention on itself. For the time it is the only thing worth doing -- to do just that; be it a sonnet, a statue, a landscape, an outline head of Caesar, or an oration. Presently we return to the sight of another that globes itself into a whole as did the first, for example, a beautiful garden; and nothing seems worth doing in life but laying out a garden.


Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882, American poet, essayist)


Every artist was first an amateur.


Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882, American poet, essayist)


New arts destroy the old.


Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882, American poet, essayist)


A painting in a museum probably hears more foolish remarks than anything else in the world.


Edmond and Jules De Goncourt (1822-1896, French writers)


As a general truth, it is safe to say that any picture that produces a moral impression is a bad picture.


Edmond and Jules De Goncourt (1822-1896, French writers)


Perpetual modernism is the measure of merit in every work of art.


Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882, American poet, essayist)


Sculpture and painting have the effect of teaching us manners and abolishing hurry.


Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882, American poet, essayist)


The arts and inventions of each period are only its costume, and do not invigorate men.


Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882, American poet, essayist)


The True Artist has the planet for his pedestal; the adventurer, after years of strife, has nothing broader than his shoes.


Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882, American poet, essayist)


The true poem is the poet's mind.


Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882, American poet, essayist)


Each of the arts whose office is to refine, purify, adorn, embellish and grace life is under the patronage of a muse, no god being found worthy to preside over them.


Eliza Farnham (1815-1864, American author and social reformist)


An artist is a creature driven by demons. He doesn't know why they choose him and he's usually too busy to wonder why.


William Faulkner (1897-1962, American novelist)


The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life. Since man is mortal, the only immortality possible for him is to leave something behind him that is immortal since it will always move. This is the artist's way of scribbling "Kilroy was here" on the wall of the final and irrevocable oblivion through which he must someday pass.


William Faulkner (1897-1962, American novelist)


In a decaying society, art, if it is truthful, must also reflect decay. And unless it wants to break faith with its social function, art must show the world as changeable. And help to change it.


Ernst Fischer (1899-1972, Austrian editor, poet, critic)


I don't want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.


Carrie Fisher (1956-, American actress, novelist)


Great art is the contempt of a great man for small art.


F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940, American writer)

Author's website:


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.


Edward M. Forster (1879-1970, British novelist, essayist)


In art as in love, instinct is enough.


Anatole France (1844-1924, French writer)


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-, American author, critic)


Nature is inside art as its content, not outside as its model.


Northrop Frye (1912-1991, Canadian literary critic)


Were art to redeem man, it could do so only by saving him from the seriousness of life and restoring him to an unexpected boyishness.


Jose Ortega Y Gasset (1883-1955, Spanish essayist, philosopher)


 Back to Daimon Library English Quotes Search Page


website tracking