Art Quotes

Art Quotes – A Look at Inspirational Quotes by Famous Artists

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Today, we will be examining an array of art quotes. We shall include five separate categories of quotes, and each of those categories will contain a whopping ten quotes. These quotes have been specifically curated, and so perhaps they may just be of interest to you if you happen to be an enjoyer of quotes. So, let us continue down yonder into the realm of the art quote!



A Few Good Art Quotes

There are many fantastic art quotes out there in the wide world, and while many of them may be considered inspirational quotes on art, they are not all necessarily intended for that purpose. However, one may find inspiration anywhere in this world, and so perhaps some of these may offer you a good place to start when looking for inspiration. There will be five separate categories below and each will, roughly, fall within that category.

They sometimes fall within more than one, but in the end, hopefully, they offer you something worth reading. Let’s have a look.


The Purpose of Art

Let’s have a look at a few art quotes that directly examine the purpose of art. Why does art exist? These quotes try, in some way, to answer that question, but their answers may not be those that you agree with. Let’s check them out anyway.

Inspirational Quotes in Art PiecesThe Sower (1888) by Vincent van Gogh; Vincent van Gogh, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” – Aristotle, Philosopher (384 – 322 BCE)


“We have art in order not to die of the truth.” – Friedrich Nietzsche, Philosopher (1844 – 1900)


“A work of art is useless as a flower is useless.” – Oscar Wilde, Writer (1854 – 1900)


“Art for art’s sake is a philosophy of the well-fed.” – Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect (1867 – 1959)


“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” – Pablo Picasso, Artist (1881 – 1973)


“Great art is never produced for its own sake. It is too difficult to be worth the effort.” – Robert Quillen, Journalist (1887 – 1948)

Inspirational Quotes on ArtPortrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (Adele Bloch-Bauer I) (1907) by Gustav Klimt; Gustav Klimt, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


“Art evokes the mystery without which the world would not exist.” – Rene Magritte, Artist (1898 – 1967)


“A work of art has no importance whatever to society. It is only important to the individual.” – Vladimir Nabokov, Novelist (1899 – 1977)


“Art is a revolt against fate. All art is a revolt against man’s fate.” – Andre Malraux, Writer (1901 – 1976)


“Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is.” – Jackson Pollock, Painter (1912 – 1956)


What Is Art?

Let’s have a look at a collection of art quotes that are focused on what art itself is. This can often be from a more metaphysical position, but some of those listed below instead see it from humorous or other angles. Let’s see what they have to say.

Iconic Art QuotesFountain, photograph by Alfred Stieglitz at the 291 (Art Gallery) following the 1917 Society of Independent Artists exhibit, with entry tag visible; Alfred Stieglitz, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


“All art is but imitation of nature.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Philosopher (4 BCE – 65 CE)


“Painting, n.: The art of protecting flat surfaces from the weather, and exposing them to the critic.” – Ambrose Bierce, Writer (1842 -1914)


“Art is not a thing; it is a way.” – Elbert Hubbard, Writer (1856 – 1915)


“Art is pattern informed by sensibility.” – Herbert Read, Art Historian (1893 – 1968)


“Art is a marriage of the conscious and the unconscious.” – Jean Cocteau, Writer (1889 – 1963)

Artist QuotesDance at Le Moulin de la Galette (1876) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir; Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


“Art is one thing that can go on mattering once it has stopped hurting.” – Elizabeth Bowen, Writer (1899 – 1973)


“Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos.” – Stephen Sondheim, Composer (1930 – 2021)


“Art is making something out of nothing and selling it.” – Frank Zappa, Musician (1940 – 1993)


“Art is the unceasing effort to compete with the beauty of flowers – and never succeeding.” – Gian Carlo Menotti, Composer (1911 – 2007)


“Art is an invention of aesthetics, which in turn is an invention of philosophers… What we call art is a game.” – Octavio Paz, Poet (1914 – 1998)


The Artist and Creating Art

Art has to be made by someone, and this collection of art quotes is focused on that reality. Some of these are artist quotes but others come from an array of other sources. Regardless of where these quotes come from, they are all focused on the nature of where art originates and why we create it in the first place. Let’s see what they have to say.

Famous Art QuotesLiberty Leading the People (1830) by Eugène Delacroix; Eugène Delacroix, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


“The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery.” – Francis Bacon, Philosopher (1561 – 1626)


“The artist who aims at perfection in everything achieves it in nothing.” – Eugene Delacroix, Artist (1798 – 1863)


“An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision.” -James Whistler, Painter (1834 – 1903)


“Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.” – Edgar Degas, Artist (1834 – 1917)


“An artist is a dreamer consenting to dream of the actual world.” – George Santayana, Philosopher (1863 – 1952)


“An artist never really finishes his work, he merely abandons it.” – Paul Valery, Philosopher (1871 – 1945)

Top Artist QuotesNocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket (c. 1875) by James McNeill Whistler; James McNeill Whistler, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


“Lesser artists borrow, great artists steal.” – Igor Stravinsky, Composer (1882 – 1971)


“Painting is an infinitely minute part of my personality.” – Salvador Dalí, Artist (1904 – 1989)


“An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way.” – Charles Bukowski, Writer (1920 – 1994)


“Great artists suffer for the people.” – Marvin Gaye, Musician (1939 – 1984)


Art and Spirituality

There are many who see a spiritual connection between art and the artist, but that is not the way everyone sees it. However, for those who do see it that way, perhaps this collection of art quotes will be to your liking. Let’s have a look and see what they have to say about the connections between art and spirituality.

Art Quotes to KnowWanderer Above the Sea of Fog (1817) by Caspar David Friedrich; Caspar David Friedrich, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


“Every painting is a voyage into a sacred harbor.” – Giotto di Bondone, Painter (1267 – 1337)


“The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.” – Michelangelo, Artist (1475 – 1564)


“Religion and art spring from the same root and are close kin. Economics and art are strangers.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne, Writer (1804 – 1864)


“The highest art is always the most religious, and the greatest artist is always a devout person.” – Abraham Lincoln, Politician (1809 – 1865)


“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” – Henry Ward Beecher, Clergyman (1813 – 1887)

Artist Quotes to KnowThe Creation of Adam (c. 1511) by Michelangelo; Michelangelo, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


“It is through art, and through art only, that we can realize our perfection.” – Oscar Wilde, Writer (1854 – 1900)


“With color one obtains an energy that seems to stem from witchcraft.” – Henri Matisse, Artist (1869 – 1954)


“Every production of an artist should be the expression of an adventure of his soul.” – Somerset Maugham, Writer (1874 – 1965)


“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 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’s bad art.” – Marc Chagall, Artist (1887 – 1985)


“I rarely draw what I see. I draw what I feel in my body.” – Barbara Hepworth, Sculptor (1903 – 1975)


Art As Reflection

To many, art is a means of reflecting the world. Some of the earliest philosophical ideas about art saw it as mimicking the real world. Well, let’s have a look at a few art quotes that explore that very idea.

Famous Quotes About ArtLe Déjeuner sur l’herbe (1865 – 1866) by Claude Monet; Claude Monet, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


“A room hung with pictures is a room hung with thoughts.” – Joshua Reynolds, Painter (1723 – 1792)


“The mission of art is to represent nature not to imitate her.” – William Morris Hunt, Painter (1824 – 1879)


“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” – Edgar Degas, Painter (1834 – 1917)


“Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.” – George Bernard Shaw, Writer (1856 – 1950)


“Great art is an instant arrested in eternity.” – James Huneker, Critic (1857 – 1921)

Quotes About ArtThe Ballet Class (1871 – 1874) by Edgar Degas; Edgar Degas, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


“The goal of art was the vital expression of self.” – Alfred Stieglitz, Photographer (1864 – 1946)


“Only through art can we emerge from ourselves and know what another person sees.” – Marcel Proust, Writer (1871 – 1922)


“Layer by layer art strips life bare.” – Robert Musil, Writer (1880 – 1942)


“Art is the concrete representation of our most subtle feelings.” – Agnes Martin, Painter (1912 – 2004)


“The principles of true art is not to portray, but to evoke.” – Jerzy Kosinski, Writer (1933 – 1991)


And alas, poor Yorick, we have come upon the conclusion of this article. We hath gazed upon numerous inspirational quotes on art (as well as a few that may be far less inspirational) throughout the course of this text, and we wish you a most grand continuation of your day. Perhaps there are more quotes, some artist quotes, some critic quotes, or some random quotes that may be of interest to you. However, you shall have to find them elsewhere for we are at an end. Exit, pursued by an algorithm.




Frequently Asked Questions


What Is the Most Famous Art Quote?

It is possible that the quote, A work of art is useless as a flower is useless, by Oscar Wilde is the most famous, or influential, art quote. The reason for this particular quote’s fame is because it forms part of the idea of art for art’s sake. Art does not need to have a purpose to be beautiful and desirable. It can simply be. It doesn’t need any deeper meaning behind it. We can often find our own meaning by interrogating a piece of art, but we could also just find it to be pretty. The only problem with this quote is the rather pedantic point that flowers are not useless, as they form an integral part of the ecosystem and life on earth would likely perish without them. However, from a human perspective, they can be seen as useless for the most part.


Are Quotes About Art Useful?

The usefulness of a quote is entirely up to you. If you personally find that a quote is particularly meaningful to you, then it has a definite use for you. Many artists attempt to find inspirational quotes on art to inspire them to become better artists or to get through issues like writer’s block and similar artist blocks. However, this will not work for everyone. Many people love inspirational quotes, while others do not care for them. If you find any of the quotes in this article to be beneficial to you, then keep them close to your heart. If none of them speak to you, then ignore them! What have you got to lose?


Should We Pay Attention to Quotes About Art?

If you like a quote, you like a quote. There’s nothing right or wrong with enjoying or not enjoying something. However, quotes are generally snappy and short, and attempt to be profound in some way. This also means that they lack academic rigor. Artist quotes, and critic or academic quotes, can often be significantly different from one another, with the former often being focused on a more spiritual or creative way of thinking, while the more academically-minded quotes tend to be both longer and more grounded. Sadly, academic quotes usually require more context, so rather than getting a short and sweet quote, you may need to read a whole book.


Are Art Quotes Pretentious?

Any quote could be pretentious, and there are certainly many that would easily fit into the realm of the pretentious over others. However, this can often be something very personal. Some may find more academically-inclined quotes to be pretentious, while others may find more spiritually-oriented art quotes to be pretentious. However, there can often be something of a reputation for those who memorize quotes so that they can use them on others. People do tend to find that kind of behavior to be a little pretentious, but it does also depend on what kind of a crowd you’re hanging out with, because some people may like it but others will not.


Why Does the Appeal to Authority Fallacy Apply to Art Quotes?

The appeal to authority fallacy is a form of argumentative fallacy. This means that it is something that is logically incorrect to do in an argument, and if one appeals to authority, then this means that an arguer is pointing to someone outside the argument to win it on their behalf. This means that if, for instance, you were having an argument with someone about art, and you decided to use a quote from a famous artist as if it was proof, you would be committing this fallacy. Just because that person was a famous artist does not mean that their authority can be used to win the argument for you.

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