Artist Quotes/Quotes on Art


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"No great artist ever see things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist." -Oscar Wilde

"Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working." -Pablo Picasso

"Drawing is like making an expressive gesture with the advantage of permanence." -Henri Matisse
The Short version:
Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. --Chuck Close

The Longer version:
The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who'll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you're sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that's almost never the case. -- Chuck Close
I'm afraid I can't agree with Close. It was absolutely necessary for me to come up with an idea before I started to work, once I got past doing conventional work. Besides, his stuff is all basically the same. I will grant Picasso this, I wasn't especially prolific. But for me, quality was more important than quantity. There's a lot of Picasso, but a lot of Picasso's stuff is crap. If I wanted to just show up and get to work, I would have stayed in retail music.

Nietzsche's quote has always appealed to me.
I always work on paintings that miscarry. They pose exciting problems. It's good to fail. -Pierre Bonnard

Nothing is more useful to man than those arts which have no utility. -Ovid

A work of art is never made in advance. There is no separation between the thought and the creative act; they are completely one and the same. -Matisse
Art is never chaste. It ought to be forbidden to ignorant innocents, never allowed into contact with those not sufficiently prepared. Yes, art is dangerous. Where it is chaste, it is not art.
Pablo Picasso

When you have the super-rich paying for an immature Rose Period Picasso $104m (£57m), close to the GNP of some Caribbean or African states, something is very rotten: such gestures do no honour to art: they debase it by making the desire for it pathological.
-Robert Hughes

On a recent visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I was standing near two women who were admiring a painting. One of the women remarked: What a beautiful painting. I wonder who the artist was? The other volunteered to find out and walked over to read the wall plaque beside it. She reported that the painting had been done by Circa, in 1878. Oh, the first woman said, of course, Circa the Greek. No, the second woman replied. You’re thinking of Zorba. Circa was Italian. 😆
~ Kenneth R. Lee
A drawing is simply a line going for a walk. -Paul Klee

Burdened Children.jpg
I love that quote. I couldn't believe it when the biggest art critic in LA used it in a review about my work! I still can't.

I don’t think there’s any artist of any value who doesn’t doubt what they’re doing.
— Francis Ford Coppola
A portrait is a painting with something wrong with the mouth.
~John Singer Sargent

I've only recently begun playing around with portraiture and can confirm the truth of this observation, although sometimes it applies to noses.

"I do not doubt but the majesty and beauty of the world are latent
in any iota of the world;
I do not doubt there is far more in trivialities, insects,
vulgar persons, slaves, dwarfs, weeds, rejected refuse than
I have supposed."
-Walt Whitman

"To see a world in a grain of sand
and a heaven in a wild flower
to hold infinity in the palm of your hand
and eternity in an hour..."
-William Blake

"I loved maudlin pictures, he painted panes over doors, stage
sets, the backdrops of mountebanks, old inn signs, popular
prints, antiquated literature, church Latin, erotic books
innocent of all spelling, the novels of our grandfathers,
fairytales, children's storybooks, old operas, inane refrains,
and artless rhythms."