A Collection of Art and Artist Quotes

The following quotes about art and artistic creation are ones that I hope you will find to be insightful, enlightening, and sometimes funny. The quotations are grouped by category and sorted by author.

Art Quotations That Are Humorous

Scott Adams on creativity
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
Ambrose Bierce from The Devil's Dictionary on painting
Painting: The art of protecting flat surfaces from the weather and exposing them to the critic.
John Anthony Ciardi
Modern art is what happens when painters stop looking at girls and persuade themselves that they have a better idea.
Edgar Degas
Painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do.
Edmond & Jules de Goncourt on art criticism
Surely nothing has to listen to so many stupid remarks as a painting in a museum.
Robert Hughes on art prices
A fair price is the highest one a collector can be induced to pay.
Max Jacob
The moment you cheat for the sake of beauty, you know you're an artist.
Paul Klee on the dot
A line is a dot that went for a walk.
Hilton Kramer
The more minimal the art, the more maximum the explanation.
Marshall McLuhan on what is art
Art is anything you can get away with.
Barnett Newman
Aesthetics is for the artist like ornithology is for the birds.
Frank Zappa on what is art
Art is making something out of nothing and selling it.

Art Quotations That Are Philosophical

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.
In painting, the most brilliant colors, spread at random and without design, will give far less pleasure than the simplest outline of a figure.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.
Paul Gauguin
I shut my eyes in order to see.
Pablo Picasso
I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else.
Vincent van Gogh
Art, although produced by man's hands, is something not created by hands alone, but something which wells up from a deeper source out of our soul.....My sympathies in the literary as well as in the artistic field are drawn most strongly to those artists in whom I see most the working of the soul.
James Joyce
The artist, like the God of the creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails.
Wassily Kandinsky
The artist must have something to say, for mastery over form is not his goal but rather the adapting of form to its inner meaning.
Wassily Kandinsky
The inner need is built up of three mystical elements: (1) Every artist, as a creator, has something in him which calls for expression (this is the element of personality). (2) Every artist, as child of his age, is impelled to express the spirit of his age (this is the element of style) -- dictated by the period and particular country to which the artist belongs (it is doubtful how long the latter distinction will continue to exist). (3) Every artist, as a servant of art, has to help the cause of art (this is the element of pure artistry, which is constant in all ages and among all nationalities). Only the third element -- that of pure artistry -- will remain for ever...
Henri Matisse
The arts have a development which comes not only from the individual but also from a whole acquired force, the civilization which precedes us. One cannot do just anything. A talented artist cannot do whatever he pleases. If he only used his gifts, he would not exist. We are not the masters of what we produce. It is imposed on us.
Piet Mondrian
I think you too recognize the important relationship between philosophy and art, and it is just this relationship that most painters deny. The great masters do grasp it, unconsciously; but I believe that a painter's conscious spiritual knowledge will have a much greater influence upon his art, and that it would be due only to a weakness in him, or lack of genius, should this spiritual knowledge be harmful to his art...

Art Quotations About The Artistic Process

Max Bill
I endeavor to make a picture, for instance, exert a positive influence on the observer by its coloring, mood, and compositional idea, encouraging, say, activation, tranquilization, concentration, or harmony...
George Braque
The starting point of a picture for any painter is a matter of colors and form...I believe that the poetry of art - if that is what one may call it - is a matter of animating these forms and colors.
Paul Cezanne
Design and color are not distinct and separate. As one paints, one draws. The more the colors harmonize, the more the design takes form. When color is at it's richest, form is at its fullest.
Paul Cezanne
Painting, like any art, comprises a technique, a workmanlike handling of material, but the accuracy of a tone and the fictitious combination of effects depend entirely on the choice made by the artist.
Edward Hopper
No amount of skilful invention can replace the essential element of imagination.
A man paints with his brains and not with his hands.
Piet Mondrian
The only problem in art is to achieve a balance between subjective and objective.
Claude Monet
When you go out to paint, try to forget what objects you have before you - a tree, house, a field....Merely think, here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow, and paint it just as it looks to you, the exact color and shape, until it gives your own naive impression of the scene before you.

And In Conclusion...

Pablo Picasso
Everyone wants to understand art. Why not try to understand the song of a bird? Why does one love the night, flowers, everything around one, without trying to understand them? But in the case of a painting people have to understand. If only they would realize above all that an artist works of necissity, that he himself is only a trifling bit of the world, and that no more importance should be attached to him than to plenty of other things which please us in the world, though we can't explain them. People who try to explain pictures are usually barking up the wrong tree.

For other quotation collections see:

Computer Art QuotesA collection of quotations about computer art
Space/Astronomical Art QuotesQuotations about space art and astronomical art