22 Quotes That Reveal The Nature of Art

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What is art? How do we define it? What qualities should an artist have?

Many established artists and writers have struggled to answer these questions. Through their reflections, we may find some answers and perhaps, more questions.

On the Lyricism of Art

“To be an artist is to believe in life.” Henry Moore

“The main thing is to be moved, to love, to hope, to tremble, to live.” Auguste Rodin

“Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.” Andy Warhol

“At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough. You don’t need to photograph, paint, or even remember it. It is enough.” Toni Morrison

On the Aesthetics of Art

“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

“The longer you look at an object, the more abstract it becomes, and, ironically, the more real.” Lucian Freud

“The holy grail is to spend less time making the picture than it takes people to look at it.” Banksy

“Painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do.” Edgar Degas

“There are painters who transform the sun into a yellow spot, but there are others who, thanks to their art and intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun.” Pablo Picasso

Being Proactive

“I am seeking. I am striving. I am in it with all my heart.” Vincent van Gogh

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” Andy Warhol

“Amateurs look for inspiration; the rest of us just get up and go to work.” Chuck Close

“Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing.” Georgia O’Keeffe

Being Smug 

“When I was a child my mother said to me, 'If you become a soldier, you'll be a general. If you become a monk, you'll be the pope.' Instead I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.” Pablo Picasso

"There comes a moment in everyone's life when they realise they adore me." Salvador Dali

"Each morning, when I wake up, I experience a supreme pleasure: that of being Salvador Dali. What is this fantastic creature going to do today, I ask myself. What prodigious works of beauty will he create?" Salvador Dali

"There are some days when I think I'm going to die from an overdose of satisfaction." Salvador Dali

“The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.” Robert Hughes

Being Practical

“The position of the artist is humble. He is essentially a channel.” Piet Mondrian

“Life obliges me to do something, so I paint.” Rene Magritte

“I paint for myself. I don't know how to do anything else, anyway. Also I have to earn my living, and occupy myself.” Francis Bacon

“If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful at all.” Michelangelo


There're artists who believe in themselves and artists who doubt themselves. There're artists who believe in the redemptive beauty of art and artists who feel that creating art is just another activity they do.

It seems that the world of art and artists is as diverse as any other world.

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