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Quotes

I don’t believe in total freedom for the artist. Left on his own, free to do anything he likes, the artist ends up doing nothing at all. If there’s one thing that’s dangerous for an artist, it’s precisely this question of total freedom, waiting for inspiration and all the rest of it.

—Federico Fellini, c. 1950

I cannot live without books, but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object.

—Thomas Jefferson, 1815

This is a fault common to all singers, that among their friends they will never sing when they are asked; unasked, they will never desist.

—Horace, c. 35 BC

I always thought of photography as a naughty thing to do—that was one of my favorite things about it—and when I first did it, I felt perverse.

—Diane Arbus, c. 1950

All art is a revolt against man’s fate.

—André Malraux, 1951

When we see a natural style we are quite amazed and delighted, because we expected to see an author and find a man.

—Blaise Pascal, c. 1657

Art imitates nature as well as it can, as a pupil follows his master; thus it is a sort of grandchild of God.

—Dante, c. 1315

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, 1860

I never know quite when I’m not writing. Sometimes my wife comes up to me at a party and says, Dammit, Thurber, stop writing. She usually catches me in the middle of a paragraph. Or my daughter will look up from the dinner table and ask, Is he sick? No, my wife says, he’s writing something.

—James Thurber, 1955

Modesty is a virtue not often found among poets, for almost every one of them thinks himself the greatest in the world.

—Miguel de Cervantes, 1615

Art lives from constraints and dies from freedom.

—Leonardo da Vinci, c. 1480

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.

—Aristotle, c. 350 BC

If we pretend to respect the artist at all, we must allow him his freedom of choice, in the face, in particular cases, of innumerable presumptions that the choice will not fructify. Art derives a considerable part of its beneficial exercise from flying in the face of presumptions.

—Henry James, 1884