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Quotes

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

—Aristotle, c. 350 BC

If my books had been any worse I should not have been invited to Hollywood, and if they had been any better I should not have come.

—Raymond Chandler, 1945

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

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

All art is a revolt against man’s fate.

—André Malraux, 1951

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 is our chief means of breaking bread with the dead.

—W.H. Auden, c. 1940

We possess art lest we perish of the truth.

—Friedrich Nietzsche, 1887

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

The work of art, just like any fragment of human life considered in its deepest meaning, seems to me devoid of value if it does not offer the hardness, the rigidity, the regularity, the luster on every interior and exterior facet, of the crystal.

—André Breton, 1937

It has always been my practice to cast a long paragraph in a single mold, to try it by my ear, to deposit it in my memory, but to suspend the action of the pen till I had given the last polish to my work.

—Edward Gibbon, c. 1790

Art lives from constraints and dies from freedom.

—Leonardo da Vinci, c. 1480

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