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Quotes

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

Nowadays three witty turns of phrase and a lie make a writer.

—G.C. Lichtenberg, c. 1780

Everyone should know nowadays the unimportance of the photographic in art—that truth, life, or reality is an organic thing which the poetic imagination can represent or suggest, in essence, only through transformation, through changing into other forms than those which were merely present in appearance.

—Tennessee Williams, 1944

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

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

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

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

—Aristotle, c. 350 BC

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

A frenzied passion for art is a canker that devours everything else.

—Charles Baudelaire, 1852

If it were not for the intellectual snobs who pay in solid cash—the tribute which philistinism owes to culture, the arts would perish with their starving practitioners. Let us thank heaven for hypocrisy.

—Aldous Huxley, 1926

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

Art is making something out of nothing and selling it.

—Frank Zappa, c. 1975

The first mistake of art is to assume that it’s serious.

—Lester Bangs, 1971