Art Aphorisms

Aphorisms on:


“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes; Art is knowing which ones to keep.” – Piet Mondrian

“Art is long, life short; judgement difficult, opportunity transient.” – Goethe

“All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of No-Mind, from Inner Stillness.” – Nathan Olivera

“I should like to erase the fixed boundaries that we self-assured humans like to draw around anything we can achieve.” – Hannah Hoch

“The last thing one discovers in composing a work, is what to put first.” – Blaise Pascal

“Art is the means we have of undoing the damage of haste. It’s what everything else isn’t.”

“We have art in order not to perish of truth.” -Nietzsche

“The idea becomes the machine that makes the art.” – Sol Lewitt

“Art is the stored honey of the human soul, gathered on wings of misery and travail.” – Theodor Drieser

“A thing cannot touch you if you will not allow yourself to be surprised by a beauty that cannot be foreseen.“ – Auguste Rodin

“All art requires courage.” – Anne Tucker

“Art is man’s nature. Nature is god’s art.” – James Bailey

“Art is the triumph over chaos.” – John Cheever

“Great art picks up where nature ends.” – Chagall

“All art is quite useless.”  – Oscar Wilde

“Artists and poets are the raw nerve ends of humanity.  By themselves they can do little to save humanity, but without them there would be little worth saving.”

“Fear no Art” – Chicago Art Institute

“Art is no mere lustre on the hard surface of reality. It is the finest tone of our vitality, the very echo of the organic rhythm of the universe.” – Herbert Read, in To Hell with Culture

“[Art is] an adventure into the unknown.” Herbert Read, Anarchy and Order.

“Art (…) is constantly at work educating the spirit of our age, making it possible for us to find our way back to the deepest springs of life.” – Carl Jung

Art is like a “bridge thrown out towards an unseen shore.” (referring to the contents of archetypal art) Carl Jung.

“[Art] is something strange that derives its existence from the hinterland of one’s mind, as if it had emerged from the abyss of pre-human ages.” –
(referring to the contents of archetypal vs egoistic art) Carl Jung.

“Art is the mental faculty without which none of the other graces of humankind would have come into existence.” – Herbert Read, Art and the Evolution of Man

“One is dependent on symbols which make the irrational union of opposites possible.” Carl Jung quoted in Herbert Read, The Forms of Things Unknown.

“As imagination bodies forth the forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing a local habitation and a name.” Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

“[Art] presents to intellectual attention glimpses into the vast, hidden reservoir of intuition.” – David Thistlewood.

“The mind develops, and apprehends reality, as much by imagination and dream, by myth and ritual, by art in short, as by practical intelligence.” – S. Langer

“[Art] is contemplative action.” Joanna Field

“Art, in its innermost nature, is an expression of the spontaneous instincts, and its vitality depends on its freedom to contribute to the evolutionary process of life itself.” – Herbert Read, Anarchy and Order

“If a society does not support subjectivity or individual creative vision, “to expect art to flourish is to expect steel to bud with roses.” – Herbert Read, Anarchy and Order.

“Abstract art is (…) rebellious, individualistic, unconventional, sensitive, irritable.” – Robert Motherwell

“… there is an important struggle to be waged within art.” – Rasheed Araeen.

“The aesthetic activity is a formative process with direct effect both on individual psychology and on social organization.” (in contrast to the idea of art as ‘epiphenomenon.’) – Herbert Read, Art and Alienation.

“Art has remained key to our survival from the dawn of human culture.”
– Herbert Read, Icon and Idea.

“I believe that there is only one way of saving our civilization and that is by so reforming its constituent societies that the concrete sensuous phenomena of art are once more spontaneously manifested in our daily lives. I have called this reform education through art.” Herbert Read, Art and Alienation.

An education through art “does not fit human beings for the mindless and mechanical actions of modern industry; it does not reconcile them to a leisure devoid of constructive purpose; it does not leave them satisfied with passive entertainment. It aims to create ‘stir and growth’
everywhere, to substitute for conformity and imitation in each citizen an endowment of imaginative power in a kind ‘perfectly unborrowed and his own’.” Read, Art and Alienation.

“I think of the artist as a cultural salmon. It’s an intriguing and interesting fish, at home in both fresh and salt water. It migrates thousands of miles to regenerate itself; it swims against the current rather than with it; risks leaving the water to climb up rapids (…) and after doing all this, it still has the energy and cunning to spawn something personal and new.” – Rasheed Araeen.

“Art owes its origin to Nature herself.” – Giorgio Vasari


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