Art in Quotes

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Throughout history, man has expressed himself through art - whether primitive drawings on caves, or using sophisticated media to paint astounding works of art inside cathedrals, or perhaps on canvas. We have marvelled at their skill and talent. Yet in recent times anything appears to pass as art, and the skill is more in taking yourself seriously and hoping that others will too in your proclamation that the most ordinary things are significant and genuine works of art. Here we look at quotes on art:

Art does not reproduce what we see; rather, it makes us see.
- Paul Klee

For Klee art helps us with our self-awareness, allowing us to see and interpret reality in new, different and interesting ways. It is an educational process whereby we learn something more about our environment through art. But is this true?

Art never expresses anything but itself
- Oscar Wilde

Well, not according to Oscar Wilde. Art is simply art, pure and simple! But of course, appreciation of art is ultimately subjective and there is hence no objective standard:

Interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art.
- Susan Sontag

Works done least rapidly, Art most cherishes.
- Robert Browning

Browning suggests that taking time over work is a good thing, and those which take the most time, thought and effort are those most cherised by Art itself. Best not show him modern art, then...!

We must have religion for religion's sake, morality for morality's sake, as with art for art's sake.
- Victor Cousin

Here Victor Cousin talks of religion, morality and art in the same breath, justifying the three with being required for the same reason. Given the timelessness and sheer historical significance of both religion and morality, it is poignant that Cousin mentions art as an equal.

And the potential effects of art are not to be underestimated:

Art is either a plagiarist or a revolutionist
- Paul Gauguin

So what are the effects of a love of art, or the Arts in general, on the individual practitioner? For their partner it's not that great according to the below:

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

Does Modern Art take itself too seriously? Has it forgotten to concentrate on the talent - the work of art itself and the subject of the art in search of some pretentious theme?

Nothing is so poor and melancholy as art that is interested in itself and not in its subject
- George Santayana

For Santayana, the prime requirement of art is simply that it not be distracted from the rightful focus - the subject itself.

And what is it actually like to be an artist? What personality and character traits must the artist possess?

Artists must be sacrificed to their art. Like bees, they must put their lives into the sting they give.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

For Emerson, the artist must be dedicated to their art, at the exclusion of other aspects of their life.

After all is said and done, perhaps it's just as well there are few left considered to be true artists in this day and age, for living with such a person would appear rather grim. The final word on this to George Bernard Shaw:

The true artist will let his wife starve, his children go barefoot, his mother drudge for his living at seventy, sooner than work at anything but his art.

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