It is very interesting to consider
that some find this standard far too liberal — that one might
be a great painter, for instance, but an "artist" is
something significantly above and beyond that in achievement.
Nevertheless, a distinction is generally drawn between an artist
and an artisan, just as
there can be merit to making distinctions between the making of
art and craft.
As every definition
of art must be controversial, so any definition of artist must
be. Wherever the boundaries of a definition of artist are placed,
the more interesting question becomes: What makes one artist more
significant than another? Or better: What is it that improves
an artist? And too, What diminishes an artist?
"Art is a jealous mistress and if
a man has a genius for painting, poetry, music, architecture
or philosophy, he makes a bad husband and an ill provider."
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1888), American essayist, critic, and
philosopher. See transcendentalism.
"The artists must be sacrificed to their art. Like the bees, they must put their lives into the sting they give."
Ralph Waldo Emerson.
"Every artist dips his brush in his
own soul, and paints his nature into his pictures."
Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887), American clergyman.
"He is the greatest artist who has
embodied, in the sum of his works, the greatest numbers of the
John Ruskin (1819-1900) English critic. Modern Painters,
Vol. I, part I, chapter 2, 1843. See art
"The need to be a great artist makes it hard to be an artist. The need to produce a great work of art makes it hard to produce any art at all."
Julia Cameron (1815-1879), Indian-born English photographer. See masterpiece and photography.
"An artist is only an artist on condition that he neglects no aspect of his dual nature. This dualism is the power of being oneself and someone else at one and the same time."
Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), French poet and art critic.
"History has remembered the kings
and warriors, because they destroyed; Art has remembered the
people, because they created."
William Morris (1834-1896), English artist, poet, and social
reformer; leader of the Arts
and Crafts Movement.
"The artist is the confidant of nature.
Flowers carry on dialogues with him through the graceful bending
of their stems and the harmoniously tinted nuances of their blossoms.
Every flower has a cordial word which nature directs towards
Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), French
"The past is what man should not
have been. The present is what man
ought not to be. The future is what artists are."
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), British poet and playwright, "The
Soul of Man Under Socialism," a long political essay, 1891.
"All Artists are Anarchists."
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), Irish playwright. Quoted by
painter Augustus John, c. 1945, Chiaroscuro.
"When the artist is alive in any person . . . he becomes an inventive, searching, daring, self-expressing creature. He becomes interesting to other people. He disturbs, upsets, enlightens, and he opens ways for better understanding."
Robert Henri (1865-1929), American painter. See Ashcan school and The Eight.
"An artist's job is to surprise himself. Use all means possible."
"The position of the artist is humble.
He is essentially a channel."
Piet Mondrian (1872-1944), modern Dutch
painter, leader of De
"The artist is not a special kind
of man, but every man is a special kind of artist."
Ananda Coomraswamy (1877-1947), Indian writer. Transformation
of Nature in Art.
"Without poets, without artists, men would soon weary of nature's monotony."
Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918), French poet and art critic.
"Every child is an artist. The problem
is how to remain an artist once he grows up."
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), modern Spanish
artist. See cubism.
"But when I am alone with myself, I have not the 'courage' to think of myself as an artist in the great and ancient sense of the term."
"What do you think an artist is? An imbecile who has only his eyes if he is a painter, or his ears if he is a musician? . . . On the contrary, he is at the same time a political being, constantly on the alert to the heart-rending, burning, or happy events in the world, molding himself in their likeness."
"The ideal artist is he who knows everything, feels everything, experiences everything, and retains his experience in a spirit of wonder and feeds upon it with creative lust."
George Bellows (1882-1925), American painter. See Ashcan school.
The artist is the person who makes life more interesting or beautiful, more understandable or mysterious, or probably, in the best sense, more wonderful."
"Yesterday we obeyed kings and bent our necks before emperors. But today we kneel only to truth, follow only beauty, and obey only love."
Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931), Lebanese poet and writer, worked in the USA. See beauty, love, and truth.
"To be an artist, one must . . .
never shirk from the truth as he understands it, never withdraw
Diego Rivera (1886-1957), Mexican
painter. See mural
"In my day artists wanted to be outcasts, pariahs. Now they are all integrated into society."
Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), French-born American. See Dada.
"The artist is likely to be looked upon with some uneasiness by the more conservative members of society.
Ben Shahn (1898-1969), Lithuanian-born American painter. See New Deal art and social realism.
"What the rest of us see only under the influence of mescalin, the artist is congenitally equipped to see all the time."
Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), British writer.
"Every significant artist is a metaphysician, a propounder of beauty-truths and form-theories."
Aldous Huxley. See beauty, form, metaphysics, theory, and truth.
"An artist is a creature driven by demons — he usually doesn't know why they chose him and he's usually too busy to wonder why."
William Faulkner (1897-1962), American novelist.
"To be an artist is to believe in life."
Henry Moore (1898-1986), English sculptor. See English art and sculpture.
"The artist must say it without saying it."
Duke Ellington (1899-1974), American jazz musician. See music.
"There really is no such thing as
Art. There are only artists."
Ernst H. Gombrich (1909-2001), English art historian, The
Story of Art, 1950. See art history.
"We all name ourselves. We call ourselves artists. Nobody asks us. Nobody says you are or you aren't."
Ad Reinhardt (1913-1967), American painter. See Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism.
"Every man is an artist."
Joseph Beuys (1912-1992), German artist. See Fluxus.
"The artist is an educator of artists of the future."
Saul Steinberg (1914-1999), Romanian-born American artist. See educator.
"Artists today think of everything they do as a work of art. It is important to forget about what you are doing — then a work of art may happen."
Andrew Wyeth (1917-), American painter. See realism.
"The character of the artist doesn't enter into the nature of the art. Eliot said that art is the escape from personality, which I think is right. We know that Velázquez embezzled money from the Spanish court and wanted power and so on, but you can't see this in his art."
Lucian Freud (1920-), German-born English painter. See English art and Diego Velázquez (Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez) (Spanish, 1599-1660) in Spanish art.
"An artist needs the best studio instruction, the most rigorous demands, and the toughest criticism in order to tune up his sensibilities."
Wayne Thiebaud (1920-), American painter. See Pop art.
" 'Artist' refers to a person, willfully enmeshed in a dilemma of categories, who performs as if none of them existed."
Allan Kaprow (1927-), American artist. See conceptual art and Happening.
"An artist is someone who produces things that people don't need to have but that he — for some reason — thinks it would be a good idea to give them."
Andy Warhol (1928-1987), American painter. See Pop art.
"Why do people think artists are special? It's just another job."
"Artists are better at finding a way to kill their time."
John Baldessari (1931-), American photographer. See photography.
Bruce Nauman (American, 1941-), Window, 1967, neon tubing, 59 x 55 inches. It reads "The true artist helps the world by revealing mystic truths"
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