Art Quotes from Great Artists

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Mankind has been creating and appreciating art since its very beginnings. These art quotes celebrate all the beauty and creativity that art provides.

Whether it’s an ancient cave painting, the work of the famed Old Masters of the Renaissance, or at the cutting edge of Modern Art, art has the capacity to capture a moment in time and stir up our emotions.

So enjoy these quotes from celebrated artists and enjoy their inspiration to make the world more beautiful today.

Top 10 Art Quotes

Every artist was first an amateur.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

To be an artist is to believe in life.

Henry Moore
Jackson Pollock quote "Art is coming face to face with yourself"
“Art is coming face to face with yourself.” – Jackson Pollock

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.

Thomas Merton

Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.

Edgar Degas

Art is never finished, only abandoned.

Leonardo da Vinci

Art is to console those who are broken by life.

Vincent Van Gogh
Andy Warhol quote "Art is what you can get away with"
“Art is what you can get away with.” – Andy Warhol

Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.


Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.

Pablo Picasso

Quotes about Art

The most seductive thing about art is the personality of the artist himself.

Paul Cézanne

Art is standing with one hand extended into the universe and one hand extended into the world, and letting ourselves be a conduit for passing energy.

Albert Einstein

The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before.

Neil Gaiman

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.

Scott Adams

All art is a kind of confession, more or less oblique. All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story; to vomit the anguish up.

James Baldwin

One eye sees, the other feels.

Paul Klee

The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.

Pablo Picasso
Elbert Hubbard art quote "Art is not a thing, it is a way"
“Art is not a thing, it is a way.” – Elbert Hubbard

Art is standing with one hand extended into the universe and one hand extended into the world, and letting ourselves be a conduit for passing energy.

Albert Einstein

A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art.

Paul Cézanne

Modern art is a disaster area. Never in the field of human history has so much been used by so many to say so little.


Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.

Leonardo da Vinci

To draw you must close your eyes and sing.

Pablo Picasso

Every morning when I wake up, I experience an exquisite joy —the joy of being Salvador Dalí— and I ask myself in rapture: What wonderful things is this Salvador Dalí going to accomplish today?

Salvador Dalí

Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does, the better.

André Gide

I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.

Georgia O’Keeffe
Louise Bourgeois quote "Art is a way of recognizing oneself"
“Art is a way of recognizing oneself.” – Louise Bourgeois

… and then, I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough?

Vincent Van Gogh

Everything you can imagine is real.

Pablo Picasso

If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint.

Edward Hopper

The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.

Friedrich Nietzsche

The object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity.

Alberto Giacometti

Art deteriorates when it is done for the audience.

James Pierce

Art will remain the most astonishing activity of mankind born out of struggle between wisdom and madness, between dream and reality in our mind.

Magdalena Abakanowicz

In any art you’re allowed to steal anything if you can make it better.

Ernest Hemingway
Susan Sontag quote "Obsessive people make great art"
“Obsessive people make great art.” – Susan Sontag

Art is the expression of the profoundest thoughts in the simplest way.

Albert Einstein

If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him.

John F. Kennedy

We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.

John F. Kennedy

The more we can get in tune with the harmony of the planet, the more our art can benefit from that relationship.

Rick Rubin

Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art.

Leonardo da Vinci

Art is not a mirror to hold up to society, but a hammer with which to shape it.

Leon Trotsky

Art is meant to disturb, science reassures.

Georges Braque

What art is, in reality, is this missing link, not the links which exist. It’s not what you see that is art; art is the gap.

Marcel Duchamp
"The principle of true art is not to portray but to evoke"
“The principle of true art is not to portray, but to evoke.” – Jerzy Kosiński

Art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.

Rainbow Rowell

Art is the concrete representation of our most subtle feelings.

Agnes Martin

Art is my life and my life is art.

Yoko Ono

Art must destroy violence, only it can do it.

Leo Tolstoy

Art Quotes From Artists

If I close my eyes, I see things better than with my eyes open.

Henri Matisse

Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.

Oscar Wilde

If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.


Don’t pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches.

Andy Warhol
"Art is a line around your thoughts"
“Art is a line around your thoughts.” – Gustav Klimt

I shut my eyes in order to see.

Paul Gauguin

I must have flowers, always, and always.

Claude Monet

I couldn’t give you something mediocre even if that’s all you asked for.


Practice what you know, and it will help to make clear what now you do not know.


Lord, grant that I may always desire more than I accomplish.


Color is my daylong obsession, joy, and torment.

Claude Monet

I paint flowers so they will not die.

Frida Kahlo

I don’t paint dreams or nightmares, I paint my own reality.

Frida Kahlo
Albert Camus art quote "A true masterpiece does not tell everything"
“A true masterpiece does not tell everything.” – Albert Camus

A work is finished when an artist realizes his intentions.


Without tradition art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation it is a corpse.

Winston Churchill

Art lives from constraints and dies from freedom.

Leonardo da Vinci

Creativity takes courage.

Henri Matisse

Art should be something that liberates your soul, provokes the imagination and encourages people to go further.

Keith Haring

No great work of art is ever finished.


Whoever wants to know something about me, they should look attentively at my pictures and there seek to recognise what I am and what I want.

Gustav Klimt

What keeps my heart awake is colorful silence.

Claude Monet
"Every canvas is a journey all its own"
“Every canvas is a journey all its own.” – Helen Frankenthaler

A beautiful body perishes, but a work of art dies not.

Leonardo da Vinci

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.


It’s so fine and yet so terrible to stand in front of a blank canvas.

Paul Cézanne

Art must be an expression of love or it is nothing.

Marc Chagall

The object isn’t to make art, it’s to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable.

Robert Henri

Quotes about Artists

All artists are willing to suffer for their work. But why are so few prepared to learn to draw?


A true artist is not one who is inspired but one who inspires others.

Salvador Dalí
"The artist sees what others only catch a glimpse of"
“The artist sees what others only catch a glimpse of.” – Leonardo da Vinci

Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.

Peter O’Toole

Bad artists copy. Good artists steal.

Pablo Picasso

You might as well ask an artist to explain his art, or ask a poet to explain his poem. It defeats the purpose. The meaning is only clear thorough the search.

Rick Riordan

A work is finished when an artist realizes his intentions.


If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.

Emile Zola

The artist’s world is limitless. It can be found anywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away. It is always on his doorstep.

Paul Strand

An artist cannot fail; it is a success to be one.

Charles Cooley
"An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision"
“An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision.” – James Whistler

The modern artist is working and expressing an inner world – in other words – expressing the energy, the motion, and other inner forces.

Jackson Pollock

An artist discovers his genius the day he dares not to please.

Andre Malraux

A true artist is not one who is inspired but one who inspires others.

Salvador Dalí

Contrary to general belief, an artist is never ahead of his time but most people are far behind theirs.

Edgard Varese

The artist is not a different kind of person, but every person is a different kind of artist.

Eric Gill

An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way.

Charles Bukowski

An artist should never be a prisoner of himself, prisoner of style, prisoner of reputation, prisoner of success.

Henri Matisse

In the mind of every artist there is a masterpiece.

Kai Green
Vincent van Gogh quote "The great artist is the simplifier"
“The great artist is the simplifier.” – Vincent van Gogh

An artist’s only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else’s.

J.D. Salinger

The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work.

Emile Zola

The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.

Robert Hughes

The role of the artist is to ask questions, not answer them.

Anton Pavlovich Chekhov

He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.

St. Francis of Assisi

The artist must train not only his eye but also his soul.

Wassily Kandinsky

An artist is a dreamer consenting to dream of the actual world.

George Santayana
Kai Green quote "In the mind of every artist there is a masterpiece"
“In the mind of every artist there is a masterpiece.” – Kai Green

Artists are just children who refuse to put down their crayons.

Al Hirschfield

Man needs music, literature, and painting – all those oases of perfection that make up art – to compensate for the rudeness and materialism of life.

Fernando Botero

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

The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery.

Francis Bacon

The public wants to understand and learn in a single day, a single minute, what the artist has spent years learning.

Paul Gauguin

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.

Pablo Picasso

Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.

Henry Ward Beecher
"The world is only as free as it allows its artists to be"
“The world is only as free as it allows its artists to be.” – Rick Rubin

Humorous Art Quotes

What is an artist? For every thousand people there’s nine hundred doing the work, ninety doing well, nine doing good, and one lucky bastard who’s the artist.

Tom Stoppard

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.

George Bernard Shaw

The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will spark off a revolution.

Paul Cézanne

Art is the only serious thing in the world. And the artist is the only person who is never serious.

Oscar Wilde

There are three kinds of people in the world: those who can’t stand Picasso, those who can’t stand Raphael, and those who have never heard of either.

John White

We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.

Bob Ross
Al Hirshfiled quote "A sculpture is just a drawing you fall over in the dark"
“A sculpture is just a drawing you fall over in the dark.” – Al Hirschfield

Van Gogh would have sold more than one painting if he’d put tigers in them.

Tom Hobbes

I would never have taken up painting if women did not have breasts.

Pierre Auguste Renoir

If you have a burning restless urge to paint, simply eat something sweet and the feeling will pass.

Fran Lebowitz

An amateur is an artist who supports himself with outside jobs which enable him to paint. A professional is someone whose wife works to enable him to paint.

Ben Shahn

Modern art is what happens when painters stop looking at girls and persuade themselves they have a better idea.

John Ciardi

Rembrandt painted 700 pictures. Of these 3,000 are in existence.

Wilhelm Bode
John Sargent art quote "Every time I paint a portrait I lose a friend"
“Every time I paint a portrait, I lose a friend.” – John Singer Sargent

If the old masters had labelled their fruit, one wouldn’t be so likely to mistake pears for turnips.

Mark Twain

The more you look at modern art exhibits, the more everything begins to look like an exhibit, including the attendant’s chair and the fire extinguisher.

Brian Sewell

I hate flowers. I paint them because they’re cheaper than models and they don’t move.

Georgia O’Keeffe

If you’re enjoying these humorous quotes about art, you’ll also love our 300 Funny Quotes to Make You Laugh for even more laughable lines from people who make comedy their art.

Treat a work of art like a prince: let it speak to you first.

Arthur Schopenhauer

I guess I’m a little weird. I like to talk to trees and animals. That’s okay though; I have more fun than most people.

Bob Ross

When art critics get together they talk about Form and Structure and Meaning. When artists get together they talk about where you can buy cheap turpentine.

Pablo Picasso
Mark Twain art quote "He was our greatest living painter until he died"
“He was our greatest living painter, until he died.” – Mark Twain

There are only two styles of portrait painting; the serious and the smirk.

Charles Dickens

Any fool can paint a picture, but it takes a wise man to be able to sell it.

Samuel Butler

Art is art, isn’t it? And water is water and east is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like apple-sauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does.

Groucho Marx

Becoming an artist, like becoming a writer, can be a daunting prospect. After all, the great Van Gogh barely sold any of his paintings in his lifetime.

However, whether you’re interested in paint, pottery, sculpture, watercolor, or even photography, it’s never too late to follow your passion and become an artist.

We hope these art quotes inspire you wherever you are in your creative journey and encourage you to make some art today.

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Natalie Seale

Natalie Seale is a writer and researcher with an MA, MSc, and PhD in History from the University of Edinburgh. Natalie is an avid reader, a keen traveller, and enjoys cooking and walking with her English Spaniel. Her posts focus on inspiring ideas and tips that help people learn, gro, and inspire others.

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