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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Quotations on Art

Nothing I wrote in the thirties saved one Jew from Auschwitz. WH Auden

What I am saying does not mean that there will henceforth be no form in art. It only means that there will be a new form, and that this form will be of such a type that it admits the chaos, and does not try to say that the chaos is really something else. The forms and the chaos remain separate . . . to find a form that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now. Samuel Beckett

No poem is intended for the reader, no picture for the beholder, no symphony for the listener. Walter Benjamin

I do distrust the poet who discerns no character or glory in his times. Elizabeth Barrett Browning

The decay of society is praised by artists as the decay of a corpse is praised by worms. G.K. Chesterton

Most people do not believe in anything very much and our greatest poetry is given to us by those who do. Cyril Connolly

Intuition picks up the key that memory drops.
Emily Dickinson

Of all lies, art is the least untrue. Gustave Flaubert

A thinker (and what is an artist if not a triple thinker?) should have neither religion nor fatherland nor even any social convictions. Gustave Flaubert

If you seek happiness and beauty simultaneously you will attain neither one or the other, for the price of beauty is self-denial. Art, like the Jewish God, wallows in sacrifices. Gustave Flaubert

The artist should no more appear in his work than God in nature. Gustave Flaubert

In tragedy every moment is eternity; in comedy, eternity is a moment. Christopher Fry

Sophistication is the ability to approach culture with the minimum amount of anxiety. Northrup Fry

Art is not for the cultivated taste. It is to cultivate taste. Nikki Giovanni

Architecture is frozen music. Goethe

All the performances of human art, at which we look with praise or wonder, are instances of the resistless force of perseverance. Samuel Johnson

I do not want to die . . . until I have faithfully made the most of my talent and cultivated the seed that was placed in me until the last small twig has grown. Kathe Kollwitz

Truth and reality begin when one no longer understands what one is doing or what one knows . . . Henri Matisse

No artist tolerates reality. Nietzsche

Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth. Pablo Picasso

I am a whole-hearted believer in spreading the arts around. A lot of people won’t want them, but everywhere there will be some people, all ages, ‘naturals’ I like to call them, to whom the discovery of these arts will be like finding water in the desert. And if this spreading around costs millions, then let it cost millions. It is public money well spent, which is more than can be said about a great deal of public money. J B Priestley

Style is the transformation thought imposes on reality. Proust, in Contre Sainte-Beuve

What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well. Antoine-Marie-Roger de Saint-Exupery

Art . . . reacts to or reflects the culture it springs from. Sonia Sanchez

Art has no function. It is not necessary. It has nothing to do with what anyone wants you to do or wants it to be, nothing but you and itself. The work generates itself and ideas and progress and learning come out of doing the work in a particular way. Creative art is a learning process for the artist and not a description of what is already known. An audience is always warming but it must never be necessary to your work. The work needs concentration and one is often exhausted by it. It takes so much effort just to begin and although going on is mostly a pleasure it is also a great effort. The only thing for a creative artist to do is to do his chosen work. But really there is no choice. Nobody chooses. The only thing left for a creative artist to do is to do his chosen work in spite of everything and regardless of anything because when living draws to its end there are no excuses he can make to himself or to anyone else for not having done it. Either he did do it or he did not do it and very often he did not. Alas very often he did not. Gertrude Stein

We know that a man can play Bach and Schubert and go to his day’s work at Auschwitz in the morning. George Steiner

Art: the one achievement of Man which has made the long trip up from all fours seem well advised. James Thurber

I passionately hate the idea of being with it. I think an artist always has to be out of step with his time. Orson Welles

The unencumbered stage encourages the truth operative in everyone. The less seen, the more heard. The eye is the enemy of the ear in real drama. Thornton Wilder