Art Criticism Quotes

Quotes tagged as "art-criticism" Showing 1-29 of 29
Susan Sontag
“Interpretation is the revenge of the intellectual upon art. ”
Susan Sontag

Freddie Mercury
“Modern paintings are like women, you'll never enjoy them if you try to understand them.”
Freddie Mercury

“All artists are willing to suffer for their work. But why are so few prepared to learn to draw?”
Banksy, Wall and Piece

John Lennon
“Avant-garde is French for bullshit”
John Lennon

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
“The problem of knowledge is that there are many more books on birds written by ornithologists than books on birds written by birds and books on ornithologists written by birds”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms

Gore Vidal
“Andy Warhol is the only genius I've ever known with an IQ of 60.”
Gore Vidal

“When your work speaks for itself, don't interrupt.”
Henry J. Kaiser

Norman Rockwell
“I just wanted to do something important.”
Norman Rockwell, Norman Rockwell: My Adventures as an Illustrator

“When art is made new, we are made new with it. We have a sense of solidarity with our own time, and of psychic energies shared and redoubled, which is just about the most satisfying thing that life has to offer. 'If that is possible,' we say to ourselves, 'then everything is possible'; a new phase in the history of human awareness has been opened up, just as it opened up when people first read Dante, or first heard Bach's 48 preludes and fugues, or first learned from Hamlet and King Lear(/I> that the complexities and contradictions of human nature could be spelled out on the stage.

This being so, it is a great exasperation to come face to face with new art and not make anything of it. Stared down by something that we don't like, don't understand and can't believe in, we feel personally affronted, as if our identity as reasonably alert and responsive human beings had been called into question. We ought to be having a good time, and we aren't. More than that, an important part of life is being withheld from us; for if any one thing is certain in this world it is that art is there to help us live, and for no other reason.

John Russell, The Meaning of Modern Art: History as Nightmare, Vol. 3

Oscar Wilde
“The critic will certainly be an interpreter, but he will not treat Art as a riddling Sphinx, whose shallow secret may be guessed and revealed by one whose feet are wounded and who knows not his name. Rather, he will look upon Art as a goddess whose mystery it is his province to intensify, and whose majesty his privilege to make more marvellous in the eyes of men.”
Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist

María Gainza
“Isn’t all artwork—or all decent art—a mirror? Might a great painting not even reformulate the question what is it about to what am I about? Isn’t theory also in some sense always autobiography?”
María Gainza, El nervio óptico

Ron Brackin
“The artist is the only one qualified to criticize his art, because only the artist knows what he was trying to express and how satisfied he is with the attempt.”
Ron Brackin

“I retain, but suspend, my personal taste to deal with the panoply of the art I see. I have a trick for doing justice to an uncongenial work: “What would I like about this if I liked it?” I may come around; I may not. Failing that, I wonder, What must the people who like this be like? Anthropology.”
Peter Schjeldahl

William Zinsser
“Whenever I listen to an artist or an art historian I'm struck by how much they see and how much they know--and how much I don't.

Good art writing should therefore do at least two things. It should teach us how to look: at art, architecture, sculpture, photography and all the other visual components of our daily landscape. And it should give us the information we need to understand what we're looking at.”
William Knowlton Zinsser, Writing to Learn: How to Write--And Think--Clearly about Any Subject at All

Lucy R. Lippard
“I do write about men now and then, but I mostly write about women because that's the work I like best. When I became a feminist, I realized that somebody had to write all about this women's art that was out there ignored, and it was going to be me. And of course the ideas were particularly interesting to me, and the discoveries, about what women's art was and could be. I often say I'm more interested and mediocre art by women than in mediocre art by men – which is interpreted as I only like mediocre art or women only do mediocre art – all that shit. I don't write about mediocre art but I look at it and it does interest me for the information it gives me about women's imagery, women's psyches, women's lives, women's experience.”
Lucy Lippard in Talking Art Interviews With Artists Since 1976

“...I missed even the idea of home. But it seems to me that if you are someone who leaves, then you must always be leaving, because to stop leaving is to stay, which holds its own consequences. The space between staying and leaving, I think, is called longing.”
Larissa Pham, Pop Song: Adventures in Art & Intimacy

Jane Allen Petrick
“Norman Rockwell saved my life.”
Jane Allen Petrick, Hidden in Plain Sight: The Other People in Norman Rockwell's America

John Berger
“It is a mistake to think of publicity supplanting the visual art of post-Renaissance Europe; it is the last moribund form of that art.”
John Berger, Ways of Seeing

James K. Morrow
“I'll tell you something, though. I did not hate the lurid dreams. The best of them had an emotional reality, a core of honest sensation, that brought me nearer to aesthetic truth than did the stuff that the literati were always fussing about. Art, I believe, is where you find it.”
James K. Morrow, The Continent of Lies

“Modern art always projects itself into a twilight zone where no values are fixed. It is always born in anxiety, at least since Cézanne. And Picasso once said that what matters most to us in Cézanne, more than his pictures, is his anxiety. It seems to me a function of modern art to transmit this anxiety to the spectator, so that his encounter with the work is--at least while the work is new-- a genuine existential predicament. Like Kierkegaard's God, the work molests us with its aggressive absurdity [...]. It demands a decision in which you discover something of your own quality; and this decision is always a "leap of faith," to use Kierkegaard's famous term. And like Kierkegaard's God, who demands a sacrifice from Abraham in violation of every moral standard: like Kierkegaard's God, the picture seems arbitrary, cruel, irrational, demanding your faith, while it makes no promise of future rewards. In other words, it is in the nature of original contemporary art to present itself as a bad risk. And we the public, artists included, should be proud of being in this predicament, because nothing else would seem to us quite true to life; and art, after all, is supposed to be a mirror of life.”
Leo Steinberg, Other Criteria: Confrontations with Twentieth-Century Art

“Gentle Sir Conan, I'll venture that few have been
Half as prodigiously lucky as you have been.
Fortune, the flirt! has been wondrously kind to you.
Ever beneficent, sweet and refined to you.
Doomed to the practise of physic and surgery,
Yet, growing weary of pills and physicianing,
Off to the Arctic you packed, expeditioning.
Roving and dreaming, Ambition, that heady sin,
Gave you a spirit too restless for medicine:
That, I presume, as Romance is the quest of us,
Made you an Author-the same as the rest of us.
Ah, but the rest of us clamor distressfully,
"How do you manage the game so successfully?
Tell us, disclose to us how under Heaven you
Squeeze from the inkpot so splendid a revenue!"
Then, when you'd published your volume that vindicates
England's South African raid (or the Syndicate's),
Pleading that Britain's extreme bellicosity
Wasn't (as most of us think) an atrocity
Straightaway they gave you a cross with a chain to it
(Oh, what an honor! I could not attain to it,
Not if I lived to the age of Methusalem!)
Made you a knight of St. John of Jerusalem!
Faith! as a teller of tales you've the trick with you!
Still there's a bone I've been wanting to pick with you:
Holmes is your hero of drama and serial:
All of us know where you dug the material!
Whence he was moulded-'tis almost a platitude;
Yet your detective, in shameless ingratitude
Sherlock your sleuthhound with motives ulterior
Sneers at Poe's "Dupin" as "very inferior!"
Labels Gaboriau's clever "Lecoq," indeed,
Merely "a bungler," a creature to mock, indeed!
This, when your plots and your methods in story owe
More than a trifle to Poe and Gaboriau,
Sets all the Muses of Helicon sorrowing.
Borrow, Sir Knight, but in decent borrowing!
Still let us own that your bent is a cheery one,
Little you've written to bore or to weary one,
Plenty that's slovenly, nothing with harm in it,
Give me detective with brains analytical
Rather than weaklings with morals mephitical
Stories of battles and man's intrepidity
Rather than wails of neurotic morbidity!
Give me adventures and fierce dinotheriums
Rather than Hewlett's ecstatic deliriums!
Frankly, Sir Conan, some hours I've eased with you
And, on the whole, I am pretty well pleased with you”
Arthur Guiterman

“Good art-writers break conventions, hold a few sacrosanct, innovate their own. They measure their limits by instinct, not by rote. Mostly they learn by seeing miles of art, and reading good literature in bulk. There is no substitute, for a writer, for possessing a natural ear for language; a rich vocabulary; a flair for varied sentence structures; an original opinion; some arresting ideas to share. I can teach you none of that.”
Gilda Williams, How to Write About Contemporary Art

Robert Henri
“Don’t ask for a criticism until you are sure you can’t give it yourself. Then you will be in a fine state to receive it.”
Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

Thomm Quackenbush
“In the best of circumstances, I am boorish enough to tell artists that I best like pieces that look like things. I am not to be trusted with my edification.”
Thomm Quackenbush, Holidays with Bigfoot

Leticia Supple
“The defining elements of criticism, the theory, the philosophy, and ideas behind it, are the same no matter what type of critique you're writing.”
Leticia Supple, Music Journalism 101

“Beauty is a call to admiration, not to action.”
Ingrid Sischy, Nothing Is Lost: Selected Essays of Ingrid Sischy

“I write about my own work because I want to speak for myself. I might not be the only authority, nor the best authority, but I want to participate in the writing of my own history. Why should artists be validated by outside authorities. I don't like being paternalism and colonised by every Tom, Dick or Harry that comes along (male or female).”
Marlene Dumas, Sweet Nothings: Notes And Texts

“I write about my own work because I want to speak for myself. I might not be the only authority, nor the best authority, but I want to participate in the writing of my own history. Why should artists be validated by outside authorities. I don't like being paternalised and colonised by every Tom, Dick or Harry that comes along (male or female).”
Marlene Dumas, Sweet Nothings. Notes and Texts