Here are the quotations from artists, writers, philosophers and more generally – people of thought that I find expressive and helpful.

I found them in books/articles I read; let me know if you would like to research the authors’ work deeper, I can supply you with more details.

They lead me on my way and help to overcome difficulties.

This page is in a continuous development as I’ve been adding new positions almost each day.

Please, don’t mind the chaos – I’m going to segregate them one day (though I like the way they appear – randomly and spontaneously).


  • The title is sometimes more important than the image itself… The banality of objects can be very meaningful… I am not into aesthetics; I am into meaning and necessity… Paintings were the first transmitters… It really has something to do with having control over things… Luc Tuymans

  • There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into sun. Pablo Picasso
  • I feel at home in my own imaginary. I live in a world of my own, a planet with portraits and landscapes far too pretty to be called “modern art”. Patrick Woodroffe
  • But here, today, we still have the right to choose (…) Choice implies responsibility to one’s conscience, and, in the conscience of the artist, the Truth of Art is foremost. There may be other loyalties, but for the artist, unless he has been waylaid or distracted, they will be secondary and discarded in his creation of art. This artistic conscience, which is composed of present reason and memory, this moralistic intrinsic to the generic logic of art itself, is inescapable. Violate her promptings and she will be ferret out the deepest recesses of thought and conjecture. Neither sophistries nor rationalization can quiet her demands. Mark Rothko
  • The progression of a painter’s work travels in time from point to point, will be forward clarity. Toward the elimination of all obstacles between the painter and the idea, and the idea and the observer. To achieve this clarity is inevitably to be understood. M.Rothko
  • There is no such thing as a good painting about nothing. M. Rothko
  • It is our function as artists to make the spectator see world our way, not his way. M. Rothko
  • Subject is crucial and only that subject matter is valid which is tragic and timeless. M. Rothko
  • A young painter who cannot liberate himself from the influence of past generations is digging his own grave. Henri Matisse
  • I never saw an ugly thing in my life: for let the form of an object be what it may, – light, shade, and perspective will always make it beautiful. John Constable

  • Drawing is not a mysterious activity. Drawing is making an image which expresses commitment and involvement. (…) And, whether by scrapping off or rubbing down, it is always beginning again, making new images, destroying images that lie, discarding images that are dead. The only true guide in this search is the special relationship of absorption and internalization, the artist has with the person or landscape from which he is working. Leon Kossoff

  • Film is often just business — I understand that and it’s not something I concern myself with. But if film aspires to be part of culture, it should do the things great literature, music and art do: elevate the spirit, help us understand ourselves and the world around us and give people the feeling they are not alone. Krzysztof Kieslowski (Polish director)

  • You can never do too much drawing. J. Tintoretto

  • Have no fear of perfection. You will never reach it. Salvador Dali

  • Two qualities of a work of art? It must be indescribable and must be inimitable. P.A. Renoir

  • Don’t imagine that art is something which is designed to give gentle uplift and self-assurance. Art is not a brassiere. J. Barnes

  • “The moment you think you understand a work of art it’s dead for you.” Oscar Wilde

  • Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. A. Einstein

  • A painting is never finished. It simply stops in interesting places. P. Gardner

  • What I’m not hoping to do is to paint another picture, because there are enough pictures on the world. I’m hoping to do a new thing for the world that remains in mind like a new species of living thing… Frank Auerbach

  • All good painting enters some sort of freedom where it exists by its own laws, and inexplicably has got free of all possible explanations. Possibly the explainers will catch up with it again, but never completely… Frank Auerbach

  • Good pictures do attack fact from an unfamiliar point of view. They are bound to look genuine, and in some way rawly and actively repellent, disturbing and itchy and right. I wouldn’t reject anything that seemed shocking or extreme, but I would value it. However I wouldn’t do this for its own sake. Frank Auerbach

  • I think there’s a real barrier between a painter who is arranging things on a surface for their own sake and the sort of painter who has a permanent sense of a tangible world. Frank Auerbach

  • Robert Frost … said: “I want the poem to be like ice on a stove – riding on his own melting.” Well, a great painting is like ice on a stove. It’s a shape riding on his own melting into matter and space, it never stops moving backwards and forwards. Frank Auerbach
  • Creative minds have been known to survive any sort of bad training. Anna Freud
  • Seek the strongest color effect possible.. the content is of no importance. Henri Matisse

  • Most of those who call themselves artists are in reality picture dealers, only they make the pictures themselves. Samuel Butler

  • To draw, you must close your eyes and sing. Pablo Picasso

  • Painting is a blind man’s profession. He paints not what he sees, but what he feels, what he tells himself about what he has seen. Pablo Picasso

  • There is nothing harder to learn than painting and nothing which most people take less trouble about learning. An art school is a place where about three people work with feverish energy and everybody else idles to a degree that I should have conceived unattainable by human nature. G.K. Chesterton

  • Skill without imagination is craftsmanship and gives us many useful objects such as wickerwork picnic baskets. Imagination without skill gives us modern art. Tom Stoppard

  • A painting requires a little mystery, some vagueness, some fantasy. When you always make your meaning perfectly plain you end up boring people. Edgar Degas

  • From the moment that art ceases to be food that feeds the best minds, the artist can use his talents to perform all the tricks of the intellectual charlatan. The ‘refined,’ the rich, the professional ‘do-nothings’, the distillers of quintessence desire only the peculiar, the sensational, the eccentric, the scandalous in today’s art. I myself, since the advent of Cubism, have fed these fellows what they wanted and satisfied these critics with all the ridiculous ideas that have passed through my mind. The less they understood them, the more they admired me. Through amusing myself with all these absurd farces, I became celebrated, and very rapidly. For a painter, celebrity means sales and consequent affluence. Today, as you know, I am celebrated, I am rich. But when I am alone, I do not have the effrontery to consider myself an artist at all, not in the grand old meaning of the word: Giotto, Titian, Rembrandt, Goya were great painters. I am only a public clown–a mountebank. I have understood my time and have exploited the imbecility, the vanity, the greed of my contemporaries. It is a bitter confession, this confession of mine, more painful than it may seem. But at least and at last it does have the merit of being honest. Pablo Picasso (1957)

  • What marks the artist is his power to shape the material of the pain we all have. Lionel Trilling

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

  • In fact, whatever exists in the universe, in essence, in appearance, in the imagination, the painter has first in his mind and then in his hands … it lies in his power to create them . . . Leonardo Da Vinci

  • Art is made to disturb. Science reassures. There is only one valuable thing in art: the thing you cannot explain. Georges Braque

  • The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web. Pablo Picasso

  • Painting is stronger than I am. It can make me do whatever it wants. Pablo Picasso

  • There is nothing more difficult for a truly creative painter than to paint a rose, because before he can do so he has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted. Henry Matisse

  • I am not an abstract painter. I am not interested in the relationship between form and color. The only thing I care about is the expression of man’s basic emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, destiny. Mark Rothko

  • A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament. Its beauty comes from the fact that the author is what he is. It has nothing to do with the fact that other people want what they want. Indeed, the moment that an artist takes notice of what other people want, and tries to supply the demand, he ceases to be an artist, and becomes a dull or an amusing craftsman, an honest or dishonest tradesman. He has no further claim to be considered as an artist. Oscar Wilde

  • The role of the artist, of course, has always been that of image-maker. Different times require different images. Today when our aspirations have been reduced to a desperate attempt to escape from evil, and times are out of joint, our obsessive, subterranean and pictographic images are the expression of the neurosis which is our reality. To my mind certain so-called abstraction is not abstraction at all. On the contrary, it is the realism of our time. Mark Rothko

  • Pictures must be miraculous. Mark Rothko

  • We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth, at least the truth that is given to us to understand. Pablo Picasso

  • When I am in my painting, I’m not aware of what I’m doing. It’s only after a sort of “get acquainted” period that I see what I have been about. I have no fears about making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own. Jackson Pollock

  • I have painted almost 1,200 pictures. More than 2,500 of them are in the USA. Henri Matisse

  • I want to paint stunning pictures that you can sell for very high prices. Pierre-Auguste Renoir, to art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel

  • Art is an adventure into an unknown world, which can be explored only by those willing to take the risks. Mark Rothko

  • I think Art also has become too mixed. Science is mixing with Art and theatre and performance and television… There’s no such thing as ‘painting’ anymore. Painting will come back – because there’s no computer or camera that can produce an oil painting. Peter Howson

  • I often hear the word “evolution”. Repeatedly I am asked to explain how my painting evolved. To me there is no past or future of art. If a work of art cannot live always in the present must not be considered at all.Pablo Picasso

  • To put down an ideogram of a table so that people will recognise it as a table is not the work of a painter, but to sense it for a moment as a magic carpet with a leg hanging don at each corner is the beginning of a painter’s imagination, and there would be a million ways of sensing this table on the floor, this invisible box. This is where the painter’s imagination begins and this is what a painter’s imagination is. It’s not a question of fancy dress, or symbolic objects. It’s this reinvention of the physical world, and everything else comes from that. Frank Auerbach

  • If you gaze into an abyss long enough, the abyss will gaze back into you. F. Nietzsche
  • He who is a teacher from the very heart takes all things seriously only with reference to his students – even himself. F. Nietzsche
  • He who attains his ideal by that very fact transcends it. F. Nietzsche
  • Behind a remarkable scholar one not infrequently finds a mediocre man, and behind a mediocre artist often – a very remarkable man. F. Nietzsche
  • That which is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil. F. Nietzsche

3 responses to “Theory

  • artos


  • Mark Reid

    I like some of your quotes from artists Katarzyna. I thought you might interested in these from Goethe. Are you aware of his work in the sciences and particularly light and colour? Turner, my favourite artist, was very influenced by his colour theory. Anyway enjoy the quotes:

    Art is long, life is short, judgement difficult, opportunity transient. (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

    A genuine work of art usually displeases at first sight, as it suggests a deficiency in the spectator. (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

    Art will always be art. (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

    We should talk less and draw more. Personally I would like to renounce speech altogether, and like organic nature, communicate everything I have to say in sketches. (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
    Beauty is everywhere a welcome guest. (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
    A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul. (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

    Art is constitutive – the artist determines beauty. He does not take it over. (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
    The artist alone sees spirits. But after he has told of their appearing to him, everybody sees them. (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
    Every beginning is cheerful. (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
    One of the most striking signs of the decay of art is when we see its separate forms jumbled together. (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

    and my favourite:

    Colours are the deeds of light, its deeds and sufferings. (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

  • skonieczna

    Thank you for your comments. I do enjoy Goethe indeed…still remember like his ‘Faust’ blew my mind away when I was still a naive kid in my teens (I should say ‘less naive’ than now). It’s interesting to see like that the great writers and philosophers usually bother to make their comments on art… After all, who said that ‘art is too important to be left to artists and art critics’? This quote is one of my favourites… All the best to you.

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