I tend to take quotes with a bit of skepticism, especially online quotes. Sometimes they are correctly attributed; at other times, it’s questionable as to whether that individual actually said those words and whether or not he or she said them exactly as quoted. Still, quotes are popular items, especially when they agree with our own opinions!
Quotes can not only affirm our pre-existing beliefs and give support to our thoughts, they can also make us a bit reflective, making us look at the world around us — or at ourselves — from a slightly different point of view.
Quotes can also be amusing and entertaining. Quotes can make us laugh, and laughter is always a good thing. So maybe here I should share my all-time favorite quote:
If you can laugh at it, you can live with it.
I have no idea who supposedly first said those words, but I do know that I’ve drawn upon that pithy advice at many times in my life.
The art world is filled with inspiring quotes. As I’ve put together pages for my art journal, I’ve sometimes browsed a bit to find appropriate quotes about art and life. Some “art quotes” are purportedly by very famous artists, such as “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up,” which is attributed to Pablo Picasso. Maybe he said it, maybe not.
Another oft-quoted remark is from Degas, who tells us that “Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.” I tend to agree with that, and I think Degas actually did say that. He’s also said to have said that “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” Yeah, I can go along with that one, too.
A quote I recently borrowed for a page in my art journal comes from T-shirt designer Matheus Lopes Castro: “Art speaks where words are unable to explain.” Yes, I used the quote. No, I’m not sure I agree completely. Being a writer more than an artist, I’m quite comfortable — and capable, I believe — at explaining myself with words. Still, there’s something mystical and magical about art, and the quote seemed appropriate at the time.
Another interesting quote I found and saved is this one:
John W. Gardner was an educator, a public official serving in the Johnson administration in the 1960’s and a political reformer. As far as I know, he was not a visual artist, but he wrote books on personal excellence. His idea that “life is the art of drawing without an eraser” is thought-provoking. Life can be compared to art in many ways. Or art can be compared to life. It’s about taking chances, about expressing oneself, about living fully and daring to dream.
Browsing online has led me to many more thoughtful, inspiring, entertaining quotes about art.
“Creativity takes courage.” – Henri Matisse
“A picture is a poem without words.” – Horace
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” – Thomas Merton
Maybe my personal favorite is this quip from Calvin and Hobbes — a cartoon strip by Bill Watterson — on the pretentiousness of the contemporary art world. Calvin remarks:
“People always make the mistake of thinking art is created for them. But really, art is a private language for sophisticates to congratulate themselves on their superiority to the rest of the world. As my artist’s statement explains, my work is utterly incomprehensible and is therefore full of deep significance.”
And then there’s Calvin’s stuffed tiger, Hobbes, (named after philosopher Thomas Hobbes) who is certain that “Van Gogh would have sold more than one painting if he’d put tigers in them.”
What’s your favorite quote about art and life?