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Gilbert Keith Chesterton

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A man cannot be wise enough to be a great artist without being wise enough to wish to be a philosopher. A man cannot have the energy to produce good art without having the energy to wish to pass beyond it. A small artist is content with art; a great artist is content with nothing except everything

Gilbert Keith Chesterton

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The artist, however faithful to his personal vision of reality, becomes the last champion of the individual mind and sensibility against an intrusive society and an officious state. The great artist is thus a solitary figure. He has, as Frost said, a lover's quarrel with the world. In pursuing his perceptions of reality, he must often sail against the currents of his time. This is not a popular role. If Robert Frost was much honored in his lifetime, it was because a good many preferred to ignore his darker truths. Yet in retrospect, we see how the artist's fidelity has strengthened the fibre of our national life. If sometimes our great artist have been the most critical of our society, it is because their sensitivity and their concern for justice, which must motivate any true artist, makes him aware that our Nation falls short of its highest potential. I see little of more importance to the future of our country and our civilization than full recognition of the place of the artist.

John F. Kennedy

An artist must pass judgment only on what he understands; his range is limited as that of any other specialist—that's what I keep repeating and insisting upon. Anyone who says that the artist's field is all answers and no questions has never done any writing or had any dealings with imagery. An artist observes, selects, guesses and synthesizes.

Anton Chekhov

'Now, it's just occurred to me that we're missing something crucial. Ah, yes, an artist! Bugg, have we a court artist? We need an artist! Find us an artist! Nobody move!'

Steven Erikson

It is ordinarily only a single work, or a single suite of works, which stamps the individual artist as a classic poet, artist, and so on. The same individual may have produces a great many different things, none of which stands in any relation to the classic. Homer has, for example, written a Batrachomyomachia, but this poem has not made him classic or immortal. To say that this is due to the insignificance of the subject is foolish, since the classic depends on perfect balance. If everything that determines a production as classic were to be found solely in the creative artist, then everything produced by him would have to be a classic, in a since similar to, though higher than, that in which bees always produce uniform kind of cells. To explain this by saying that he was more successful on the one case than the other, would be to explain exactly nothing. For, partly, it would be only a pretentious tautology, which only too often in life enjoys the honor of being regarded as an answer; partly, considered as an answer, it lies in another relativity than the one concerning which our question was asked. For it tells us nothing about the relation between form and content, and at best could be taken into account in connection with an inquiry into the formative activity alone.


The modern artist is living in a mechanical age and we have a mechanical means of representing objects in nature such as the camera and photograph. The modern artist, it seems to me, is working and expressing an inner world – in other words – expressing the energy, the motion and the other inner forces... the modern artist is working with space and time, and expressing his feelings rather than illustrating.

Jackson Pollock
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