45 Brilliant Quotes About Art From Famous Artists and Great Creative Minds

Quotes About Art

Many people turn to the portfolios of prolific artists, writers, and other creatives when seeking artistic inspiration. In addition to their powerful bodies of work, however, it is also worth listening to the words spoken, written, and shared by these influential figures. Many creatives offer quotes about art in an effort to inform their audience and impart their wisdom to artistic hopefuls.

When you take a look at some of the most powerful prose spoken by well-known creatives—from Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh to Bob Ross and Basquiat—it's clear to see how profoundly knowledgeable they are. Ranging from explorations about the meaning of art to presentations of their own motivational mantras, these quotes about art prove the creative power and potential of words.

Here are some inspiring art quotes from some of history's most creative figures.

On the Meaning of Art

Quotes About Art

Gustav Klimt, 1914 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)

“Art is a line around your thoughts.” – Gustav Klimt

“To be an artist is to believe in life.” – Henry Moore

“Art evokes the mystery without which the world would not exist.” – René Magritte

“Art should be something that liberates your soul, provokes the imagination and encourages people to go further.” – Keith Haring

Quotes About Art

George Inness, 1890 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” – Pablo Picasso

“The true use of art is, first, to cultivate the artist’s own spiritual nature.” – George Inness

“The principles of true art is not to portray, but to evoke.” – Jerzy Kosinski

“Great art picks up where nature ends.” – Marc Chagall


On Finding Inspiration

Art Quotes

Claude Monet, 1899 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)

“The richness I achieve comes from nature, the source of my inspiration.” – Claude Monet

“If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint.” – Edward Hopper

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until i set him free.” – Michelangelo

“Before I start carving the idea must be almost complete. I say ‘almost' because the really important thing seems to be the sculptor's ability to let his intuition guide him over the gap between conception and realization without compromising the integrity of the original idea.”- Barbara Hepworth

Quotes About Art

Frida Kahlo, 1932 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)

“I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality.” – Frida Kahlo

“If the artist has outer and inner eyes for nature, nature rewards him by giving him inspiration.” – Wassily Kandinsky

“What moves those of genius, what inspires their work, is not new ideas, but their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough.” – Eugene Delacroix

“It is not so much where my motivation comes from but rather how it manages to survive.” – Louise Bourgeois


On Creating Great Art

Art Quotes

Ansel Adams, ca. 1950 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” – Ansel Adams

“The works must be conceived with fire in the soul but executed with clinical coolness.” – Joan Miró

“To my mind one does not put oneself in place of the past, one only adds a new link.” – Paul Cézanne

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” – Aristotle

Art Quotes

Paul Gauguin, 1891 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)

“I shut my eyes in order to see.” – Paul Gauguin

“The main thing is to be moved, to love, to hope, to tremble, to live.” – Auguste Rodin

“The beautiful, which is perhaps inseparable from art, is not after all tied to the subject, but to the pictorial representation. In this way and in no other does art overcome the ugly without avoiding it.” – Paul Klee

“Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art.” – Leonardo da Vinci

“I have a flood of ideas in my mind. I just follow my vision.” – Yayoi Kusama


When You Need a Boost

Quotes About Art

Georgia O'Keeffe, 1918 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)

“Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing.  Making your unknown known is the important thing.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

“Creativity takes courage.” – Henri Matisse

“Every artist was first an amateur.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I am independent! I can live alone and I love to work.” – Mary Cassatt

“Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot, others transform a yellow spot into the sun.” – Pablo Picasso

Art Quotes

Salvador Dalí, 1939 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)

“The artist is not a different kind of person, but every person is a different kind of artist.” – Eric Gill

“Have no fear of perfection, you'll never reach it.” – Salvador Dalí

“We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.” – Bob Ross

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” – Sylvia Plath

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” – Vincent van Gogh


Reminders to Stay Creative

Famous Artist Quotes

Pablo Picasso, 1908 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” – Pablo Picasso

“Don’t think about making art, just get it done.  Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it.  While they are deciding, make even more art.” – Andy Warhol

“I want to make paintings that look as if they were made by a child.” – Jean-Michel Basquiat

“Art is never finished, only abandoned.” – Leonardo Da Vinci

“Art is the proper task of life. The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Famous Artist Quotes

Oscar Wilde, 1882 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)

“The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery.” – Francis Bacon

“No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist.” – Oscar Wilde

“Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.” – Edgar Degas

“One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself.” – Leonardo da Vinci

“There are no rules. That is how art is born, how breakthroughs happen. Go against the rules or ignore the rules. That is what invention is about.” – Helen Frankenthaler


We hope you have enjoyed these inspiring and insightful quotes about art!


This article has been edited and updated.

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Kelly Richman-Abdou

Kelly Richman-Abdou is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. An art historian living in Paris, Kelly was born and raised in San Francisco and holds a BA in Art History from the University of San Francisco and an MA in Art and Museum Studies from Georgetown University. When she’s not writing, you can find Kelly wandering around Paris, whether she’s leading a tour (as a guide, she has been interviewed by BBC World News America and France 24) or simply taking a stroll with her husband and two tiny daughters.
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