I use a lot of quotes in my work, and over the years, I've collected a ton of them about art. I recently did a set of pages in a friend's altered book, using quotes that began "art is" as the background. It's amazing how many artists have tried their hand at defining exactly what art is, and what it isn't.
Feel free to use these quotes to help spark your next piece, or as journal prompts. Or maybe, to encourage you to try to put into your own words exactly what art is.
A – C
Art is whatever you choose to frame.
Art is magic delivered from the lie of being truth.
Art is about paying attention.
Art is an experience, not the formulation of a problem.
Art is an intersection of many human needs.
Art completes what nature cannot bring to finish.
Art is a fruit that grows in man, like a fruit on a plant, or a child in its mother's womb.
Art is our chief means of breaking bread with the dead.
W. H. Auden
Art is an international language, understood by all.
Art is like therapy; what comes up is what comes up.
Art is man's distinctly human way of fighting death.
Art is the tree of life.
Art is frozen zen.
Reginald H. Blyth
Art is manipulation without intervention.
Art is the only thing that can go on mattering once it has stopped hurting.
Art is everywhere, and everywhere is art.
Art is a sense of magic.
Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.
Art is a real thing. Art is the soul of the whisper of the cloud on the horizon.
Peter William Brown
Art is born in attention. Its midwife is detail.
Art is the product of the untalented, sold by the unprincipled to the confused.
Art is a harmony parallel with nature.
Art is the unceasing effort to compete with the beauty of flowers, and never succeeding.
Art is a liaison between some sort of deranged mentality and others who are not going through it.
Art is the triumph over chaos.
Art is science made clear.
Art is not a pastime but a priesthood.
Art is ruled uniquely by the imagination.
D – K
Art is never finished, only abandoned.
Leonardo da Vinci
Art is wine, and experience is the brandy we distill from it.
Art is the most beautiful of all lies.
Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.
Art is really a battle.
Art is like an ill-trained Labrador retriever that drags you out into traffic.
Art is the stored honey of the human soul, gathered on wings of misery and travail.
Art is the most passionate orgy within man's grasp.
Art is the one thing that speaks to everyone.
Art is the escape from personality.
T. S. Eliot
Art is the path of the creator to his work.
Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Art is a jealous mistress.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Art is a mad search for individualism.
Art is either plagiarism or revolution.
Art is a form of love. Art is the ultimate gift. Art heals life.
Art is a pigment of your imagination.
Art is a step from what is obvious and well-known toward what is arcane and concealed.
Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does, the better.
Art is the beginning of vision into the realm of eternal life.
Art is an outsider, a gypsy over the face of the earth.
Ars longa. Vita brevis.
Art is long. Life is short.
Art is not a thing, it is a way.
Art is love.
Art is created to live and to be seen and felt.
Art is the great democrat, calling forth creative genius from every sector of society, disregarding race or religion or wealth or color.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Art is man's expression of his joy in labor.
Henry A. Kissinger
Art is a line around your thoughts.
Art is a humanitarian act. Art should be able to effect mankind, to make the world a better place.
L – P
Art is a by-product of an act of total attention.
Art is an action against death. It is a denial of death.
Art is the child of Nature.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Art is to the community what the dream is to the individual.
Art is about mystery.
Art is an effort to create, besides the real world, a more human world.
Art is not a matter of life and death. It's much more important than that.
Art is what you can get away with.
Art is a jealous thing; it requires the whole and entire man.
Art is living stopped for a moment of wonder.
Kenneth G. Mills
Art is not to do with the practical side of making a living. It's to live a fuller human life.
Art is not made for anybody and is, at the same time, for everybody.
Art is much less important than life, but what a poor life without it.
Art is an epiphany in a coffee cup.
Art is the sex of the imagination.
George Jean Nathan
Art is essentially the affirmation, the blessing, and the deification of existence.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
Art is the proper task of life.
Art is the journey of a free soul.
Art is my life and my life is art.
Art is always, even at its most repulsive, an impassioned cry of love.
Art is the dominstration that the ordinary is extraordinary.
Art is the expression of the immortal part of man.
Art is a form of catharsis.
Art is a lie which makes us see the truth.
Art is the elimination of the unnecessary.
Art is a kind of illness.
R – Z
Art is an indecent exposure of the consciousness.
Art is not imitation, but illusion
Art is art. Everything else is everything else.
Art is not the bread, but the wine of life.
John Paul Richter
Art is contemplation.
Art is what is unnecessary, but necessary only to that artist.
Art is a delayed echo.
Art is the right hand of nature. The latter only gave us being, but the former made us men.
Art is the daughter of freedom.
Art is the signature of civilizations.
Art is like a border of flowers along the course of civilization.
Art is nature seen in the light of its formal significance.
Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.
Art is not a pleasure, a solace, or an amusement; art is great matter.
Art is the soul and spirit of each generation to be passed along to the next and beyond.
Art is the only means by which one soul can truly touch another.
Art is what's left over after you've defined everything else.
Art is not a competitive sport.
Art is a Verb, not a Noun.
Art is the thrilling spark that beats death – that's all.
Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.
Art is making something out of nothing and selling it.