Famous Artist Quotes

Inspirational quotes by famous artists to spark your creativity!


“Creativity takes courage.”

— Henri Matisse


The mind of the creative genius is a strange and wonderful thing. Not only have great artists created great works of art that have shaped culture and the human experience for centuries, they also have interesting insights as to why they do what they do. Perhaps some of these insights may help spur your own thoughts about art, and help you on your own creative journey!


Some artists see art as a type of dialogue:

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

Edward Hopper

— Edward Hopper


“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way—things I had no words for.”

Georgia O'Keeffe

— Georgia O’Keeffe


“Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.”

Pablo Picasso

— Pablo Picasso


“The emotions are sometimes so strong that I work without knowing it. The strokes come like speech.”

Vincent van Gogh

— Vincent van Gogh


The way they describe substituting a paintbrush for a pen demonstrates how similar the branches of the arts can be. It’s not so much about being a painter or a writer; they are two beasts of the same species. We could also guess that creativity of all types essentially draws from the same well of genius.

Other artists have described the purpose of their work rather eloquently:

“The object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity.”

Alberto Giacometti

— Alberto Giacometti


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

Pablo Picasso

— Pablo Picasso


“An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision.”

James McNeill Whistler

— James McNeill Whistler


It seems they are saying art is a way of sharing a perspective, through a visual medium, one that can last forever.

Piet Mondrian had a peculiar take on it. He classifies creating art almost as a spiritual experience, as though there is a greater Being doing the work. It is an incredibly passive stance.

“The position of the artist is humble. He is essentially a channel.”

Piet Mondrian

— Piet Mondrian


Although, in a way it echoes what these other famous artists have said:

Rembrandt van Rijn

“Painting is the grandchild of nature. It is related to God.”

— Rembrandt van Rijn

Other artists have described their subjects. Of course, it would be difficult to take what they say literally:

Jackson Pollock

“Every good painter paints what he is.”

— Jackson Pollock


Frida Kahlo

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

— Frida Kahlo


If so, we would have to infer that Pollock is a series of paint splatters, Kahlo something much more macabre.

But Cézanne truly enlightens us on the origins of art.

Paul Cezanne

“A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art.”

— Paul Cézanne


By using the term “art“, Cézanne broadens the topic beyond just painting, although he was a very famous painter. Instead, he includes all forms of creative genius. If they all draw from the same well, it must be a deep water made of intense feelings, as light and dark as the end results.

What do you think? Do any of these famous artist quotes resonate with your beliefs about art? Are there other quotes that do? Or do you have an art quote of your own? Let us know in the comments below!




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