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Best quotes about art by famous artists

Check out our select list of the best quotes about art by nine of history’s most famous painters and sculptors

By Howard Halle

When it comes to making art, the whole point is to show rather than tell. After all, a picture is supposed to be worth 1,000 words, so it’s no surprise that most artists prefer to leave the talking to their work. But that doesn’t mean artists never say what’s on their minds. Indeed, some of art history’s most famous figures (many of whom are represented in the collections of The Met, MoMA and the Guggenheim) have weighed in on any number of topics. But they’ve been especially eloquent on the subject of art and its ineffable qualities—as you’ll see in our list of the best quotes about art by famous artists

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Best quotes about art by famous artists

Courtesy Wiki Media/CC/Art by Leonardo da Vinci

1. Leonardo da Vinci

“Art is never finished, only abandoned.”

Daniele da Volterra, Portrait of Michelangelo, ca. 1544
Photograph: Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art/Gift of Clarence Dillon

2. Michelangelo

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

Photograph: Filmsonor/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

3. Pablo Picasso

“Good artists copy, great artists steal.”

 Alvin Langdon Coburn, Henri Matisse, 1913
Photograph: Courtesy The New York Public Library/Alvin Langdon Coburn/Men of Mark

4. Henri Matisse

“I don’t paint things. I only paint the difference between things.”

Photograph: ROBERT KRADIN/AP/REX/Shutterstock

5. Salvador Dali

“A true artist is not one who is inspired, but one who inspires others.” 

Photograph: Gallo Images/REX/Shutterstock

6. Georgia O'Keeffe

“I hate flowers. I paint them because they're cheaper than models and they don't move.”

Photograph: AP/REX/Shutterstock

7. Frida Kahlo

“To paint is the most terrific thing that there is, but to do it well is very difficult.”

Consuelo Kanaga, Mark Rothko, Yorktown Heights, ca. 1949
Photograph: Courtesy Brooklyn Museum/Gift of Wallace B. Putnam from the Estate of Consuelo Kanaga

8. Mark Rothko

“A painting is not a picture of an experience, but is the experience.”

Photograph: Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock

9. Andy Warhol

“Art is what you can get away with.”

Photograph: Courtesy Yayoi Kusama

10. Yayoi Kusama

“People ask about art and commercialism. I think that if someone tries to sell their work at a high price, that is the wrong way of doing it.”

Photograph: Steve Eichner/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock

11. Cindy Sherman

“Believing in one’s own art becomes harder and harder when the public response grows fonder.”

Photograph: Billy Farrell/BFA/REX/Shutterstock

12. Kara Walker

“The artist is like an abuser of everything, picture, history, and other people.”

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