Artists’ quotes about the artist’s craft

Since the middle of the last century one of the great debates of intellectuality and academy has been about the exact definition of the term “artist”. Debate this one that is always accompanied by the eternal philosophical dissertation about what art is, and which in recent times has grown due to the attempt of show business to seize this word to name its celebrities.


In this sense, we want to expose five of the phrases that have been endorsed by some of the greatest intellectuals over the condition of the artist in recent times, in the attempt to try to rescue and define this word, which refers to the noble office to exercise art. Below artists’ phrases about “the artist”:

Albert Camus

“The artist must always be with those who suffer history, not with those who do it.” (Albert Camus)

In a purely political speech, this French writer marks in the first instance a division between those who “make history” and among those who “suffer” the history that the former make, in which we can see the well-known class division between powerful-oppressors – who, according to Camus’s phrase, carry the threads and mark the historical paths through which all must walk – and the oppressed, who have nothing left but to suffer the decisions made by the powerful.

Exposed this social panorama, composed of the eternal dichotomy of oppressors-oppressed, in the opinion of Albert Camus the artist has a social responsibility, which would force him to always be on the side of the oppressed, and not of the powerful.

Wassily Kandinski

“The artist is the hand that, by means of a key and again, makes the human soul vibe properly.” (Wassily Kandinski)

In this sentence, Kandiski refers to what the ancient Greeks called Beauty, for according to the Hellenics was this responsible for making the soul vibrate, when the human was facing something that evoked the beautiful.

This renowned painter then defines the “artist” as that agency or channel by which beauty manages to materialize and take a form in the world producing the shudder of the human soul, which vibrates in the face of the possible abduction of the beautiful.

“A painter is a man who paints what he sells. An artist, on the other hand, is a man who sells what he paints.” (Pablo Picasso)

For his part, Pablo Picasso brings to the stage a situation that has become a topic of constant discussion in the artistic fields, since art or works of art began to be a highly marketable value.

In this sense for the Spanish artist there is a big difference between the one who directs his painting to satisfy the tastes of the public, thus reflecting what is at the moment “fashionable”, in which case Picasso gives it the name “painter”, while on another side points out that the real “artist” doesn´t need to follow trends or respond to tastes, because his work alone will begin to be sought by the public, because by authentic branding such trends and tastes. Thus we already see the differences of definitions that begin to emerge between art and the world of trade.

Oscar Wilde

“No great artist sees things as they really are. If I did, I’d stop being an artist.” (Oscar Wilde)

We also have the writer Oscar Wilde who is this sentence refers to the look that an artist must have to be. In this sense, Wilde speaks of the “missed” condition with which the artist must see the world in order to capture it, represent it, emulate it or transform it into his works.

In this way, the artist must be able to see an object, situation or person differently from the rest of the humans, that is, he must be able to imagine other possible forms, images or outcomes on something that for others is simply what is seen with the naked eye. Otherwise you will not be able to create other realities based on this.

Alejandro Dolina

“The work can’t be better than the artist.” (Alejandro Dolina)

For his part, this Argentine writer points out the ethical and moral commitment that must be in every artist, because there cannot or should not be a dissociation between what transmits or preaches the work of art and the behavior or true nature of the person who creates it.

While this is not the case in all cases, and we can find for example great romantic poets who in their real life don´t live or feel what they write – according to some art can also be a way of living what we don’t really have – apparently , Dolina refers to an ideal ethical state where the artist stands only one with his work. An ideal world where the artist is integral and his behavior proportional to those he creates.

Image source: romoletto.alervista.org

Artists’ quotes about the artist’s craft
Source: Education  
August 28, 2019


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