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Quotes about Meaning

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132 art quotes about Meaning found | Share this page of quotes about Meaning on Facebook

I am not a therapist. I am not a spiritual leader. These elements are in the art: it is therapeutic, spiritual, social and political - everything. It has many layers. But art has to have many layers. If it doesn't, then forget it. (Marina Abramovic)

The theatre was created to tell people the truth about life and the social situation. (Stella Adler)

A painting without a clarifying message is like wallpaper or just a clip of an image. (Samuel Adoquei)

There is nothing more meaningful than being true to yourself and finding your own voice. Follow your heart and don't let anyone discourage you. (Jane Fulton Alt)

Writers want to summarize: 'What does this mean? What did we learn from this?' That's a very 19th-century way of thinking about art, because it assumes that it should make our lives better or teach us something. (Laurie Anderson)

The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without it. (Anonymous)

Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it. (Hannah Arendt)

Primitive men perform apparently meaningless activities, while ascribing to them some cosmic significance; sophisticated men perform equally meaningless activities, while ascribing to them no significance whatsoever. (Jeffrey Armstrong)

Looking is the end of a painting in my view. If you want a message, go read a novel. (Douglas Atwill)

What answer to the meaning of existence should one require beyond the right to exercise one's gifts? (W. H. Auden)

Painting gave meaning to my life, which without it, it would not have had. (Francis Bacon)

When anything can be art, art is not much of anything. (Darby Bannard)

A storm becomes a story when things are battling against it. A beach can be entered into when a solitary walker is added to the scene. Even a few birds in flight in an empty landscape can still give the impression that life is happening. Life-signs make all the difference to a painting... (Mike Barr)

A picture is never anything but its own plural description. (Roland Barthes)

Art distills sensations and embodies it with enhanced meaning. (Jacques Barzun)

The power to perceive various meanings from a single stimulus serves free association and reinforces flexibility. (Miles G. Batt)

Everywhere one seeks to produce meaning, to make the world signify, to render it visible. We are not, however, in danger of lacking meaning; quite the contrary, we are gorged with meaning and it is killing us. (Jean Baudrillard)

There are only a few images that are not forced to provide meaning, or have to go through the filter of a specific idea. (Jean Baudrillard)

A huge component of the process of making art is the making of meaning – taking stimuli, sorting it, reconstructing it and communicating it. (Nicoletta Baumeister)

I certainly do not begin with any meaning. It is as though my hands do all the thinking. (Quentin Bell)

I try to make each stroke meaningful. (Keith Bond)

In the paintings I want to suggest decay, decay within a given persons morality, biological structure or sense of purpose. (Paul Brandford)

Thanks to the oval I have discovered the meaning of the horizontal and the vertical. (Georges Braque)

Content is the meaningful substance of the work. (Gerald Brommer)

A message is the difference between a painter and an artist. I can paint beautiful landscapes, but am I really saying anything? When my work has no message, I'm just a painter. I guess that's fine with me. (Brent Brown)

A painting doesn't have to have a profound meaning. It doesn't have to 'say' a word. We fall in love for simpler reasons. (Harley Brown)

There is a deep question whether the possible meanings that emerge from an effort to explain the experience of art may not mask the real meanings of a work of art. (Jerome Bruner)

We are simple-minded enough to think that if we were saying something we would use words. We are rather doing something. The meaning of what we do is determined by each one who sees and hears it. (John Cage)

The grand thing about the human mind is that it can turn its own tables and see meaninglessness as ultimate meaning. (John Cage)

If it adapts itself to what the majority of our society wants, art will be meaningless recreation. (Albert Camus)

Stories are best when they 'emerge' from the depths, and when built in a painting from early sketch through the three-act process to The End, it is a perfect pathway to the unconscious stories set in our dreamwork. (Bill Cannon)

You must be absolutely honest and true in the depicting of a totem, for meaning is attached to every line. You must be most particular about detail and proportion... (Emily Carr)

In order to give meaning to the world, one has to feel oneself involved in what he frames. This attitude requires concentration, a discipline of mind, sensitivity, and a sense of geometry. (Henri Cartier-Bresson)

To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event. (Henri Cartier-Bresson)

I am a greedy, selfish bastard. I want the fact that I existed to mean something. (Harry Chapin)

What really matters is the name you succeed in imposing on the facts – not the facts themselves. (Jerome Cohen)

Classical art stands for form; romantic art for content. (R. G. Collingwood)

The language of images [of inner-oriented artists] does not follow a code structure that is evident and widely accepted, but is more likely to be a complex of symbols that have a profound meaning for the artists themselves. (Kenneth Coutts-Smith)

The artist's meaning in the work is most often not experienced by the viewer or listener. It triggers an entirely new and different experience. I am not sure that all artists are comfortable with this notion. (Jack Dickerson)

Art addresses itself to the mind, and not to the eyes. It has always been considered in this way by primitive peoples, and they are right. (Jean Dubuffet)

You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget. (Eight-year-old)

All meanings, we know, depend on the key of interpretation. (George Eliot)

Every meaning is a projection of the viewer's inarticulate moods. (James Elkins)

It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing. (Duke Ellington)

- Color: A Natural History of the Palette...
What they signified was precious, but what they were was not. (Victoria Finlay)

I think we all wish we could make a strong statement in our paintings about something that touches us deeply... Often these statements are filled with such emotion they translate as anger. The world is much too full of anger as it is. (Gwen Fox)

What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him. (Viktor Frankl)

The meaning of a figurative work of art lies in its abstract organization. (Frederick Gore)

When people are finding meaning in things - beware. (Edward Gorey)

I don't get into 'becauses.' When you come into a studio you see a number of works. My habit is to go to the one I like most. If you start to say, 'because,' you get into art jargon. (Clement Greenberg)

You like it, that's all, whether it's a landscape or abstract. You like it. It hits you. You don't have to read it. (Clement Greenberg)

Part of the triumph of modernist poetry is, indeed, to have demonstrated the great extent to which verse can do without explicit meaning and yet not sacrifice anything essential to its effect as art. Here, as before, successful art can be depended upon to explain itself. (Clement Greenberg)

Some people have asked me if there is any serious or deep meaning to my work. I say, 'I hope not. There're already enough serious and deep meanings in the world to keep thousands of art critics busy.' (Joel Haas)

It doesn't matter if others can read the meaning, but it's fun to discover your own psyche tapping you on the shoulder. (Dianne Harrison)

The deeper the experience of an absence of meaning - in other words, of absurdity - the more energetically meaning is sought. (Vaclav Havel)

I work from a personal place, and the work has personal meaning for me. (Jim Hodges)

Meaning is not found in things; meaning is what you make of things. (Robert Holden)

Works of art... do not force meanings on their audience; meaning emerges, adds up, unfolds from their imagined centres... takes one through the process of discovering meaning. (Robert Hughes)

Some people like to paint trees. I like to paint love. I find it more meaningful than painting trees. (Robert Indiana)

I have no ideas about what the paintings imply about the world. I don't think that's a painter's business. He just paints paintings without a conscious reason. (Jasper Johns)

Vermeer goes beyond the art of symbols... stands back from social commentary; his women gaze out silently. (Jonathan Jones)

You can often give a better description of the fight between people, the essentials of it, by means of fantastic animals - the simple, primitive, naked instincts - than by depicting a specific situation. (Asger Jorn)

As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being. (Carl Gustav Jung)

The least of things with a meaning is worth more than the greatest of things without it. (Carl Gustav Jung)

The work itself has a complete circle of meaning and counterpoint. And without your involvement as a viewer, there is no story. (Anish Kapoor)

What one does in the studio is to pose a series of problems to oneself. I've got to look for some deeper meaning, for some reason for this thing to be in the world. There's enough stuff in the world. (Anish Kapoor)

The young artist... will discover out of ordinary things the meaning of ordinariness. He will not try to make them extraordinary. Only their real meaning will be stated. (Allan Kaprow)

It is unwise to use your art as a pulpit. That is best left to preachers, politicians and journalists... There is a glut of pious rants on canvas... (Sharon Knettell)

My art gets across the point that I'm in this morality theater trying to help the underdog, and I'm speaking socially here, showing concern and making psychological and philosophical statements for the underdog. (Jeff Koons)

What makes a painting meaningful is the spectacle of the ordinary content living together with the equally important life of the picture plane and the unity of the whole surface... it reflects a feeling that we all have a kind of nostalgia for... (Gillian Pederson Krag)

In the world of human thought generally, and in physical science particularly, the most important and fruitful concepts are those to which it is impossible to attach a well-defined meaning. (H. A. Kramers)

I'm an artist who works with pictures and words. Sometimes that stuff ends up in different kinds of sites and contexts which determine what it means and looks like. (Barbara Kruger)

The very meaninglessness of life forces man to create his own meaning. (Stanley Kubrick)

Paintings may not have nearly the power to convert people that the printed or spoken word has, but each man has his part to play in the human and divine drama - some persons just a few lines, others whole pages. To refuse to play one's role at all is not the answer. It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. (William Kurelek)

People want to find a 'meaning' in everything and everyone. That's the problem - there is no meaning in everything... (Andrew Lakey)

A documentary photograph is not a factual photograph per se. It is a photograph which carries the full meaning of the episode. (Dorothea Lange)

I'm not really sure what social message my art carries, if any. And I don't really want it to carry one. (Roy Lichtenstein)

The meaning lies within the person, and all that he has become in the history that has molded him, and which he bears within his brain. (Gay Gaer Luce)

One of the distinguishing characteristics of the true work of art is that it is able to both contain and express different meanings – meanings which may in fact contradict each other. (Edward Lucie-Smith)

Don't everlastingly read messages into paintings – there's the Daisy – you don't rave over or read messages into it – you just look at that bully little flower – isn't that enough? (John Marin)

A work of art must carry in itself its complete significance and impose it upon the beholder even before he can identify the subject-matter... (Henri Matisse)

-The Courage to Create...
Artists knock on silence for an answering music; they pursue meaninglessness until they can force it to mean. (Rollo May)

Because we are in the world, we are condemned to meaning, and we cannot do or say anything without its acquiring a name in history. (Maurice Merleau-Ponty)

Where more is meant than meets the ear. (John Milton)

The painting rises from the brushstrokes as a poem rises from the words. The meaning comes later. (Joan Miro)

It seems very clear what it means. I can't say it but the painting makes it clear. If I don't know, then it's not working. If it seems right to me, then it has a meaning, but I can't tell you what meaning. I can't be more specific than that. It works when it means something, when I don't question it any more. (Joan Mitchell)

Just as with the quartet, each part of a painting is telling a different story. (Guido Molinari)

There is a great good in returning to a landscape that has had extraordinary meaning in one's life. It happens that we return to such places in our minds irresistibly. (Navarre Scott Momaday)

I never had the... common anxiety as to whether abstract painting had a given 'meaning.' (Robert Motherwell)

In the end I realize that whatever meaning that picture has is the accumulated meaning of ten thousand brushstrokes, each one being decided as it was painted. (Robert Motherwell)

When art seems to be empty of meaning, as no doubt some of the abstract painting of our own day actually does seem, what the painting says, indeed what the artist is shrieking at the top of his voice, is that life has become empty of all rational content and coherence, and that, in times like these, is far from a meaningless statement. (Lewis Mumford)

What was once called the objective world is a sort of Rorschach ink blot, into which each culture, each system of science and religion, each type of personality, reads a meaning only remotely derived from the shape and color of the blot itself. (Lewis Mumford)

In my art I have tried to explain to myself life and its meaning. I have also tried to help others to clarify their lives. (Edvard Munch)

When you pursue artistic expression and give yourself the gift of time to create, you are centering yourself and giving your life a richer level of meaning that expands to other aspects of your life. Being creative gives you a tremendous reason for being. (Catherine Nash)

Some people have asked me what my art is all about. Well, I don't know. For all I know it could be about sex as much as it could be about politics. If I knew that my art had any conceptual meaning, I perhaps would stop painting for good. (Neith Nevelson)

Any art worthy of its name should address life, man, nature, death and tragedy. (Barnett Newman)

It is weight that gives meaning to weightlessness... (Isamu Noguchi)

Symbolism, subliminal messaging, even Freudian slips, enhance the way a work can resonate. The most interesting ambiguities may well extend beyond the artist's conscious intentions, to the subconscious meanings that surface in unexpected ways. (Brigitte Nowak)

Nothing is less real than realism. Details are confusing. It is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis, that we get at the real meaning of things. (Georgia O'Keeffe)

Not every work of art is or need be a heavily profound statement... (Freeman Patterson)

I have one aim only: to impart a fraction of the meaning of the word 'now.' (Fritz Perls)

If I paint a hammer and sickle people may think it is a representation of Communism, but for me it is only a hammer and sickle. I just want to reproduce the objects for what they are, not for what they mean. (Pablo Picasso)

If particulars are to have meaning, there must be universals. (Plato)

- interview with Shirley Kaneda, 1994...
The paintings aren't supposed to be a checklist of eclectic quotations to be ticked off as recognized. I hope they have a singular presence which precedes any fragmentational reading. (Fiona Rae)

It's been said many times in world art writing that one can find some of painting's meaning by looking not only at what painters do, but what they refuse to do. (Ad Reinhardt)

The line comes before meaning. (Paul Reps)

A picture... demonstrates the endless multiplicity of aspects; it takes away our certainty, because it deprives a thing of its meaning and its name. It shows us the thing in all the manifold significance and infinite variety that preclude the emergence of any single meaning and view. (Gerhard Richter)

I had something I was trying to say and sometimes the message is an easy transmission and sometimes it's a difficult one but I love the power of saying it so I'm gonna do it whether it's hard or easy. (Faith Ringgold)

Human beings have the awesome ability to take any experience of their lives and create a meaning that disempowers them or one that can literally save their lives. (Tony Robbins)

It is not what we get, but who we become, what we contribute... that gives meaning to our lives. (Tony Robbins)

Things do not have meaning. We assign meaning to everything. (Tony Robbins)

It all has meaning to me. As I explain my paintings, I hope that they get away from me, that the idea takes off and has a life of its own. (James Rosenquist)

Be sure that you go to the author to get at his meaning, not to find yours. (Salman Rushdie)

- The Moor's Last Sigh...
A sigh isn't just a sigh. We inhale the world and breathe out meaning. While we can. While we can. (Salman Rushdie)

Better the rudest work that tells a story or records a fact, than the richest without meaning. (John Ruskin)

Each man must look to himself to teach him the meaning of life. It is not something discovered: it is something molded. (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

Images with a meaning peculiar to their own time and place, once created, have a magnetic power to attract other ideas into their sphere... they can suddenly be forgotten and remembered again after centuries of oblivion. (Fritz Saxl)

Deeper meaning resides in the fairy tales told to me in my childhood than in the truth that is taught by life. (Johann Friedrich von Schiller)

Irony is the form of paradox. Paradox is what is good and great at the same time. (Friedrich Von Schlegel)

I always get into arguments with people who want to retain the old values in painting – the humanistic values that they... find on the canvas. If you pin them down, they always end up asserting that there is something there besides the paint on the canvas. My painting is based on the fact that only what can be seen there is there... What you see is what you get. (Frank Stella)

A poem need not have a meaning and like most things in nature often does not have. (Wallace Stevens)

For that is the power of the camera: seize the familiar and give it new meanings, a special significance by the mark of a personality. (Alfred Stieglitz)

Create quality art.... meaningful, passionate and high quality work! If it's not meaningful to you, how can you expect it to be meaningful to anyone else? (Cory Trepanier)

A painting contains any number of meanings, including the correct one. (Author unknown)

I'm afraid that if you look at a thing long enough, it loses all of its meaning. (Andy Warhol)

It is the qualities and relations of a creative concept that gives meaning to art. (Frank Webb)

-The Path to Twelve-Note Composition, 1932...
Unity is surely the indispensable thing if meaning is to exist. Unity, to be very general, is the establishment of the utmost relatedness between all component parts... the aim is to make as clear as possible the relationships between the parts of the unity; in short, to show how one thing leads to another. (Anton Webern)

The fine art of painting, which is the bastard of alchemy, always has been always will be, a game. The rules of the game are quite simple: in a given arena, on as many psychic fronts as the talent allows, one must visually describe the centre of the meaning of existence. (Brett Whiteley)

Life is not 'nice.' Paint with comment - or get a violin. (David Wayne Wilson)

Don't look for the meanings; look for the use. (Ludwig Wittgenstein)

We need to find a deeper meaning in life. Our duty, as artists, is to tap into those notes that resonate in us all - to strike a chord. (Miles Patrick Yohnke)

All talk of method and style seemed suddenly trivial; I became interested in meaning. I wanted to say something musically about life and living. (Ellen Taaffe Zwilich)