Top Art History Quotes

Browse top 428 famous quotes and sayings about Art History by most favorite authors.

Favorite Art History Quotes

1. "What shop did this book come from? she asked. Her father was looking worried at the cooker. He always got rice wrong. I don't know, Brooksie, he said, I don't remember. That was unimaginable, not remembering where a book has come from! and where it was bought from! That was part of the whole history, the whole point, of any book that you owned! And when you picked it up later in the house at home, you knew, you just knew by looking and having it in your hand, where it came from and where you got it and when and why you'd decided to buy it."
Author: Ali Smith
2. "Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness — and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we're being brainwashed to believe. The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling — their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability."
Author: Arundhati Roy
3. "Look at a globe and what you are seeing really is a snapshot of the continents as they have been for just one-tenth of 1 per cent of the earths history."
Author: Bill Bryson
4. "As this book will show, objectively defined races simply do not exist. Even Arthur Mourant realized that fact nearly fifty years ago, when he wrote: 'Rather does a study of blood groups show a heterogeneity in the proudest nation and support the view that the races of the present day are but temporary integrations in the constant process of . . . mixing that marks the history of every living species.' The temptation to classify the human species into categories which have no objective basis is an inevitable but regrettable consequence of the gene frequency system when it is taken too far. For several years the study of human genetics got firmly bogged down in the intellectually pointless (and morally dangerous) morass of constructing ever more detailed classifications of human population groups."
Author: Bryan Sykes
5. "The heart of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact. The old myth of the Dying God, without ceasing to be a myth, comes down from the heaven of legend and imagination to the earth of history."
Author: C.S. Lewis
6. "A consciousness of rectitude can be a terrible thing, and in those days I didn't just think that I was right: I thought that "we" (our group of International Socialists in particular) were being damn well proved right. If you have never yourself had the experience of feeling that you are yoked to the great steam engine of history, then allow me to inform you that the conviction is a very intoxicating one."
Author: Christopher Hitchens
7. "If philosophy had the power to establish incontrovertible truths, immune to doubt, and if philosophers were as a rule wholly disinterested practitioners of their art, then it might be possible to speak of progress in philosophy. In fact, however, the philosophical tendencies and presuppositions of any age are, to a very great degree, determined by the prevailing cultural mood or by the ideological premises generally approved of my the educated classes. As often as not, the history of philosophy has been a history of prejudices masquerading as principles, and so merely a history of fashion. It is as possible today to be an intellectually scrupulous Platonist as it was more than two thousand years ago; it is simply not in vogue."
Author: David Bentley Hart
8. "[Lee Oswald] saw himself as part of something vast and sweeping. He was the product of a sweeping history, he and his mother, locked into a process, a system of money and property that diminished their human worth every day, as if by scientific law. The books made him part of something. Something led up to his presence in this room, in this particular skin, and something would follow. Men in small rooms. Men reading and waiting, struggling with secret and feverish ideas. (41)"
Author: Don DeLillo
9. "To write without any awareness of a tradition you are trying to become a part of would be self-defeating. Every artist alive responds to the history of his or her art—borrowing, stealing, rebelling against, and building on what other artists have done."
Author: Dorianne Laux
10. "On present-day Earth we have the most Christ-like nation in human history, a civilization built on loving kindness and demilitarization. They are being wiped off the face of their homeland. Well, at least the Chinese government isn't blaming Christ or Buddha for their actions against Tibet! But many savage pillagers throughout the past two thousand years have, and the Romans of a thousand years ago fall into that category. Within five hundred years they erased nearly all the nature-based, matriarchal tribes in what we now know as Europe. The invaders falsified history in order to justify their greed. Harmless facts and beautiful rituals were twisted to appear Satanic. Love of the environment and its animals and plants, love of healing modalities that modern day health professionals are now searching frantically to recover, were spin-doctored into demented superstition and turned outlaw."
Author: Doug Ten Rose
11. "It was a destructive novel of acquired ideas. To finally wake up in a state of creative anguish, to lose oneself in order to find oneself again, to sleep in the arms of a beautiful student whose name one didn't know, to fall back to sleep over a love poem-that was called existence. The harmonics of artistic creation, of fertile sensibility, of anticipated events-history in movement-that was called a privilege."
Author: Elie Wiesel
12. "But unvented - ahh! One un-vents something; one unearths it; one digs it up, one runs it down in whatever recesses of the eternal consciousness it has gone to ground. I very much doubt if anything is really new when one works in the prehistoric medium of wool with needles. The products of science and technology may be new, and some of them are quite horrid, but knitting? In knitting there are ancient possibilities; the earth is enriched with the dust of the millions of knitters who have held wool and needles since the beginning of sheep. Seamless sweaters and one-row buttonholes; knitted hems and phoney seams - it is unthinkable that these have, in mankind's history, remained undiscovered and unknitted. One likes to believe that there is memory in the fingers; memory undeveloped, but still alive."
Author: Elizabeth Zimmermann
13. "I had this sense that I was part of, sort of a lineage of artists and writers through history that have had mood disorders."
Author: Ellen Forney
14. "My heart goes out to victims and survivors of the Hurricane Katrina tragedy and to their families. This disaster will go down in history books as one of the largest natural disasters in U.S. history."
Author: Ellen Tauscher
15. "Another struggle has been the struggle to keep the value of a local and particular character, of a particular culture in this awful maelstrom, this awful avalanche toward uniformity. The whole fight is for the conservation of the individual soul. The enemy is the supression of history; against us is the bewildering propaganda and brainwash, luxury and violence. Sixty years ago, poetry was the poor man's art: a man off on the edge of the wilderness, or Frémont, going off with a Greek text in his pocket. A man who wanted the best could have it on a lonely farm. Then there was the cinema, and now television."
Author: Ezra Pound
16. "For a billion years the patient earth amassed documents and inscribed them with signs and pictures which lay unnoticed and unused. Today, at last, they are waking up, because man has come to rouse them. Stones have begun to speak, because an ear is there to hear them. Layers become history and, released from the enchanted sleep of eternity, life's motley, never-ending dance rises out of the black depths of the past into the light of the present."
Author: Hans Cloos
17. "Page 99: "...unless something changes, the future that you can expect is more of the past. Sorry or becoming committed does not make Jim Carrey a great golfer, or made Jack nicklaus funny. Recommitment does not make a person who is unsuited for a particular position suited for it all of a sudden. Promises by someone who has a history of letting you down in a relationship mean nothing certain in terms of the future."
Author: Henry Cloud
18. "Who but the artist has the power to open man up, to set free the imagination? The others - priest, teacher, saint, statesman, warrior - hold us to the path of history. They keep us chained to the rock, that the vultures may eat out our hearts. It is the artist who has the courage to go against the crowd; he is the unrecognized "hero of our time" - and of all time."
Author: Henry Miller
19. "Water splashes and runs in a film across the glass floor suspended above the mosaics. The Haci Kadin hamam is a typical post-Union fusion of architectures; Ottoman domes and niches built over some forgotten Byzantine palace, years and decades of trash blinding, gagging, burying the angel-eyed Greek faces in the mosaic floor; century upon century. That haunted face was only exposed to the light again when the builders tore down the cheap apartment blocks and discovered a wonder. But Istanbul is wonder upon wonder, sedimented wonder, metamorphic cross-bedded wonder. You can't plant a row of beans without turning up some saint or Sufi. At some point every country realizes it must eat its history. Romans ate Greeks, Byzantines ate Romans, Ottomans ate Byzantines, Turks ate Ottomans. The EU eats everything. Again, the splash and run as Ferid Bey scoops warm water in a bronze bowl from the marble basin and pours it over his head."
Author: Ian McDonald
20. "School was rough for me. I was a good student in middle school, but high school wasn't so fun. I still pulled through, though! I excelled in art, fashion, history and English literature - anything creative. Math and science I struggled a bit more in."
Author: India De Beaufort
21. "If only I were articulate to paint in the frail medium of words what I see and know and possess incorporated in my consciousness of the mighty driftage of the races in the times before our present written history began!"
Author: Jack London
22. "But the participants [in war] never forgot the details of their experience, and like the Wandering Jew, they were condemned to remain their own history books, each containing a story they could not pass on to others and from which no one would learn anything of value."
Author: James Lee Burke
23. "Creative work bridges time because the energy of art is not time-bound. If it were we should have no interest in the art of the past, except as history or documentary. But our interest in art is our interest in ourselves both now and always. Here and forever. There is a sense of the human spirit as always existing. This makes our death bearable. Life + art is a boisterous communion/communication with the dead. It is a boxing match with time."
Author: Jeanette Winterson
24. "I spend much more time looking at art history and at different references to art than I do at actual objects."
Author: Jeff Koons
25. "How badly I wanted to belong as I had when I was a young Mormon girl, to be simply a working part in the great Mormon plan of salvation, a smiling exemplar of our sparkling difference. But instead I found myself a headstrong Mormon woman staking out her spiritual survival at a difficult point in Mormon history."
Author: Joanna Brooks
26. "Pearl Harbor caused our Nation to wholeheartedly commit to winning World War II, changing the course of our Nation's history and the world's future."
Author: Joe Baca
27. "People regard art too highly, and history not enough"
Author: John Irving
28. "The situation Larch was thinking of was war, the so-called war in Europe; Larch, and many others, feared that the war wouldn't stay there. (‘I'm sorry, Homer,' Larch imagined having to tell the boy. ‘I don't want you to worry, but you have a bad heart; it just wouldn't stand up to a war.') What Larch meant was that his own heart would never stand up to Homer Wells's going to war.The love of Wilbur Larch for Homer Wells extended even to his tampering with history, a field wherein he was an admitted amateur, but it was nonetheless a field that he respected and also loved. (In an earlier entry in the file on Homer Wells – an entry that Dr. Larch removed, for it lent an incorrect tone of voice, or at least a tone of voice unusual for history – Dr. Larch had written: ‘I love nothing or no one as much as I love Homer Wells. Period."
Author: John Irving
29. "I lived in a region in the northwestern province - the people there in general have a great love for the Taliban, so I started to read some of the literature of the scholars and the history of the movement. And my heart became attached to them."
Author: John Walker Lindh
30. "Isn't it so weird how the number of dead people is increasing even though the earth stays the same size, so that one day there isn't going to be room to bury anyone anymore? For my ninth birthday last year, Grandma gave me a subscription to National Geographic, which she calls "the National Geographic." She also gave me a white blazer, because I only wear white clothes, and it's too big to wear so it will last me a long time. She also gave me Grandpa's camera, which I loved for two reasons. I asked why he didn't take it with him when he left her. She said, "Maybe he wanted you to have it." I said, "But I was negative-thirty years old." She said, "Still." Anyway, the fascinating thing was that I read in National Geographic that there are more people alive now than have died in all of human history. In other words, if everyone wanted to play Hamlet at once, they couldn't, because there aren't enough skulls!"
Author: Jonathan Safran Foer
31. "The gods weave misfortunes for men, so that the generations to come will have something to sing about." Mallarmé repeats, less beautifully, what Homer said; "tout aboutit en un livre," everything ends up in a book. The Greeks speak of generations that will sing; Mallarmé speaks of an object, of a thing among things, a book. But the idea is the same; the idea that we are made for art, we are made for memory, we are made for poetry, or perhaps we are made for oblivion. But something remains, and that something is history or poetry, which are not essentially different."
Author: Jorge Luis Borges
32. "Humanity as such, we might say, is a large collective drifting into the future with survival as its shared interest. This law differs from the "laws" that we have written down, and that have such an inorganic connotation. This law exists hardly to reign in outpourings of human instinct, but rather, is aligned with the incohate impulses toward life esconced in our hearts; it is an unspoken agreement among human beings where there are more than one. In short, this naked law, fundamental to survival,was altered and institutionalized over many thousands of years of history before our laws came to be."
Author: Koji Suzuki
33. "In a secular world, which is what most of us in Europe and North America live in, history takes on the role of showing us good and evil, virtues and vices. Religion no longer plays as important a part as it once did in setting moral standards and transmitting values. . . .History with a capital H is being called in to fill the void. It restores a sense not necessarily of a divine being but of something above and beyond human beings. It is our authority: it can vindicate us and judge us, and damn those who oppose us."
Author: Margaret MacMillan
34. "Smoke was a person with a sense of history. Do you know what I mean?" ...in truth, I DID know what she meant. Da Vinci, Martin Luther King, Jr., Genghis Kahn, Abraham Lincoln, Bette Davis - if you read their definitive biographies, you learned even when they were a month old, cooing in some wobbly crib in the middle of nowhere, they already had something historic about them. The way other kids had baseball, long division, Hot Wheels, and hula hoops, these kids had History and thus tended to be prone to colds, unpopular, sometimes plagued with a physical deformity (Lord Byron's clubfoot, Maugham's severe stutter, for example), which pushed them into exile in their heads. It was there they began to dream of human anatomy, civil rights, conquering Asia, a lost speech and being (within a span of four years) a jezebel, a marked woman, a little fox and an old maid."
Author: Marisha Pessl
35. "I was gradually coming to have a mysterious and shuddery reverence for this girl; nowadays whenever she pulled out from the station and got her train fairly started on one of those horizonless transcontinental sentences of hers, it was borne in upon me that I was standing in the awful presence of the Mother of the German Language. I was so impressed with this, that sometimes when she began to empty one of these sentences on me I unconsciously took the very attitude of reverence, and stood uncovered; and if words had been water, I had been drowned, sure. She had exactly the German way; whatever was in her mind to be delivered, whether a mere remark, or a sermon, or a cyclopedia, or the history of a war, she would get it into a single sentence or die. Whenever the literary German dives into a sentence, that is the last you are going to see of him till he emerges on the other side of his Atlantic with his verb in his mouth."
Author: Mark Twain
36. "Imagine the terrestrial timespan as an outstretched arm: a single swipe of an emery-board, across the nail of the third finger, erases human history. We haven't been around for very long. And we've turned the earth's hair white. Sh e seemed to have eternal youth but now she's ageing awful fast, like an addict, like a waxless candle. Jesus, have you seen her recently? we used to live and die without any sense of the planet getting older, of mother earth getting older, living and dying. We used to live outside history. But now we're all coterminous. We're inside history now all right, on its leading edge, with the wind ripping past our ears. Hard to love, when you're bracing yourself for impact. And maybe love can't bear it either, and flees all planets when they reach this condition, when they get to the end of their twentieth centuries."
Author: Martin Amis
37. "Americans may say they love our accents (I have been accused of sounding 'like Princess Di') but the more thoughtful ones resent and rather dislike us as a nation and people, as friends of mine have found out by being on the edge of conversations where Americans assumed no Englishmen were listening.And it is the English, specifically, who are the targets of this. Few Americans have heard of Wales. All of them have heard of Ireland and many of them think they are Irish. Scotland gets a sort of free pass, especially since Braveheart re-established the Scots' anti-English credentials among the ignorant millions who get their history off the TV."
Author: Peter Hitchens
38. "The choice between James's vision of a Jewish religion anchored in the Law of Moses and derived from a Jewish nationalist who fought against Rome, and Paul's vision of a Roman religion that divorced itself from Jewish provincialism and required nothing for salvation save belief in Christ, was not a difficult one for the second and third generations of Jesus's followers to make.Two thousand years later, the Christ of Paul's creation has utterly subsumed the Jesus of history. The memory of the revolutionary zealot who walked across Galilee gathering an army of disciples with the goal of establishing the Kingdom of God on earth, the magnetic preacher who defied the authority of the Temple priesthood in Jerusalem, the radical Jewish nationalist who challenged the Roman occupation and lost, has been almost completely lost to history."
Author: Reza Aslan
39. "I wrote and produced millions and millions of selling records, so my publishing company alone was worth millions of dollars. I didn't have to work anymore in life because when the rappers started sampling... I'm the most sampled artist in history."
Author: Rick James
40. "I couldn't miss Percy's fifteenth birthday," Poseidon said. "Why, if this were Sparta, Percy would be a man today!""That's true," Paul said. "I used to teach ancient history."Poseidon's eyes twinkled. "That's me. Ancient history."
Author: Rick Riordan
41. "The death of Robert G. Ingersoll, on July 21, 1899, was one of the most widely -- noted events of that year in the civilized world. It was also one of the most widely and profoundly regretted, -- the most deeply deplored. Everywhere, the wisest knew (and the noblest felt) that the cause of humanity had met its greatest loss. To many thousands who realized the intellectual amplitude, the moral heroism and grandeur, the boundless generosity and sympathy, the tenderness and affection, of this incomparable man, his passing was as an intimate and bitter bereavement.Ingersoll was doubtless known, personally and otherwise, to more people than any other American who had not sat in the presidential chair; and, notwithstanding either the number or the wishes of his critics, his death probably brought genuine grief to more hearts than has that of any other individual in our history. Twice before, 'a Nation bowed and wept'; this time, a people."
Author: Robert G. Ingersoll
42. "There was once a time when art history and film were basically the same medium, but art history is frozen in late-19th-century technology that has survived into the early 21st century."
Author: Robert Nelson
43. "The artist's job is to be a witness to his time in history."
Author: Robert Rauschenberg
44. "Secretly, I'm a real big nerd. I'd rather stay home and play Scrabble than go to a Hollywood party, any day of the week. And I love reading about history and watching the Discovery Channel."
Author: Sprague Grayden
45. "I didn't get a Bachelor's degree - I got a Bachelor's of Fine Arts, which means I didn't have to take humanities, math, and stuff like that. I think I had to take Art History, which I failed a few times."
Author: Stephen Furst
46. "Because I'm an art historian, I have some experience of writing that comes out of close attention. That's what really art history is. You're looking at something very closely, and you try to write in a meticulous way about it."
Author: Teju Cole
47. "At a certain age our parents offhandedly start telling us things we've never heard before, about themselves and their families, their upbringing and history. They're turning their lives into stories, trying to make sense of them in retrospect and pass them on while there's still time. You begin, embarrassingly belatedly, to see them as people with lives long preceding your own."
Author: Tim Kreider
48. "There is another physical law that teases me, too: the Doppler Effect. The sound of anything coming at you- a train, say, or the future- has a higher pitch than the sound of the same thing going away. If you have perfect pitch and a head for mathematics you can compute the speed of the object by the interval between its arriving and departing sounds. I have neither perfect pitch nor a head for mathematics, and anyway who wants to compute the speed of history? Like all falling bodies, it constantly accelerates. But I would like to hear your life as you heard it, coming at you, instead of hearing it as I do, a somber sound of expectations reduced, desires blunted, hopes deferred or abandoned, chances lost, defeats accepted, griefs borne."
Author: Wallace Stegner
49. "Through my history's despiteand ruin, I have cometo its remainder, and herehave made the beginningof a farm intended to becomemy art of being here.By it I would instructmy wants: they should belongto each other and to this place.Until my song comes hereto learn its words, my artis but the hope of song.(Part 2 from History is Clearing, p 174)"
Author: Wendell Berry
50. "Art is the suitcase of history, carrying the essentials. Art is the life buoy of history. Art is seed, art is memory, art is vaccine."
Author: Yann Martel

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Clutter, either mental or physical, is the sign of a healthy curiosity."
Author: Christopher Fowler

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