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Art Quotes on Symbols


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41 art quotes about Symbols found | Share this page of quotes about Symbols on Facebook

I use symbols to imply abstract ideas. My main objective is to construct a synthesis of the natural, the abstract, and the imaginary, and so bring into existence a language of personal symbolism. (Kent Addison)

Matter as matter rather than matter as symbol is a conscious political position, essentially Marxist. (Carl Andre)

Art is the aesthetic ordering of experience to express meanings in symbolic terms. (Daniel Bell)

In literature and in art, alike, this gloomy fashion of regarding Death has been characteristic of Christianity. Death has been painted as a skeleton grasping a scythe, a grinning skull, a threatening figure with terrible face and uplifted dart, a bony scarecrow shaking an hourglass - all that could alarm and repel has been gathered round this rightly-named King of Terrors. (Annie Besant)

Take the birds which you'll have noticed in so many of my recent paintings. I never thought them up, they just materialized of their own accord; they were born on the canvas... it is absurd to read any sort of symbolic significance into them. (Georges Braque)

A private symbolism is not even possible... (James Brooks)

-on Sengai's The Universe...
How could one explain so much with so little? How could three simple symbols reach out and grab hold of me? They held rhythm, excitement, spontaneity and were certainly part of my 'inner child' - they were pieces of art itself. (Alan Bruce)

It is through symbols that man consciously or unconsciously lives, works and has his being. (Thomas Carlyle)

If a symbol should be discovered in a painting of mine, it was not my intention. It is a result I did not seek. It is something that may be found afterwards, and which can be interpreted according to taste. (Marc Chagall)

We communicate through art with symbols that transcend the boundaries of time and culture. (Richard Clar)

The history of art cannot be properly understood without some reference to the history of science. In both we are studying the symbols by which man affirms his mental scheme, and these symbols, be they pictorial or mathematical, a fable or formula, will reflect the same changes. (Sir Kenneth Clark)

When the symbols are 'public' they usually act in an oblique manner, revealing themselves as archetypal symbols, which though familiar, have their central meanings obscured as is usual in esoteric imagery. (Kenneth Coutts-Smith)

-Putting my Foot in It...
Symbols need not limit their scope to this pendulum swing of images. (Rene Crevel)

I trust the symbol that is arrived at in the making of the painting. Meaningful symbols aren't invented as such, they are made or discovered as symbol later. (Richard Diebenkorn)

If you have to ask what it symbolizes, it didn't. (Roger Ebert)

Superficially insignificant or accidental looking detail [in art] may well carry the most important unconscious symbolism. (Anton Ehrenzweig)

Signs are taken for wonders. / 'We would see a sign!' / The word within a word, unable to speak a word, / Swaddled with darkness. (T. S. Eliot)

I have painted and drawn bulls for some time because of their density and all the symbolism they carry. (Paul Emsley)

I believe that Nature and the Cosmos exist within Man in the form of subconscious symbols... Geometric shapes, such as the Circle and the Triangle, are themselves archetypal shapes and represent Man's striving for unity and harmony with the Cosmos. (Bela Fidel)

An overwhelming majority of symbols in dreams are sexual symbols. (Sigmund Freud)

Everything can be linked together in some fashion, in either a physical, psychological, or symbolic manner. (Buckminster Fuller)

Mountains in all their moods are symbols of something greater, something worth aspiring to. Mountains are powerful, dangerous, beautiful, noble and mysterious. Mountains get respect. (Robert Genn)

I paint to evoke a changing language of symbols, a language with which to remark upon the qualities of our mysterious capacities which direct us toward ultimate reality. (Morris Graves)

Symbols have a trick of stealing the show away from the thing they stand for. (Henry S. Haskins)

The urban environment is chock-full of... symbols – street signs, lights, arrows, figures and trees... They provide a distinctive sparkle and reality to cityscapes. (Sidney Hermel)

Light is the symbol of truth. (James Russell Lowell)

I perceived that the 'thing' and the 'idea' were taken to be equivalents of feeling, and understood the lie of the world of will and idea. Is the milk bottle the symbol of milk? (Kasimir Malevich)

These symbols of his own creation... give him a greater pleasure than the object seen. He reforms them, he rearranges them, he focuses them to his own inner seeings and longings. (John Marin)

I have to create an object which resembles the tree. The sign for a tree, and not the sign that other artists may have found for the tree. (Henri Matisse)

- Phenomenology of Perception, 1945...
The number and richness of man's signifiers always surpasses the set of defined objects that could be termed signifieds. The symbolic function must always precede its object and does not encounter reality except when it precedes it into the imaginary... (Maurice Merleau-Ponty)

When we use numbers we are using symbols, and it is only when we transfer them to life that they become actualities. The same is true with drawing and painting. They are to be learned, not as rules, but as actualities. Then the rules become appropriate. (Kimon Nicolaides)

By depicting fertile and regenerative symbols, I create imagery that speaks of basic human energy. (Reni Packer)

We photographers are poets in the language of symbols. (Jan Phillips)

If modern art has produced symbols that are unfamiliar, that was only to be expected. (Herbert Read)

A language not based on universal symbols or sensations is gibberish, a pitfall of modern art, no longer modern. (Nelson Shanks)

-East is West...
The symbol is greater than visible substance... Unhappy the land that has no symbols, or that chooses their meaning without great care. (Freya Stark)

Man's ultimate concern must be expressed symbolically, because symbolic language alone is able to express the ultimate. (Paul Tillich)

Art has to be incredibly layered. Symbols, signifiers... layers that relate. Combine signifiers with more abstract notions. Push! Vary lines. (Kay WalkingStick)

Symbolism is no mere idle fancy or corrupt egerneration: it is inherent in the very texture of human life. (Alfred North Whitehead)

All art is at once surface and symbol. (Oscar Wilde)

Sometimes we don't even realize what we really care about, because we get so distracted by the symbols. (Tom Wolfe)


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Last modified: April 23, 2014