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Art Quotes on Deception


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Every work of art is an uncommitted crime. (Theodor W. Adorno)

Appearances are often deceiving. (Aesop)

The hair is real; it's the head that's fake. (Steve Allen)

If you want to convey fact, this can only ever be done through a form of distortion. You must distort to transform what is called appearance into image. (Francis Bacon)

-on Salvador Dali...
All in Dali is indeed contrived, a brilliant illustration of his own psyche as he understands it, as opposed to how it truly may have been. (Sister Wendy Beckett)

I will go to my grave in a state of abject endless fascination that we all have the capacity to become emotionally involved with a personality that doesn't exist. (Berkely Breathed)

The easiest person to deceive is one's self. (Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton)

You can fool some of the people all the time, and those are the ones you want to concentrate on. (George W. Bush)

It's better to get something worthwhile done using deception than to fail to get something worthwhile done using truth. (Carlos Castaneda)

The foreground in a picture is always unattractive... Art demands that the interest of the canvas should be placed in the far distance, where lies take refuge, those dreams which blossom out of fact and are man's only love. (Louis-Ferdinand Celine)

-The Innocence of Father Brown, 1911
The criminal is the creative artist; the detective only the critic. (G. K. Chesterton)

Art is the most beautiful of all lies. (Claude Debussy)

'Art' is the same word as 'artifice,' that is to say, something deceitful. It must succeed in giving the impression of nature by false means. (Edgar Degas)

A picture is an artificial work, outside nature. It calls for as much cunning as the commission of a crime. (Edgar Degas)

In painting you must give the idea of the true by means of the false. (Edgar Degas)

If the quote of Picasso is true, does a better liar make a better artist? (Les Ducak)

I've always thought that art is a lie, an interesting lie. And I'll sort of listen to the 'lie' and try to imagine the world which makes that lie true... what that world must be like, and what would have to happen for us to get from this world to that one. (Brian Eno)

You can fool just about anyone, but the easiest one to fool is yourself. (Richard Feynman)

It is in the ability to deceive oneself that the greatest talent is shown. (Anatole France)

I've never known anyone who was what he or she seemed; or at least, was only what he or she seemed. People carry worlds within them. (Neil Gaiman)

Flat, uninteresting parts of paintings are, in fact, a ruse to get the viewer to see what needs to be seen. (Robert Genn)

The eye of a human being is a microscope, which makes the world seem bigger than it really is. (Kahlil Gibran)

-on John James Audubon...
Audubon biographers and scholars [have noted], by various euphemisms, that all great men have their flaws, and their man's principal flaw was that he, well, he lied a lot. (Bil Gilbert)

Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world. (Jean-Luc Godard)

Confidence, once lost or betrayed, can never be restored again to the same measure; and we learn too late in life that our acts of deception are irrevocable – they may be forgiven, but they cannot be forgotten by their victims. (Sydney J. Harris)

It is the honest lies we tell - statements factually correct and essentially deceiving - which debauch our manhood and stunt our growth. (Henry S. Haskins)

There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact. (Sherlock Holmes)

The moment you cheat for the sake of beauty, you know you're an artist. (Max Jacob)

Almost every man wastes part of his life in attempts to display qualities he does not possess, and to gain applause which he cannot keep. (Samuel Johnson)

We learn to deceive ourselves while we are trying to deceive others. (Sidney Jourard)

Self-deceit is a most damaging trait. The remedy, for an artist, is to paint a self-portrait! (Scott Kahn)

I mean, all art in some ways is a lie. It looks like a picture of something, but it isn't that thing, it's a representation of that thing... (Michael Kimmelman)

We are more inclined to shrug than we are to gasp. Isn't everything a trick? Am I putting you on? (John Leonard, critic)

We are in the business of telling lies. Pull a good swindle. (Robert Levers)

You can fool some of the people all the time and all the people some of the time; but you can't fool all of the people all the time. (Abraham Lincoln)

The counterfeit and counterpart of Nature is reproduced in art. (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

One who deceives will always find those who allow themselves to be deceived. (Niccolo Machiavelli)

The bird of truth would not be able to fly if it weren't for the air of lies we breathe. (Eugene J. Martin)

I have always tried to hide my efforts and wished my works to have the light joyousness of springtime which never lets anyone suspect the labors it has cost. (Henri Matisse)

When a man suspects any wrong, it sometimes happens that if he be already involved in the matter, he insensibly strives to cover up his suspicions even from himself. (Herman Melville)

What one has most to work and struggle for in painting is to do the work with a great amount of labour and sweat in such a way that it may afterward appear, however much it was laboured upon, to have been done almost quickly and almost without any labour, and very easily, although it was not. (Michelangelo)

It may be that the deep necessity of art is the examination of self-deception. (Robert Motherwell)

It can't look like you've worked hard and long, even if you have. A painting should be done quickly with both your intellect and your nerves. When they give out, stop. (Charles Movalli)

What is acting but lying and what is good acting but convincing lying? (Sir Laurence Olivier)

Art lies by its own artifice. (Ovid)

First appearance deceives many. (Ovid)

Part of the role of photography is to exaggerate. Most of the photographs in your paper, unless they are hard news, are lies. Fashion pictures show people looking glamorous. Travel pictures show a place looking at its best, nothing to do with the reality... Most of the pictures we consume are propaganda. (Martin Parr)

A thousand plastic flowers don't make a desert bloom. A thousand empty faces don't fill an empty room. (Fritz Perls)

Academic training in beauty is a sham. We have been so deceived, but so well deceived that we can scarcely get back even a shadow of the truth. (Pablo Picasso)

Art is a lie that makes us realize truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand. The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies. If he only shows in his work that he has searched, and researched, for the way to put over lies, he would never accomplish anything. (Pablo Picasso)

Everything that deceives may be said to enchant. (Plato)

The height of art is to conceal art. (Quintilian)

Sincerity is the eventual deception of all great men. (Rembrandt)

If deceiving the eye were the only business of the art... the minute painter would be more apt to succeed. But it is not the eye, it is the mind which the painter of genius desires to address. (Sir Joshua Reynolds)

My landscapes are not only beautiful or nostalgic, with a Romantic or classical suggestion of lost Paradises, but above all 'untruthful'... (Gerhard Richter)

All that we call ideal in Greek or any other art, because to us it is false and visionary, was, to the makers of it, true and existent. (John Ruskin)

The essence of lying is in deception, not in words. (John Ruskin)

Truth lives on in the midst of deception. (Johann Friedrich von Schiller)

False face must hide what the false heart doth know. (William Shakespeare)

Lying to yourself - or self-deception, as psychologists call it - can actually have benefits... The trick, of course, is finding the line between just enough self-deception, and too much. (Sue Shellenbarger)

We read the world wrong and say that it deceives us. (Rabindranath Tagore)

When you meet triumph or disaster, treat these imposters alike. (Alfred, Lord Tennyson)

You can fool too many of the people too much of the time. (James Thurber)

Nothing is simpler than to complete pictures in a superficial sense. Never does one lie so cleverly as then. (Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec)

It is not difficult to deceive the first time, for the deceived possesses no antibodies; unvaccinated by suspicion, she overlooks latenesses, accepts absurd excuses, permits the flimsiest patchings to repair great rents in the quotidian. (John Updike)

Deceit... is what art does best. (Meyer Vaisman)

Everyone is born sincere and dies a deceiver. (Marquis de Vauvenargues)

The art of pleasing is the art of deception. (Marquis de Vauvenargues)

The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions. (Leonardo da Vinci)

Fake is as old as the Eden tree. (Orson Welles)

I drag my myth around with me. (Orson Welles)

-On Photography by Susan Sontag...
Only with effort can the camera be forced to lie: basically it is an honest medium: so the photographer is much more likely to approach nature in a spirit of inquiry, of communion, instead of with the saucy swagger of self-dubbed 'artists.' (Edward Weston)

Lying, the telling of beautiful untrue things, is the proper aim of art. (Oscar Wilde)

-on Van Gogh's severed ear...
Paul Gauguin may have done it... the weight of evidence... is overwhelming. Everything we know about what happened is from Gauguin. But Gauguin was an inveterate liar. He was also armed. (Rita Wildegans)

My pencil is like a fencer's foil. (Andrew Wyeth)


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Last modified: April 25, 2014