"That the mere matter of a poem, for instance--its subject, its given incidents or situation; that the mere matter of a picture--the actual circumstances of an event, the actual topography of a landscape--should be nothing without the form, the spirit of the handling, that this form, this mode of handling, should become an end in itself, should penetrate every part of the matter;Mthis is what all art constantly strives after, and achieves in different degrees."
"The religion of art, like the religion of politics, was born from the ruins of Christianity. Art inherited from the old religion the power of consecrating things and endowing them with a sort of eternity; museums are our temples, and the objects displayed in them are beyond history. Politics--or more precisely, Revolution--co-opted the other function of religion: changing human beings and society. Art was an asceticism, a spiritual heroism; Revolution was the construction of a universal church."
"We all know that Art is not truth. 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."
"You listen to artists fighting with each other, competing to the death like gladiators, in order to see who is going to get into ashow, who is going to make it, who isn't: who is going to get a full-page ad and who is going to get a half-page. Then I think, "Wouldn't it be wonderful to go off somewhere and just do your work?"
"The painter stood entranced before the work which he had wrought;... he grew tremulous and ... crying with a loud voice, "This isindeed Life itself!" turned suddenly to regard his beloved:MShe was dead!"
"Were I called on to define, very briefly, the term Art, I should call it "the reproduction of what the Senses perceive in Nature through the veil of the soul." The mere imitation, however accurate, of what is in Nature, entitles no man to the sacred name of "Artist."
"To see distinctly the machinery--the wheels and pinions--of any work of Art is, unquestionably, of itself, a pleasure, but one which we are able to enjoy only just in proportion as we do not enjoy the legitimate effect designed by the artist."
"In times like ours, where the growing complexity of life leaves us barely the time to read the newspapers, where the map of Europehas endured profound rearrangements and is perhaps on the brink of enduring yet others, where so many threatening and new problems appear everywhere, you will admit it may be demanded of a writer that he be more than a fine wit who makes us forget in idle and byzantine discussions on the merits of pure form ..."
"A Carpaccio in Venice, la Berma in Phèdre, masterpieces of visual or theatrical art that the prestige surrounding them made so alive, that is so invisible, that, if I were to see a Carpaccio in a gallery of the Louvre or la Berma in some play of which I had never heard, I would not have felt the same delicious surprise at finally setting eyes on the unique and inconceivable object of so many thousands of my dreams."
"True variety is in that plenitude of real and unexpected elements, in the branch charged with blue flowers thrusting itself, against all expectations, from the springtime hedge which seems already too full, while the purely formal imitation of variety ... is but void and uniformity, that is, that which is most opposed to variety...."
"An entertainment is something which distracts us or diverts us from the routine of daily life. It makes us for the time being forget our cares and worries; it interrupts our conscious thoughts and habits, rests our nerves and minds, though it may incidentally exhaust our bodies. Art, on the other hand, though it may divert us from the normal routine of our existence, causes us in some way or other to become conscious of that existence."
"The last publicized center of American writing was Manhattan. Its writers became known as the New York Intellectuals. With important connections to publishing, and universities, with access to the major book reviews, they were able to pose as the vanguard of American culture when they were so obsessed with the two Joes--McCarthy and Stalin--that they were to produce only two artists, Saul Bellow and Philip Roth, who left town."
"There is the falsely mystical view of art that assumes a kind of supernatural inspiration, a possession by universal forces unrelated to questions of power and privilege or the artist's relation to bread and blood. In this view, the channel of art can only become clogged and misdirected by the artist's concern with merely temporary and local disturbances. The song is higher than the struggle."