Black and white can show how something is. Color adds how it is, imbued with temperatures and humidities of experience.

— Peter Schjeldahl

The most sublime Peter Schjeldahl quotes that are proven to give you inner joy

The artist is a strange being. I think it's safe to say that a real artist is conscious of having a personal singularity that is partly a blessing and partly a curse. An artist enjoys and suffers from isolation. As solitude, isolation can nurture. It can also destroy.

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Everything that would begin to make somebody a good student would tend to make him or her a poor artist, and vice versa.

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Artists are people who are subject to irrational convictions of the sacred.

Baudelaire said that an artist is a child who has acquired adult capacities and discipline. Art education should help build those capacities and that discipline without messing over the child.

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You could say that clinical depression is an incapacity to aesthetic response.

It's like there's a constant agreement within ourselves, a kind of mutual understanding between ourselves and the world.

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The experience of beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as they say.

The artist's relation to the object of beauty, how the art makes that happen, is a whole other subject. Beauty is an event. Beauty is something that happens. There is no such thing as a beautiful object or a beautiful woman.

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Why do you need street smarts? Shrewdness? Toughness? It's to protect something soft that is going to be in danger if it's exposed at the wrong time and place. It's to protect a soul. But to protect your soul, you have to have one to start with.

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Education is this funny thing. You deal for several years with organized information, and then you go out into the world and you never see any of that ever again. There's no more organized information.

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Matisse can make you hate your life for its comparatively insipid joys.

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Photography is the art of anticipation, not working with memories, but showing their formation. As such, it has relentlessly usurped imaginative and critical prerogatives of older, slower literature and handmade visual art.

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The dominant problem of pictorial art since the nineteen-fifties is photography, and, by extension, film and video. The basilisk eye of the camera has withered the pride of handworked mediums. Painting survives on a case-by-case basis, its successes amounting to special exemptions from a verdict of history.

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Picasso had nicknamed Georges Braque "Wilbur," thereby becoming "Orville" in their Wright Brothers-like ambition to get painting off the ground of conventional representation.

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I can do pretty good work in various short forms, but anything over 1400 words, I'd be of no use. I like to say I'm a river navigator. I need to see the shore behind the shore.

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About Peter Schjeldahl

Quotes 52 sayings
Profession Art critic
Birthday March 20, 1942

To me, the greatest artists are almost entirely non-verbal.

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A word is a thought, of course. But any image, including a photograph, may become an instrument of sufficiently lucid cogitation.

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There's art that I would readily buy if I could afford it, and enjoy, but would never write about because it doesn't seem significant.

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An artist, in my experience, is a man or woman of unusual talent and peculiar, highly individual sensibility, with an independent and probably contrary mind, driven by mysterious passions for which another word is neurosis. In getting from point A to point B, the neurotic goes via point Q. It's in that roundabout that people are either completely crippled and hopeless in life, or highly creative.

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I do have pleasure when I'm writing. I mean, I'm aware of pleasure. And sometimes I make myself laugh, with a joke or something; or I feel gleeful.

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For Rembrandt, reality is role-playing.... Everyone is portrayed in relation to a social hierarchy.

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Artists are sometimes in a position to tell the truth, but they're positioned as a Cassandra. They're gifted with impeccable prophecy and the assurance of never being listened to.

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I find that the mask of the critic is to have distance.

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The aesthetic experience has to be given.

And beauty is a regular experience of every person - every person who is not clinically depressed!

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Rembrandt was way ahead of his time. It's as if he was painting an amateur theatrical, or a professional theatrical, in his studio. It's a kind of performance.

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All artists and creative people are basically unhappy people.

If you were happy, that would mean you were content with the world as it was and why would you ever want to change it?

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Beauty makes us more like ourselves and more like each other.

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Art teachers are always the doormats of the previous generation.

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Everything I've learned about art was (a) because I was actually interested, or (b) I was actually interested in covering my ass because of what I was writing about.

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What I want to know from students, and I ask them right away, is, 'What do you want? I don't care what it is. I want to help you get it.

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I have painted enough to have a lot of respect for mediocre painters. It's really hard.

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Everybody's got plants, but most are just growing weeds.

The cultivated have greater gardens, finer and gaudier gardens.

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Artists are expected to talk about their work but writers aren't expected to talk about their writing.

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You don't need everybody to agree with you, but you do need a few people.

And by this point I have a fairly high degree of confidence in my judgment, in that I don't doubt my sanity; or, even if I do, I don't have to be reassured.

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It's possible I am the only art critic that a lot of people read.

And maybe Robert Hughes, if he's still writing.

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It's my duty to sell the ideas. But there's always a question when it comes to beauty.

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Comic books, graphic novels, involve constant toggling and it's hard work.

You get tired reading comic books, but you never get tired looking at pictures or reading words.

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With art criticism it's difficult to discuss beauty, to assess it, because there's always the possibility that we're insane.

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Smithson was someone of tremendous significance whose work was not beautiful at all. I think he was an iconoclast.

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Your medium has to be alive to you, no matter what you do.

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My problem with political art is not that it's bad art necessarily, but that it is terrible politics.

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I have a total responsibility to the reader. The reader has to trust me and never feel betrayed.

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There is an ineffable but fatal difference in attitude between people behaving naturally and people behaving naturally for a camera.

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A lot of writers and artists are like chefs who eat their own cooking in the kitchen and then deliver an empty plate with assurances that it's great.

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Art is always subject to change in a moment by somebody who's strong enough to shed new light on it.

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I think being interested is really what being civilized is about.

I mean, you have to be conscious of everything.

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The problem of making artists talk about their work is that when they're making their work the left-brain is shut off. So if you talk to an artist about it, you're talking to someone who wasn't there. It's hopeless.

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Beauty is a physiological reaction. Beauty is not an object.

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Beauty is not a concept. It is the animal joy of the mind.

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Minimalism itself had a very strong iconoclast impulse.

You think of the sixties as loose and liberated, but in art it was actually quite the contrary.

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Love and fear, the two strongest emotions we have. It all starts with emotion.

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There's a double standard between writers and readers.

Readers can be unfaithful to writers anytime they like, but writers must never ever be unfaithful to the readers.

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