107 Abstract Expressionism Quotes To Inspire You

Following is our list of abstract expressionism quotations and slogans full of insightful wisdom and perspective about abstract painting.

The Most Famous Abstract Expressionism Quotes (Best in 2024)

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Abstract painting is abstract. It confronts you. — Jackson Pollock

I'm not an abstractionist. I'm not interested in the relationship of color or form or anything else. I'm interested only in expressing basic human emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on. — Mark Rothko

The truly modern artist is aware of abstraction in an emotion of beauty. — Piet Mondrian

abstract art is not the creation of another reality but the true vision of reality. — Piet Mondrian

Abstract art has helped us to experience the emotional power inherent in pure form. — Anton Ehrenzweig

Abstract painting is abstract. It confronts you. There was a reviewer a while back who wrote that my pictures didn't have any beginning or any end. He didn't mean it as a compliment, but it was. — Jackson Pollock

I was a student at Harvard, and that's where I learned about so-called avant-garde music. Jackson Pollock, abstract expressionism and painting were well known at this time. — Henry Flynt

Abstract is not a style. I simply want to make a surface work. This is just a use of space and form: it's an ambivalence of forms and space. — Joan Mitchell

There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality. — Pablo Picasso

A contemporary artist can use the findings of all epochs and all styles, from the most primitive literary expressions up to the most refined products of the baroque. — Juan Goytisolo

Abstract Art Quotes

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Abstract expressionism quote

Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is. — Jackson Pollock

The drawings don't start with 'a beautiful mark'. It has to be a mark of something out there in the world. It doesn't have to be an accurate drawing, but it has to stand for an observation, not something that is abstract, like an emotion. — William Kentridge

There is no must in art because art is free. — Wassily Kandinsky

Abstract expressionism quote Cost isn't abstract, but value is.
Cost isn't abstract, but value is.

Of all the arts, abstract painting is the most difficult. It demands that you know how to draw well, that you have a heightened sensitivity for composition and for colors, and that you be a true poet. This last is essential. — Wassily Kandinsky

Music, uniquely among the arts, is both completely abstract and profoundly emotional. It has no power to represent anything particular or external, but it has a unique power to express inner states or feelings. Music can pierce the heart directly; it needs no mediation. — Oliver Sacks

The modern artist is working with space and time, and expressing his feelings rather than illustrating. — Jackson Pollock

Why must art be static? You look at an abstraction, sculptured or painted, an entirely exciting arrangement of planes, spheres, nuclei, entirely without meaning. It would be perfect but it is always still. The next step in sculpture is motion. — Alexander Calder

The works of 'abstract' art are subtle creations of order out of simple contrasting elements. — Jan Tschichold

The buttocks are the most aesthetically pleasing part of the body because they are non-functional. Although they conceal an essential orifice, these pointless globes are as near as the human form can ever come to abstract art. — Kenneth Tynan

We speak of concrete and not abstract painting because nothing is more concrete, more real than a line, a color, a surface. — Theo van Doesburg

Abstract Painting Quotes

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I want people to know what it is they're looking at. But at the same time, the closer they get to the painting, it's like going back into childhood. And it's like an abstract piece.. it becomes the landscape of the brush marks rather than just sort of an intellectual landscape. — Jenny Saville

I was worried in the '80s that the best abstract painting had become obsessed with materiality, and painterly gestures and materiality were up against the wall. — Frank Stella

I'm not interested in 'abstracting' or taking things out or reducing painting to design, form, line, and color. I paint this way because I can keep putting more things in it - drama, anger, pain, love, a figure, a horse, my ideas about space. Through your eyes it again becomes an emotion or idea. — Willem de Kooning

The big shock of my life was Abstract Expressionism - Pollock, de Kooning, those guys. It changed my work. I was an academically trained student, and suddenly you could pour paint, smear it on, broom it on! — LeRoy Neiman

I have no fear of making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own. — Jackson Pollock

I was a really lousy artist as a kid. Too abstract expressionist; or I'd draw a big ram's head, really messy. I'd never win painting contests. I remember losing to a guy who did a perfect Spiderman. — Jean-Michel Basquiat

What I mean by 'abstract' is something which comes to life spontaneously through a gamut of contrasts, plastic at the same time as psychic, and pervades both the picture and the eye of the spectator with conceptions of new and unfamiliar elements. — Marc Chagall

As a movement Cubism had consistently stopped short of complete abstraction. Heretics such as Delaunay had painted pure abstractions but in so doing had deserted Cubism. — Alfred H. Barr, Jr.

You like it, that's all, whether it's a landscape or abstract. You like it. It hits you. You don't have to read it. The work of art-sculpture or painting-forces your eye. — Clement Greenberg

The painting has a life of its own — Jackson Pollock

Cubism Quotes

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When we discovered cubism, we did not have the aim of discovering cubism. We only wanted to express what was in us. — Pablo Picasso

Most people don't do something seminal. I've done it twice: with my tent and my bed. Picasso did it with Cubism. — Tracey Emin

Every so often, a painter has to destroy painting. Cezanne did it, Picasso did it with Cubism. Then Pollock did it. He busted our idea of a picture all to hell. Then there could be new paintings again. — Willem de Kooning

Cubism is not a reality you can take in your hand. It's more like a perfume, in front of you, behind you, to the sides, the scent is everywhere but you don’t quite know where it comes from. — Pablo Picasso

People want to find a 'meaning' in everything and everyone. That's the disease of our age... — Pablo Picasso

Cubism is like standing at a certain point on a mountain and looking around. If you go higher, things will look different; if you go lower, again they will look different. It is a point of view. — Jacques Lipchitz

Cubism is not a manner but an aesthetic, and even a state of mind; it is therefore inevitably connected with every manifestation of contemporary thought. It is possible to invent a technique or a manner independently, but one cannot invent the whole complexity of a state of mind. — Juan Gris

Cubism is the art of depicting new wholes with formal elements borrowed not only from the reality of vision, but from that of conception. — Guillaume Apollinaire

As we do not see squares in nature, I thought that it is man-made. But I have corrected myself. Because squares exist in salt crystals, our daily salt. — Josef Albers

I don't say everything, but I paint everything. — Pablo Picasso

Surrealism Quotes

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My idea is to bring happiness, respect, vision, poetry, surrealism and magic [to design]. — Philippe Starck

Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to be shackles limiting our vision. — Salvador Dali

Surrealism had a great effect on me because then I realised that the imagery in my mind wasn't insanity. Surrealism to me is reality. — John Lennon

I maintain that anyone who still refuses to see, for instance, a horse galloping on a tomato, must be an idiot. A tomato is also a child's balloon - Surrealism, again, having suppressed the word "like." — Andre Breton

Surrealism is based on the belief in the omnipotence of dreams, in the undirected play of thought. — Andre Breton

Surrealism in painting amounted to little more than the contents of a meagerly stocked dream world: a few witty fantasies, mostly wet dreams and agoraphobic nightmares. — Susan Sontag

Life is all there is. And if that’s true, then we have to really live it — we have to take it for everything it has and ‘die enormous’ instead of ‘living dormant.’ — Jay-Z

A painting is never finished — it simply stops in interesting places. — Dan Sullivan

One of the most surreal moments in this election was after the third debate, when I heard a talking head say, Al Gore won on substance, on the issues. But you have to give the victory to Bush because he seems presidential. — Bradley Whitford

Surrealism is the magical surprise of finding a lion in a wardrobe, where you were 'sure' of finding shirts. — Frida Kahlo

Impressionism Quotes

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To my mind, a picture should be something pleasant, cheerful, and pretty, yes pretty! There are too many unpleasant things in life as it is without creating still more of them. — Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Abstract expressionism quote

Impressionism is the newspaper of the soul. — Henri Matisse

Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she is mine for life. — Muriel Spark

There is a young and impressionable mind out there that is hungry for information. It has latched on to an electronic tube as its main source of nourishment. — Joan Ganz Cooney

The writers who have the deepest influence on one are those one reads in ones more impressionable, early life, and often it is the more youthful works of those writers that leave the deepest imprint. — J. M. Coetzee

The most authentic Russian Impressionism leaves one perplexed if one compares it with Monet and Pissarro. Here, in the Louvre, before the canvases of Manet, Millet and others, I understood why my alliance with Russia and Russian art did not take root. — Marc Chagall

Art, to me, is the interpretation of the impression which nature makes upon the eye and brain. — Childe Hassam

One morning, one of us ran out of the black, it was the birth of Impressionism. — Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Impressionism means taking inspiration directly from nature, trusting your senses rather than what you think you know. — Michael McClure

For children in their most impressionable years, there is, in fantasy, the highest of stimulating and educational powers. — Arthur Rackham

Avant Garde Art Quotes

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If I paint like a barbarian, it's because we live in a barbarous age — Karel Appel

The main trouble with avant-garde art and literature, from the point of view of fascists and Stalinists, is not that they are too critical, but that they are too "innocent," that it is too difficult to inject effective propaganda, that kitsch is more pliable to this end. — Clement Greenberg

I've always enjoyed feeling a connection to the avant-garde, such as Dada and surrealism and pop art. The only thing the artist can do is be honest with themselves and make the art they want to make. That's what I've always done. — Jeff Koons

You might argue that the history of contemporary art is a series of avant-garde movements, each new wave outraging the last. — Michael Scott

Avant-garde is French for bullshit — John Lennon

Dance in this century has remained primarily a personal ritual operating, like most avant-garde art, as an idiosyncratic form rather than a tribal expression of religious powers or a corporate expression of societal values. — Jamake Highwater

I didn't set out to do something different so much as do something that interested me. I wasn't trying to be avant-garde - that's being fashionable. You don't set out to revolutionize art, you make statements for yourself. — Arnold Newman

I think that music is a very difficult art form in which to be avant-garde. When we sit down to listen to a piece of music, I think our implicit hope is that we're going to find it beautiful, or at least emotional, on some level. — Steven Soderbergh

In my home country, there was a little shop with old books, but it was really in the countryside. You couldn't find English books. I found this very avant-garde American art book that had information about Georgia O'Keeffe. I was very much impressed by her. — Yayoi Kusama

Experiment - exercising to see the result. We planned Europa not as an experiment in this sense but as a work of art. Yet The Eye and the Ear was done as a consciously designed experiment. Not every avant-garde dealt with experiments and not every experiment equalled avant-garde. — Stefan Themerson

Modern Art Quotes

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Architecture is the will of an epoch translated into space. — Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Neckties satisfy modern man's desire to dress in art. — Harry Anderson

We dance for laughter, we dance for tears, we dance for madness, we dance for fears, we dance for hopes, we dance for screams, we are the dancers, we create the dreams. — Albert Einstein

It was not very easy for a woman to impose herself as a modern artist in Germany… Most of our male colleagues continued for a long time to look upon us as charming and gifted amateurs, denying us implicitly any real professional status. — Hannah Hoch

To say the word Romanticism is to say modern art - that is, intimacy, spirituality, color, aspiration towards the infinite, expressed by every means available to the arts. — Charles Baudelaire

Abstract expressionism quote

A leader leads by example not by force. — Sun Tzu

Know the enemy and know yourself. — Sun Tzu

I really like the city of Vienna. I like its art, its music and its architecture. In short, I like the culture that Vienna represents. What really captures me is the period around 1900 - the time of Freud, Schnitzler and Klimt. This is the period in which the modern view of mind was born. — Eric Kandel

Beauty or beast, the modern skyscraper is a major force with a strong magnetic field. It draws into its physical being all of the factors that propel and characterize modern civilization. The skyscraper is the point where art and the city meet. — Ada Louise Huxtable

Skill without imagination is craftsmanship and gives us many useful objects such as wickerwork picnic baskets. Imagination without skill gives us modern art. — Tom Stoppard

People Writing About Abstract Expressionism

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Name Quotes Likes
Read quotes by Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock
quotes on art, his art and life

76 1292
Read quotes by Piet Mondrian

Piet Mondrian
quotes on art, education and love

42 541
Read quotes by Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko
quotes on art, life and education

52 1325
Read quotes by Henry Flynt

Henry Flynt
quotes on education, leadership and love

17 170
Read quotes by Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso
quotes on art, love and cubism

440 6592
Read quotes by Juan Goytisolo

Juan Goytisolo
quotes on love, education and life

16 114

More Abstract Expressionism Quotes

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I think more than writers, the major influences on me have been European movies, jazz, and Abstract Expressionism. — Don Delillo

Abstract Expressionism - the first American movement to have a worldwide influence - was remarkably short-lived: It heated up after World War II and was all but done for by 1960 (although visit any art school today and you'll find a would-be Willem de Kooning). — Jerry Saltz

But no one, when you stop to think, has ever equated abstract expressionism as a movement with jazz music. It's based on improvisation. The rhythms, the personal involvement, all of this is part of the jazz experience. — Romare Bearden

The modern artist... is working and expressing an inner world - in other words - expressing the energy, the motion, and other inner forces. — Jackson Pollock

There was something about the self-confession and self-confusion of Abstract expressionism - as though the man and the work were the same - that personally always put me off because at that time my focus was in the opposite direction. — Robert Rauschenberg

When I am in my painting, I'm not aware of what I'm doing. — Jackson Pollock

When I'm painting, I'm not aware of what I'm doing. It's only after a get acquainted period that I see what I've been about. I've no fears about making changes for the painting has a life of its own. — Jackson Pollock

I'm very representational some of the time, and a little all of the time. But when you're painting out of your unconscious, figures are bound to emerge. — Jackson Pollock

Abstract expressionism was the first American art that was filled with anger as well as beauty. — Robert Motherwell

Abstract Expressionism was invented by New York drunks. — Joni Mitchell

The abstract has no emotional content... the abstract is more powerful the more abstract it is. — Cecil Balmond

Every art critic and every writer doesn't have a frame to start off from. If I made a statement saying, "This is Abstract Expressionism," they could go, "Well, he failed miserably," or, "Fantastic, this is a new genius!" But in art history, I don't see any of the artists I like spewing bullshit. I don't see anyone recording it or pronouncing what they were doing. — Damian Loeb

Food became, for dinner parties in the sixties, what abstract expressionism had been in the fifties. — Nora Ephron

I don't use the accident - 'cause I deny the accident — Jackson Pollock

We live in an age when the traditional great subjects - the human form, the landscape, even newer traditions such as abstract expressionism - are daily devalued by commercial art. — Andy Warhol

I would be constantly brought up on the carpet by these teachers who were brought up with Abstract Expressionism, saying, "You're too uptight, you're not expressing yourself, why don't you feel freer?" I said, "Well, I don't like that stuff. It means nothing to me." — Paul Laffoley

I went to the Mary Lee Burbank School in Belmont. And it was a place where you, like, learned to go to the store? And I was saying, Oh God, I want to learn something else. I wanted to learn to read and write better and do mathematics better. They were very much into Abstract Expressionism and that artsy stuff. And where most kids did what I call meaningless blobs, I could render perfectly. — Paul Laffoley

You have to act and this is something that happened in abstract expressionism too, it was a discovery particularly in De Kooning's paintings, great paintings. There's a lot of speed in his work and the speed produces things that only speed can produce. — Michael Snow

I wanted to be a painter, somewhere between Abstract Expressionism and Pop. — Aaron Huey

In Conclusion

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