"...when you come right down to it we're in love with beauty. You wouldn't think that's what everyone's actually involved with, but I don't know what other significance all this fucking noise could be about, do you? And I think civilization, as currently understood, ought to shut the fuck up and inquire more deeply into what this preoccupation with beauty might mean. If possible before it's too late, you know what I'm saying?"

-Rafi Zabor, 'The Bear Comes Home'

"In the Middle Ages.... There was available for imitation a universally valid conceptual reality, whose order the artist could not tamper with. The subject matter of art was prescribed by those who commissioned works of art, which were not created, as in bourgeois society, on speculation. Precisely because his content was determined in advance, the artist was free to concentrate on his medium. He needed not to be philosopher, or visionary, but simply artificer. As long as there was general agreement as to what were the worthiest subjects for art, the artist was relieved of the necessity to be original and inventive in his 'matter' and could devote all his energy to formal problems. For him the medium became, privately, professionally, the content of his art, even as his medium is today the public content of the abstract painter's art - with that difference, however, that the medieval artist had to suppress his professional preoccupation in public - had always to suppress and subordinate the personal and professional in the finished, official work of art. If, as an ordinary member of the Christian community, he felt some personal emotion about his subject matter, this only contributed to the enrichment of the work's public meaning. Only with the Renaissance do the inflections of the personal become legitimate, still to be kept, however, within the limits of the simply and universally recognizable. And only with Rembrandt do 'lonely' artists begin to appear, lonely in their art. But even during the Renaissance, and as long as Western art was endeavoring to perfect its technique, victories in this realm could only be signalized by success in realistic imitation, since there was no other objective criterion at hand. Thus the masses could still find in the art of their masters objects of admiration and wonder."

- Clement Greenburg, 'Avant-Garde & Kitsch'

- Dave Hickey, 'The Invisible Dragon'

"I consider all the things I work with attractive to me, whether they repulse me or not, I still am very, very attracted to them."

- Matthew Barney, 'ART 21'

"For that which was written document is to those who can read, that a picture is to the unlettered who look at it. Even the unlearned see in that what course they ought to follow; even those who don't know the alphabet can read there."

- Pope Gregory I

"An intellectual is a man who says a simple thing in a difficult way; an artist is a man who says a difficult thing in a simple way."

- Charles Bukowski, 'The Most Beautiful Woman in Town'

"Philosophy always comes on the scene too late to give instruction as to what the world ought to be. As the thought of the world, it appears only when actuality is already there, cut and dried, after its process of formation has been completed... When philosophy paints its grey on grey, then a shape of life has grown old. It cannot be rejuvenated by philosophy's grey on grey; it can only be understood. It is only with the fall of dusk that the owl of Minerva spreads its wings."

- G. F. W. Hegel, 'Phenomenology of Right'


Thomas Cummins art philosophy