Only conservatives believe that subversion is still being carried on in the arts and that society is being shaken by it. . . . Advanced art today is no longer a cause -- it contains no moral imperative. There is no virtue in clinging to principles and standards, no vice in selling or in selling out.
Today, each artist must undertake to invent himself, a lifelong act of creation that constitutes the essential content of the artistís work. The meaning of art in our time flows from this function of self-creation. Art is the laboratory for making new men.
What better way to prove that you understand a subject than to make money out of it?
Avant-gardism is an addiction that can be appeased only by a revolution in permanence.
America is the civilization of people engaged in transforming themselves. In the past, the stars of the performance were the pioneer and the immigrant. Today, it is youth and the Black.
The values to which the conservative appeals are inevitably caricatured by the individuals designated to put them into practice.
Whoever undertakes to create soon finds himself engaged in creating himself. Self-transformation and the transformation of others have constituted the radical interest of our century, whether in painting, psychiatry, or political action.
One of the grotesqueries of present-day American life is the amount of reasoning that goes into displaying the wisdom secreted in bad movies while proving that modern art is meaningless. . . . They have put into practise the notion that a bad art work cleverly interpreted according to some obscure Method is more rewarding than a masterpiece wrapped in silence.
The purpose of education is to keep a culture from being drowned in senseless repetitions, each of which claims to offer a new insight.
Kitsch is the daily art of our time, as the vase or the hymn was for earlier generations. For the sensibility it has that arbitrariness and importance which works take on when they are no longer noticeable elements of the environment. In America kitsch is Nature. The Rocky Mountains have resembled fake art for a century.
Politics in the United States consists of the struggle between those whose change has been arrested by success or failure, on one side, and those who are still engaged in changing themselves, on the other. Agitators of arrested metamorphosis versus agitators of continued metamorphosis. The former have the advantage of numbers (since most people accept themselves as successes or failures quite early), the latter of vitality and visibility (since self-transformation, though it begins from within, with ideology, religion, drugs, tends to express itself publicly through costume and jargon).
The differences between revolution in art and revolution in politics are enormous. . . . Revolution in art lies not in the will to destroy but in the revelation of what has already been destroyed. Art kills only the dead.
American time has stretched around the world. It has become the dominant tempo of modern history, especially of the history of Europe.
The story of Americans is the story of arrested metamorphoses. Those who achieve success come to a halt and accept themselves as they are. Those who fail become resigned and accept themselves as they are.
Memorable Quotations: Critics (A - L)
Memorable Quotations: Critics (M - Z)