Did you know the concept of Adam’s Apple as a painter’s hack delves into art history? The Forbidden Fruit is never explicitly described in biblical texts, it was more about the allegory more than the fruit itself.  Some anonymous painters working for the church chose to represent it as an apple probably because they had some outside. Today, more than ever, artists must recall their role in engaging our most dominant sense with their visual expression.



Art history is a rich journey through time, showcasing human expression in art. Quotes from artists and thinkers give us insight into art impact and evolution. They reveal the beauty, challenges, and ideas behind art, connecting us across cultures and history.

quotes about what is art and Art History, Alan Avery

Art schools

“I think 60% of what you learn in art school is BS with the exception of art history. Art history is really important because that can help you develop your work. Other than that there is a lot of fluff and there’s a lot of professors trying to teach you to paint like them. It can really harm your work. Some of the greatest well-known painters did not go to art school. Leonardo Da Vinci didn’t, Van Gogh, Toulouse Lautrec, even Walt Disney you know… didn’t go to art school and look what they did”
Alan K. Avery owner Alan Avery art company

quotes about what is art and Art History, David Starkey

The word Art

“When I Hear the Word ‘Art’, I Reach for my Gun”

The language of the Arts

“Greece and Rome, the foundation of our culture is a slave culture and the entire language of the Arts to the present day (to this room) to what you do to what is behind me, to how it is regarded is conditioned by this fact”

Liberal Arts

“The Romans divided the Arts into two. There are the Arts of free men, the liberal arts that’s where the world comes from. It’s free men as opposed to slaves and these are essentially the literary arts of rhetoric, the analytical arts of logic, the imaginative arts of poetry.

Craft of slaves

“These are which were appropriate to gentlemen and the government along with the useful superior arts like medicine and architecture. The rest I’m afraid is not the liberal arts, they are the sordid arts, they are the arts of the craft of slaves”

The Renaissance

“As far as we can tell Giorgio Vasari actually invents the term The Renaissance. He certainly invents the notion of the supremacy of the arts in the ancient Roman world and its rapid collapse beginning with the age of Constantine. (…)

What he is concerned to do is to elevate one art above all others: Painting. He emphasizes the antiquity of painting. He does something else which I think is a very important clue to what I’m going to be talking about.

He emphasizes that most painters are learning also in those abstracts arts, because painting has got the terrible problem: it involves brushes, it involves pigments, canvas, wood, wet plaster, it’s horrifyingly messy.”

No Roman painters are known

“Gentlemen aren’t messy. So you’ve got to put in another little bit: they’ve got to be learned in these abstract as well the mere craftsmanship has got to be illuminated by the greater arts, the liberal arts of philosophy and poetry. (…) Vasary makes extraordinary claims for the reputation of painting in the Roman period (…)

These claims are entirely false: we know the names of no Roman painters. There is no evidence of them signed their works. The great bulk of them were slaves. They were decorators. “

Fine Art

“French has already set up an Academie des Beaux-arts in 1648: English does not have the term Fine Art until the 1760s. The earliest use of the term artist to mean a painter is 1747. It’s yesterday.

Royal academy

Now that brings us neatly to the moment at which painting steps fully under the stage in England as an acknowledged distinguished profession for which you could be a gentleman you could be regarded as an intellectual, that you could be a friend of royalty, that you could be altogether an okay person you would have to dinner and the key figure in all of this, of course, is the first president of the Royal Academy, president in 1768.

being knighted artist

Just the moment you’ve got Fine Art into the language, who is Joshua Reynolds, knighted in 1769: It is an idea that subsists only in the mind, the sight never beheld it, nor has the hand expressed it, it is an idea residing in the breast of the artist, which he is always labouring to impart and which he dies at the last without imparting ie art is conceptual

Marcel Duchamp

In his seventies, Marcel Duchamp’s become what in youth he most despised, he’s become an artist and he’s become an artist whose works are fake. Every single one of those you see in the Tate or in Moma is an industrially fake made in Milan in 1964.”

– David Starkey
– The Goldsmiths’ Company Lecture on YouTube

Quotes about what is art and art history, Elise Bell

Reclaiming Art History

“…you are a 50-year-old painter named Paul Gauguin and your newlywed wife is 13 years old. Now you know how I felt when I found out that my favorite painter was actually a colonialist pedophile”


“Our history is important: through arts, our history is quite literally laid bad visually. We see these wounds from the past eternally scarred into the canvas in the form of painting, sculpture, or performance. Before we have the words to properly communicate the horrors of our times it was through arts that it was discussed.

Toxic beautiful

I’m talking about racism, colonialism, homophobia, sexism, war, the Holocaust that is why art history is important: because it demands that we look at paintings like this, that we stir our uncomfortable toxic beautiful history right in the eye and that we critique it. That is why our history is important. Art history is our history so let’s reclaim it”
-Elise Bell, writer & founder of tabloidarthistory.com
youtube – “Where Art Thou?”


The word “art” traces its roots back to the Latin word “ars,” meaning skill or craft, which itself is derived from the Greek word “τέχνη” (techne), signifying craftsmanship, skill, or art. This origin highlights the ancient understanding of art as a skill acquired through learning and practice. In ancient times, art was closely linked to craftsmanship and practical skills used to create objects of beauty or serve religious and societal functions. As centuries passed, the concept of art evolved significantly. Let’s explore them with quotes:

quotes about what is art

Freedom or privilege

“Art is everything you don’t have to do”
-Brian Eno
Architectural Association – School of Architecture (Dec 2016)

Art gallery quotes

Marc Spiegler

“Art is not pop culture, and just because there are three times as much demand does not mean there are three times as much good art. You can distribute a sound file infinitely, or a Netflix film infinitely, but art is different. And we should always be conscious of that.”
• Interview Artnet
• Photo Artbasel

Quotes about what is art and art history, Ted Forbes

Art is defined by collective opinion

“When defining what is art, I think it’s important to remove the personal opinion from that a little bit because I think what we define as art as a society is defined by the society I know that really sounded redundant but that’s how it’s defined it’s defined by a culture of people it’s defined by a collective opinion.”
Ted Forbes “The Art of Photography”

Quotes about what is art and art history, Boris Groys

Popular Art, Avant-garde art

Popular art is made for a population consisting of spectators. Avant-garde art is made for a population consisting of artists.”
-Boris Groys “The Weak Universalism”

Quotes about what is art and art history, Elise Bell

Outside of what we already know

“Entertainment, what distinguishes it is that it happens within what we already know. Whatever our reaction: laughing, crying, getting excited… Underneath it, entertainment says “yep, the world is the way you think it is it”. And it feels great, man I love having highly skilled people or great technology or cool interesting things confirming my sense of the way things are fantastic, worth big money.


“What distinguishes art is that it happens outside of what we already know. Inherent in the artistic experience is the capacity to expand our sense of the way the world is or might be.”
-Eric Booth, Carnegie Hall

Quotes about what is art and art history, Jen Mergel

Fine Art is a label

Fine Art is as much a label as contemporary art. Really Fine Art is what you think is fine.
– Jen Mergel

Quotes about what is art and art history, Blanca Pons Sorolla

Power to decide what is art or not

“There are people who have greater power to judge what art is and what is not, which does not mean that they have a greater capacity to do so. You have the capacity; the power is given to you. Not always the most capable are those who have the power to decide on something”
– Blanca Pons-Sorolla

Quotes about what is art and art history, Leon Bolstein

Distortion of our sense of value

“There are people who think precisely because art is imaginary in some way, it isn’t real and it isn’t useful in some way, is a kind of mirage that distorts our sense of value. Famously Plato had his doubts about poetry and about certain kinds of art-making.”

Ponzi scheme

“There is a long tradition of suspicion that art, first of all, is a conceit among a very small group of human beings who try to make themselves superior through a kind of Ponzi scheme of values that they all inhabit and they exclude other people from. It’s a Ponzi scheme because it really has no value at the end of the day.”
-Leon Bolstein, Art Now (Aesthetics Across Music, Painting, Architecture, Movies, and More.) Bigthink

Quotes about what is art and art history, Seth Godin

A human being doing something

“By art obviously Marcel Duchamp nude descending a staircase, obviously Pablo Picasso, clearly Jackson Pollock, this is art: a human being doing something – it might not work – that connects us and draws us closer.”
-Seth Godin “Your Job is to Make Art – Seth Godin” at ConvertKit Craft & Commerce 2017

Quotes about what is art and art history, Tim Bengel

General interest in art

“It seems that many people have the feeling that only elite experts are allowed to have a real opinion on art.
This uncertainty of having your own opinion is shown quite well. A statistic which I saw in a presentation of art historian Magnus Resh: he presented that from 2007 to 2017 the number of annually sold artworks decreased by 20% and this even though the number of millionaires has more than doubled in the same time. So the problem is not the money and the problem is not the general interest in art.”

Definition of few experts

“I think the problem is a disconnection between the majority of people and an art world which seems to be determined by a few experts. if we would fix this disconnection and give people more confidence in their own view on art everybody would profit. In the end, only people who address their own opinion will enjoy and buy an artwork.”
-Tim Bengel, Tedx Mannheim

Quotes about what is art and art history, Victor Hugo Zayas

A kid defines art

The best answer I’ve ever heard was from an 8-year-old. And this was, of course, a very smart guy, very bright little kid, I was having dinner at my friend’s house. And this kid was just incredible and we were talking back and forth. I asked him, and without even thinking about it, he says, “Art is when you draw the heart of something.”

Amazing art definition

“And I said, “Oh, wow.” I mean, oh my God, this is amazing, you know. It was beautiful. So why should I ask anyone else?”
-Victor Hugo Zayas, Art Center College Of Design


Art interpretation is about finding what an artwork means. People sometimes argue over whether we should care about what the artist wanted to say with their work. Some think knowing the artist’s idea helps us understand the art better, while others believe everyone can have their own view of what the art means, regardless of the artist’s original intention. Here art some quotes about this:

Richard Serra Quote - Art Interpretation

No content if no engagement

“In my later work, the person who is navigating the space, his or her experience becomes the content. So, the whole subject-object relationship is reversed. The content is you! If you don’t walk into the work and engage with it, there isn’t any content. That’s really what I’ve been dealing with ever since I saw the Velazquez painting.” (Las Meninas)
– Richard Serra
Article/Interview 2008: Sean O’Hagan for The Guardian

Quotes about what is art and art history, Noël Carroll

Expanding human sympathies

“For example, there was recently that photograph of the young dead Syrian boy and I think that that photograph more than a great many newspaper editorials had had the effect of expanding the range of people who were concerned about Syrian refugees.”
Noël Carroll – Interview by Debora Puac

Quotes about what is art and art history, Tate Kids

Artist’s own things

“I think that art is cool because you can create your own things.
When I started art, I thought it was just about making it perfect, but you don’t have to care what other people say. That can still mean art to you.”
-Damilola, What is Conceptual Art? | Tate Kids

Quotes about what is art and art history, Helen Martineau

A deeper purpose

“Both artist and audience make up a work of art. Each one of us needs to come to an understanding of its deeper purpose. An artwork is not complete until it is received by others. Art lives in our response. The spectator, the listener, is as important as the doer.”
-Helen Martineau, Prodigal daughters

Quotes about what is art and art history, Brian Droicour

Covid-19 and art?

“It’s not easy to contemplate an artwork without touching your face”
-Brian Droitcour’s twitter “Standard definition”

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