Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Robert Henri

American Painter and Teacher

"Feel the dignity of a child. Do not feel superior to him, for you are not."

"When the artist is alive in any person, whatever his kind of work may be, he becomes an inventive, searching, daring, self-expressive creature. He becomes interesting to other people, He disturbs, upsets, enlightens, and opens ways for a better understanding. Where those who are not artists are trying to close the book, he opens it and there are still more pages possible."

"There are mighty few people who think what they think they think."

"No knowledge is so easily found as when it is needed."

"I am interested in art as a means of living a life; not as a means of making a living."

"A common defect of modern art study is that too many students do not know why they draw."

"A Curve does not exist in its full power until contrasted with a straight line."

"A drawing should be a verdict on the model. Don't confuse a drawing with a map."

"A great painter will know a great deal about how he did it, but still he will say, How did I do it? The real artist?s work is a surprise to himself."

"A man must be master of himself and master of his word to achieve the full realization of himself as an artist."

"A mountain seen in the haze of distance must nevertheless look a solid heavy mountain."

"A picture should be the expression of the will of the painter."

"A public which likes to hear something worthwhile when you talk would like to understand something worthwhile when it sees pictures."

"A tree growing out of the ground is as wonderful today as it ever was. It does not need to adopt new and startling methods."

"A work of art is the trace of a magnificent struggle."

"All education must be self-education."

"All my life I have refused to be for or against parties, for or against nations, for or against people. I never seek novelty or the eccentric; I do not go from land to land to contrast civilizations. I seek only, wherever I go, for symbols of greatness, and as I have already said, they may be found in the eyes of a child, in the movement of a gladiator, in the heart of a gypsy, in twilight in Ireland or in moonrise over the deserts. To hold the spirit of greatness is in my mind what the world was created for. The human body is beautiful as this spirit shines through, and art is great as it translates and embodies this spirit."

"All outward success, when it has value, is but the inevitable result of an inward success of full living, full play and enjoyment of one's faculties."

"All real works of art look as though they were done in joy."

"All the past up to a moment ago is your legacy. You have a right to it."

"All things change according to the state we are in. Nothing is fixed."

"An artist must first of all respond to his subject, he must be filled with emotion toward that subject and then he must make his technique so sincere, so translucent that it may be forgotten, the value of the subject shining through it."

"An artist must have imagination. An artist who does not use his imagination is a mechanic."

"An artist who has no imagination is a mechanic."

"An artist's job is to surprise himself. Use all means possible."

"And so all great music, great prose, everything beautiful must depend upon the sure, free measure with which it is gardened and put into language for the people, for each lovely thing has its intrinsic value and belongs in its own position for the world to study, understand and thrive upon."

"Art appreciation, like love, cannot be done by proxy."

"Art cannot be separated from life. It is the expression of the greatest need of which life is capable, and we value art not because of the skilled product, but because of its revelation of a life's experience."

"Art is an outsider, a gypsy over the face of the earth."

"Art is certainly not a pursuit for anyone who wants to make money."

"Art is the giving by each man of his evidence to the world. Those who wish to give, love to give, discover the pleasure of giving. Those who give are tremendously strong."

"Art is, after all, only a trace ? like a footprint which shows that one has walked bravely and in great happiness."

"Art need not be intended. It comes inevitably as the tree from the root, the branch from the trunk, the blossom from the twig. None of these forget the present in looking backward or forward. They are occupied wholly with the fulfillment of their own existence."

"Art tends toward balance, order, judgment of relative values, the laws of growth, the economy of living ? very good things for anyone to be interested in."

"Battle against obscurity"

"Be a warhorse for work and enjoy even the struggle against defeat."

"Be game--take a chance--don't hide behind veils and veils of discretion... Go forward with what you have to say, expressing things as you see them. You are new evidence, fresh and young. Your work, the spirit of youth, you are the progress of human evolution. If age dulls you it will be time enough then to be ponderous and heavy--or quit. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to be young, to continue growing--not to settle and accept."

"Be venturesome. Try new things that appeal to you. Examine others. Have a pioneer spirit. Prevent your drawing from being common. Put life into it."

"Beauty is an intangible thing; can not be fixed on the surface, and the wear and tear of old age on the body cannot defeat it. Nor will a pretty face make it, for pretty faces are often dull and empty, and beauty is never dull and it fills all spaces."

"Beauty is no material thing. Beauty cannot be copied. Beauty is the sensation of pleasure on the mind of the seer. No thing is beautiful. But all things await the sensitive and imaginative mind that may be aroused to pleasurable emotion at sight of them. This is beauty."

"Because we are saturated with life, because we are human, our strongest motive is life, humanity; and the stronger the motive back of the line the stronger, and therefore more beautiful, the line will be."

"Brilliancy is going toward color, not toward white."

"By my teaching I hope to inspire you to personal activity and to present your vision."

"Cherish your own emotions and never under-value them. We are not here to do what has already been done."

"Color is only beautiful when it means something."

"Concentrate on a single feature ? as, build all toward one eye ? make all lines lead toward that eye."

"Count on big lines to express your ideas."

"Develop your visual memory. Draw everything you have drawn from the model from memory as well."

"Different men are moved or left cold by lines according to the difference in their natures. What moves you is beautiful to you."

"Do whatever you do intensely."