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Art and Artists - The Insults of Oscar Wilde

Admirable as are Mr. Whistler's fireworks on canvas, his fire-works in prose are abrupt, violent and exaggerated.
THE NEW PRESIDENT [OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF BRITISH ARTISTS]
After playing Chopin, I feel as if I had been weeping over sins that I had never committed, and mourning over tragedies that were not my own. Music always seems to produce that effect.
THE CRITIC AS ARTIST
All bad art comes from returning to Life and Nature, and elevating them into ideals.
THE DECAY OF LYING
An artist, sir, has no ethical sympathies at all. Virtue and wickedness are to him simply what the colours in his palette are to the painter.
DEFENCE OF DORIAN GRAY
An artist's heart is in his head.
THE MODEL MILLIONAIRE
Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has ever known.
THE SOUL OF MAN UNDER SOCIALISM
Art never expresses anything but itself.
THE DECAY OF LYING
As a method Realism is a complete failure, and the two things that every artist should avoid are modernity of form and modernity of subject-matter.
THE DECAY OF LYING
As a rule, people who act lead the most commonplace life.
THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY
As for Sir Frederick Leighton, he has rarely been seen to more advantage than in the specimen of his work that Mr. Furniss has so kindly provided for him. His 'Pygmalion and Galatea in the Lowther Arcadia' (No. 49) has all that wax-doll grace of treatment that is so characteristic of his best work, and is eminently suggestive of the President's earnest and continual struggles to discover the difference between chalk and colour.
THE ROUT OF THE R[OYAL] A[CADEMY]
As long as a painter is a painter merely, he should not be allowed to talk of anything but mediums and megilp, and on those subjects should be compelled to hold his tongue.
MR. WHISTLER'S TEN O'CLOCK
Bad artists always admire each other's work. They call it being large-minded and free from prejudice.
THE CRITIC AS ARTIST
Elsewhere on the walls of this delightful exhibition we notice... the Leslies and the Marcus Stones have all that faint and fading prettiness that makes us long for the honest ugliness of naturalism; of the work of that poetic school of artists, who imagine that the true way of idealising a sitter is to paint the portrait of somebody else.
THE ROUT OF THE R[OYAL] A[CADEMY]
For an artist to marry his model is as fatal as for a gourmet to marry his cook, the one gets no sittings, and the other gets no dinners.
LONDON MODELS
For that he [Whistler] is indeed one of the very greatest masters of painting, is my opinion. And I may add that in this opinion Mr. Whistler himself entirely concurs.
MR. WHISTLER'S TEN O'CLOCK
I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
I like Wagner's music better than anybody's. It is so loud that one can talk the whole time without people hearing what one says.
THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY
I never talk during music, at least during good music. If one hears bad music, it is one's duty to drown it in conversation.
THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY
If one plays good music people don't listen, and if one plays bad music people don't talk.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
In a very ugly and sensible age, the arts borrow, not from life, but from each other.
THE DECAY OF LYING
In art good intentions are not the smallest value. All bad art is the result of good intentions.
DE PROFUNDIS
In fairness to the audience, however, I must say that they seemed extremely gratified at being rid of the dreadful responsibility of admiring anything, and nothing could have exceeded their enthusiasm when they were told by Mr. Whistler that no matter how vulgar their dresses were, or how hideous their surroundings at home, still it was possible that a great painter, if there was such a thing, could, by contemplating them in the twilight, and half-closing his eyes, see them under really picturesque conditions, and produce a picture which they were not to attempt to understand, much less to enjoy.
MR. WHISTLER'S TEN O'CLOCK
In New York, and even in Boston, a good model is so great a rarity that most of the artists are reduced to painting Niagara and millionaires.
LONDON MODELS
It is a consolation to know, however, that such an artist as Madame Bernhardt has not only worn that yellow, ugly dress, but has been photographed in it.
IMPRESSIONS OF AMERICA
It is only an auctioneer who should admire all schools of art.
To READ, OR NOT TO READ
It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.
THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY
Lady Hunstanton: Music makes one feel so romantic - at least it always gets on one's nerves.
Mrs Allonby: It's the same thing, nowadays.
A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
Last night, at Prince's Hall, Mr. Whistler made his first public appearance as a lecturer on art, and spoke for more than an hour with really marvellous eloquence on the absolute uselessness of all lectures of the kind.
MR. WHISTLER'S TEN O'CLOCK
Mediocrity weighing mediocrity in the balance, and incompetence applauding its brother - that is the spectacle which the artistic activity of England affords us from time to time.
THE CRITIC AS ARTIST
Most of our elderly English painters spend their wicked and wasted lives in poaching upon the domain of the poets, marring their motives by clumsy treatment, and striving to render, by visible form or colour, the marvel of what is invisible, the splendour of what is not seen.
THE CRITIC AS ARTIST
Mr. Bought's 'Newest England, Tarred with an American Brush,' is, as the catalogue remarks, somewhat low in tone, though high in price.
THE ROUT OF THE R[OYAL] A[CADEMY]
Mr. Frith, who has done so much to elevate painting to the dignity of photography, sends a series of five pictures exemplifying that difference between Virtue and Vice which moralists have never been able to discover, but which is the real basis of the great Drury Lane school of melodrama. . . The whole series is like the very finest platitude from the pulpit, and shows clearly the true value of didactic art.
THE ROUT OF THE R[OYAL] A[CADEMY]
Mr. Whistler always spelt art, and we believe still spells it, with a capital T. However, he was never dull. His brilliant wit, his caustic satire, and his amusing epigrams, or perhaps we should say epitaphs on his contemporaries made his views on art as delightful as they were misleading, and as fascinating as they were unsound.
THE NEW PRESIDENT [OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF BRITISH ARTISTS]
Musical people are so absurdly unreasonable. They always want one to be perfectly dumb at the very moment when one is longing to be absolutely deaf.
AN IDEAL HUSBAND
No; I don't want music at present. It is far too indefinite. Besides, I took the Baroness Bernstein down to dinner last night, and, though absolutely charming in every other respect, she insisted on discussing music as if it were actually written in the German language.
THE CRITIC AS ARTIST
On the whole, then, the Royal Academicians have never appeared under more favourable conditions than in this pleasant gallery. Mr. Furniss has shown that the one thing lacking in them is a sense of humour, and that, if they would not take themselves so seriously, they might produce work that would be a joy, and not a weariness, to the world. Whether or not they will profit by the lesson, it is difficult to say, for dullness has become the basis of respectability, and seriousness the only refuge of the shallow.
THE ROUT OF THE R[OYAL] A[CADEMY]
One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art.
PHRASES AND PHILOSOPHIES FOR THE USE OF THE YOUNG
People are so annoying. All my pianists look exactly like poets; and all my poets look exactly like pianists.
LORD ARTHUR SAVILE'S CRIME
She is like most artists; she is all style without any sincerity.
THE NIGHTINGALE AND THE ROSE
That an artist will find beauty in ugliness, le beau dans I'horrible, is now a commonplace of the schools, the argot of the atelier, but I strongly deny that charming people should be condemned to live with magenta ottomans and Albert blue curtains in their rooms in order that some painter may observe the side lights on the one and the values of the other.
MR. WHISTLER'S TEN O'CLOCK
The domestic virtues are not the true basis of art, though they may serve as an excellent advertisement for second-rate artists.
THE CRITIC AS ARTIST
The English models are a well-behaved and hard-working class, and if they are much more interested in artists than they are in art, a large section of the public is in the same condition, and most of our modern exhibitions seem to justify its choice.
LONDON MODELS
The English public, as a mass, takes no interest in a work of art until it is told that the work in question is immoral.
DEFENCE OF DORIAN GRAY
The moment that an artist takes notice of what other people want, and tries to supply the demand, he ceases to be an artist, and becomes a dull or an amusing craftsman, an honest or dishonest tradesman.
THE SOUL OF MAN UNDER SOCIALISM
The moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium.
THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY
The public clung with really pathetic tenacity to what I believe were the direct traditions of the Great Exhibition of international vulgarity, traditions that were so appalling that the houses in which people lived were only fit for blind people to live in.
THE SOUL OF MAN UNDER SOCIALISM
There are moments when Art almost attains to the dignity of manual labour.
THE MODEL MILLIONAIRE
There is nothing of the specialist in Mr. Whistler. . . He has done etchings with the brilliancy of epigrams, and pastels with the charm of paradoxes, and many of his portraits are pure works of fiction.
THE BUTTERFLY BOSWELL
They afterwards took me to a dancing saloon where I saw the only rational method of art criticism I have ever come across. Over the piano was printed a notice:-'Please do not shoot the pianist. He is doing his best.'
IMPRESSIONS OF AMERICA
They have degraded the visible arts into the obvious arts, and the one thing not worth looking at is the obvious.
THE CRITIC AS ARTIST
This unfortunate aphorism about Art holding the mirror up to Nature is deliberately said by Hamlet in order to convince the bystanders of his absolute insanity in all art-matters.
THE DECAY OF LYING
Trevor was a painter. Indeed, few people escape that nowadays.
THE MODEL MILLIONAIRE
We are sorry too to find an English dramatic critic misquoting Shakespeare, as we had always been of the opinion that this was a privilege reserved specially for our English actors.
A CHEAP EDITION OF A GREAT MAN
We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely. All art is quite useless.
THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY
Well, I found myself seated in a horrid little private box, with a vulgar drop-scene staring me in the face. I looked out from behind the curtain, and surveyed the house. It was a tawdry affair, all Cupids and cornucopias, like a third-rate wedding cake.
THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY
Whatever music sounds like, I am glad to say that it does not sound in the smallest degree like German.
THE CRITIC AS ARTIST

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