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Directory of Mark Twain's maxims, quotations, and various opinions:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z



ART

caricature
From LIFE magazine, July 5, 1906
It is a gratification to me to know that I am ignorant of art, and ignorant also of surgery. Because people who understand art find nothing in pictures but blemishes, and surgeons and anatomists see no beautiful women in all their lives, but only a ghastly stack of bones with Latin names to them, and a network of nerves and muscles and tissues.
- "Academy of Design," letter to San Francisco Alta California, July 28, 1867

Criticism is a queer thing. If I print "She was stark naked"--& then proceeded to describe her person in detail, what critic would not howl?--who would venture to leave the book on a parlor table. -- but the artist does this & all ages gather around & look & talk & point. I can't say, "They cut his head off, or stabbed him, &c" describe the blood & the agony in his face.
- Notebook #18, Feb. - Sept. 1879

Whenever I enjoy anything in art it means that it is mighty poor. The private knowledge of this fact has saved me from going to pieces with enthusiasm in front of many and many a chromo.
- "At the Shrine of St. Wagner"

I am glad the old masters are all dead, and I only wish they had died sooner.
- "Academy of Design," letter to San Francisco Alta California, July 28, 1867

A good legible label is usually worth, for information, a ton of significant attitude and expression in a historical picture.
- Life on the Mississippi

Clemens being sculpted
Clemens sitting for his portrait in alabaster
by Theresa Fedorowna Ries in Vienna 1897.
Photo courtesy of Dave Thomson.

Also see "Instructions in Art"

Also see Mark Twain Takes on Art -- Selections from an exhibition of Spring 2001 from The Mark Twain Papers of The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. Curated by Lin Salamo with the assistance of Michael B. Frank and Anh Bui.

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