Aesthetics is the philosophical study of beauty and taste.
It is pretty close to art philosophy, which is concerned with the essence of art and the concepts used to understand and assess specific works of art.
I have compiled a list of the top quotes about Aesthetics for you.
Top 10 Aesthetic Quotes
Rules of taste enforce structures of power.” – Susan Sontag.
“We find beauty not in the thing itself but in the patterns of shadows, the light and the darkness, that one thing against another creates.” – Jun’ichirō Tanizaki.
“It’s hard to combine a simple life with a love of aesthetics.” – Marty Rubin.
“There is a sort of aesthetic poverty about conservatism”. – Alan Hollinghurst, The Line of Beauty.
“I became an artist because I wanted to be an active participant in the conversation about art.” – Kamand Kojouri.
“Nothing’s perfect, the world’s not perfect. But it’s there for us, trying the best it can; that’s what makes it so damn beautiful.” – Hiromu Arakawa.
“Beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes. It is not something physical.” – Sophia Loren.
“He had never believed that spirituality had to be anemic or aesthetic.” – Irving Stone, The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo.
“The darkening of the world makes the irrationality of art rational: radically darkened art.” – Theodor W. Adorno, Aesthetic Theory.
“Art is the social antithesis of society, not directly deducible from it.” – Theodor W. Adorno, Aesthetic Theory.
Quotes about Aesthetics
“Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.” – Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray.
“Art is the imposing of a pattern on experience, and our aesthetic enjoyment is recognition of the pattern.” – Alfred North Whitehead.
“Aestheticism is the garbage of intuitive feeling.” – Kazimir Severinovich Malevich.
“Needing to have reality confirmed and experience enhanced by photographs is an aesthetic consumerism to which everyone is now addicted. Industrial societies turn their citizens into image-junkies; it is the most irresistible form of mental pollution.” – Susan Sontag
“In so far as the mind sees things in their eternal aspect, it participates in eternity.” – Baruch de Spinoza, Spinoza in der europäischen Geistesgeschichte.
“In the life of the individual, an aesthetic sensibility is both more authentic and more commendable than a political or religious one.” – Tom Robbins.
“Color directly influences the soul. Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another purposively, to cause vibrations in the soul.” – Wassily Kandinsky, Concerning the Spiritual in Art.
“Aesthetics have substantial political consequences. How one views oneself as beautiful or not beautiful or desirable or not desirable has deep consequences in terms of one’s feelings of self-worth and one’s capacity to be a political agent.” – Cornel West, Breaking Bread: Insurgent Black Intellectual Life.
Top Aesthetic Quotes
“Any great art work … revives and readapts time and space, and the measure of its success is the extent to which it makes you an inhabitant of that world – the extent to which it invites you in and lets you breathe its strange, special air.” – Leonard Bernstein.
“All efforts to make politics aesthetic culminate in one thing, war.” – Walter Benjamin
“It was one of God’s jokes that such a dumb mind had been put in such an eloquent body.” – Charlaine Harris, Dead Until Dark
“I think that’s what art is: art is communication made in the hope that interesting miscommunications will arise.” – Misha Glouberman
“In the world there exists no aesthetic plane, not even the aesthetic plane of goodness.” – Clarice Lispector, The Passion According to G.H.
“Christianity has from its beginning portrayed itself as a gospel of peace, a way of reconciliation (with God, with other creatures), and a new model of human community, offering the ‘peace which passes understanding’ to a world enmeshed in sin and violence. (1)” – David Bentley Hart
“To the man who loves art for its own sake, it is frequently in its least important and lowliest manifestations that the keenest pleasure is to be derived.” – Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Copper Beeches.
“Desire for beauty will endure and undermine the desire for truth.” – Richard O. Prum, The Evolution of Beauty
“Fascism is fundamentally and at bottom an aesthetic conception, and . . . it is your function as creators of beautiful things to portray with the greatest efficacy the sublime beauty and inevitable reality of the Fascist ideal.” – Louis de Bernières, Corelli’s Mandolin.
Great Aesthetic Quotes
“God’s pleasure–the beauty creation possesses in his regard–underlies the distinct being of creation, and so beauty is the first and truest word concerning all that appears within being; beauty is the showing of what is; God looked upon what he had wrought and saw that it was good.” – David Bentley Hart, The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth
“At last everything was satisfactorily arranged, and I could not help admiring the setting: these mingled touches betrayed on a small scale the inspiration of a poet, the research of a scientist, the good taste of an artist, the gourmet’s fondness for good food, and the love of flowers, which concealed in their delicate shadows a hint of the love of women”. – August Strindberg, Madman’s Defence
“Christ is a persuasion, a form evoking desire, and the whole force of the gospel depends upon the assumption that this persuasion is also peace: that the desire awakened by the shape of Christ and his church is one truly reborn as agape, rather than merely the way in which a lesser force succumbs to a greater, as an episode in the endless epic of power. (3)” – David Bentley Hart, The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth.
Famous Aesthetic Quotes
“In my box of sound bites there are no jackhammers, no snowmobiles, no Jet Skis, no children wailing. Music but no Muzak. It’s my box. Put what you want in yours.” – Joan Oliver Goldsmith, How Can We Keep from Singing: Music and the Passionate Life.
“They walked on rather aimlessly. He hoped she wouldn’t notice he was touched, because he wouldn’t have known how to explain why. Here lay the great discrepancy between aesthetic truth and sleazy reality.” – Patrick White, The Vivisector.
“Let a thing be but a sort of punctual surprise, like the first cache of violets in March, let it be delicate, painted and gratuitous, hinting that the Creator is solely occupied with aesthetic considerations, and combines disparate objects simply because they look so well together, and that thing will admirably fill the role of a flower.” – Hope Mirrlees, Lud-in-the-Mist.
“The aesthetic can have its revenge upon ideology by revealing a power to complicate that is also a power to undermine.” – Murray Krieger
“What is especially striking and remarkable is that in fundamental physics a beautiful or elegant theory is more likely to be right than a theory that is inelegant.” – Murray Gell-Mann
“With the plundered people transferring their energies into relaxed and receptive thoughts, degradation and lust for power produced art.” – Peter Weiss, The Aesthetics of Resistance, Vol. 1
“In the past an artist produced things that were necessary socially; they were instruments, albeit of a special kind, that helped the dead reach eternity, spells to be cast, prayers to be liturgically fleshed. . . . The aesthetic component of those instruments enhanced their function but was never central, never an independent, non utilitarian thing.” – Stanisław Lem, Highcastle: A Remembrance.
Powerful Aesthetic Quotes
“[I]t was [Barnett] Newman who made the famously wry remark, “Aesthetics is for the artist as ornithology is for the birds,” – Ross Wetzsteon, Republic of Dreams: Greenwich Village: The American Bohemia 1910-1960
“For if indeed God became a man, then Truth condescended to became a truth, from whose historical contingency one cannot simply pass to categories of universal rationality; and this means that whatever Christians mean when they speak of truth, it cannot involve simply the dialectical wrestling of abstract principles from intractable facts. (5)” – David Bentley Hart, The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth
“Satanism, in principle, is a perverse projection of the Law into matter. Therefore, even this path has its aesthetic elements. For there are also artists of evil, artists who can give flowing blood the magic of a crimson evening afterglow—adepts of delusion, who with a mere sight, evoke the seductive song of Death and loathsome orgies turn into a wild cascade of ardent memories.” – Pierre de Lasenic, Sexual Mysteries: Oriental Love & Sexual Magic.
“While we kept on dancing our souls delicately embraced.” – Laura Chouette.
“With the birth of the aesthetic, then, the sphere of art itself begins to suffer something of the abstraction and formalization characteristic of modern theory in general; yet the aesthetic is nevertheless thought to retain a charge of irreducible particularity, providing us with a kind of paradigm of what a non-alienated mode of cognition might look like. Aesthetics is thus always a contradictory, self-undoing sort of project, which in promoting the theoretical value of its object risks emptying it of exactly that specificity or ineffability which was thought to rank among its most precious features. The very language which elevates art offers perpetually to undermine it.” – Terry Eagleton, The Ideology of the Aesthetic
“Some models are actually very weird-looking.” – A.D. Aliwat, In Limbo
“In the arts terms frequently cross boundaries, as when the concept of metaphor transfers from literature to architecture. The strict deﬁnition of metaphor is that it describes a link between disparate concepts that avoids ‘like’ or ‘as’. There is no point-to-point correspondence, the association being on the level of suggestion rather than simile – ‘I see a cloud that’s dragonish . . .’ // A metaphor creates a bridge across unexplored territory, connecting two unlikely entities. The aesthetic ‘spark’ is generated by the novelty or poignancy of the association; the arcing across conceptual space. The emotional reward comes from the recognition of a new pattern of relationship. The phenomenon of metaphor operates in parallel with the formal aesthetic qualities of a building being a variation on the theme of binary aesthetics, introducing the poetic element into architecture.” – Peter F. Smith, Dynamics of Delight.
“Camp taste is a kind of love, love for human nature. It relishes, rather than judges, the little triumphs and awkward intensities of “character.” – Susan Sontag, Against Interpretation and Other Essays.
“But neither art nor aesthetics is alone in being doomed to this melancholy destiny of living not beyond their means, but beyond their ends.” – Jean Baudrillard, The Intelligence of Evil or the Lucidity Pact.
“The philosophical attitudes of awe and wonder of the Ancient Greeks and the Enlightenment Philosophy of Kant have been inverted into the “modern” moods of terror and boredom.” – Michael R.D. James, The World Explored the World Suffered.
“Human impotence necessitates art.” – Teufel Damon.
“I, Stereotype: Detained in the Uncanny Valley” – Seo-Young Chu, Techno-Orientalism: Imagining Asia in Speculative Fiction, History, and Media.
“Experiments had shown that an atom is like a small solar system: the mass is concentrated in a heavy central nucleus, around which light electrons revolve, more or less like planets around the Sun.” – Carlo Rovelli, Reality is Not What it Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity
“To start, the sculptor stands before the unwrought block, the pure material which comprises every possibility. The material answers to the chisel; it can destroy, or deliver the spiritual power of life-giving water from out of the rock. “We do not dislike everything that shines, but we do prefer a pensive lustre to a shallow brilliance, a murky light that, whether in a stone or an artifact, bespeaks a sheen of antiquity. . . . we do love things that bear the marks of grime, soot, and weather, and we love the colours and the sheen that call to mind the past that made them”.” – Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, In Praise of Shadows
“And honestly, the thing is… there is something special about those monuments. Despite how we might apply our own individual thoughts and interpretations to them… Even if they wrote books filled with precise explanations about how and why Gaudi did things the way he did… there would still be something pure in his work that will never change. Something no scholar could ever explain. Something those crimes could not erase. Something like… a spirit. Like a dream buried in time. A life.” – El Torres, The Ghost of Gaudi
“We want one man to be always thinking, and another to be always working, and we call one a gentleman, and the other an operative; whereas the workman ought often to be thinking, and the thinker often to be working, and both should be gentlemen, in the best sense. As it is, we make both ungentle, the one envying, the other despising, his brother; and the mass of society is made up of morbid thinkers and miserable workers. Now it is only by labor that thought can be made healthy, and only by thought that labor can be made happy, and the two cannot be separated with impunity.” – John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice.
“What is most beautiful in virile men is something feminine; what is most beautiful in feminine women is something masculine.” – Susan Sontag
“In going to the cross, Jesus was not being practical; he was being faithful. Jesus didn’t take a pragmatic approach to the problem of evil; Jesus took an aesthetic approach to the problem of evil. Jesus chose to absorb the ugliness of evil and turn it into something beautiful—the beauty of forgiveness.” – Brian Zahnd, Beauty Will Save the World: Rediscovering the Allure and Mystery of Christianity.
Inspiring Aesthetic Quotes
“There is an expression in Japanese that says that someone who makes things of poor quality is in fact worse than a thief because he doesn’t make things that will last or provide true satisfaction. A thief at least redistributes the wealth of a society.” – Andrew Juniper, Wabi Sabi: The Japanese Art of Impermanence
“I think my show was more beautiful. Like, it would have made for prettier pictures on Insta. But now, we’re gonna have way better memes.” – Carlos Hernandez, Sal and Gabi Fix the Universe
“I do not believe that there is anything inherently and unavoidably ugly about industrialism. A factory or even a gasworks is not obliged of its own nature to be ugly, any more than a palace or a dog-kennel or a cathedral. . . . But in any case, though the ugliness of industrialism is the most obvious thing about it and the thing every newcomer exclaims against, I doubt whether it is centrally important. And perhaps it is not even desirable, industrialism being what it is, that it should learn to disguise itself as something else. As Mr Aldous Huxley has truly remarked, a dark Satanic mill ought to look like a dark Satanic mill and not like the temple of mysterious and splendid gods. Moreover, even in the worst of the industrial towns one sees a great deal that is not ugly in the narrow aesthetic sense. A belching chimney or a stinking slum is repulsive chiefly because it implies warped lives and ailing children. Look at it from a purely aesthetic standpoint and it may have a certain macabre appeal. I find that anything outrageously strange generally ends by fascinating me even when I abominate it.” – George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier
“The starry sky began to shine, when assigned night spread with its ‘moon lamp’ for all of the wistful thoughts,lay below the tormented Earth’s nocturnal light and those splendid visions caught my pounding spirits.” – Nithin Purple, Venus and Crepuscule: Beauty and Violence on Me Thrown
“The masses have a right to change property relations; Fascism seeks to give them an expression while preserving property. The logical result of Fascism is the introduction of aesthetics into political life. The violation of the masses, whom Fascism, with its Führer cult, forces to their knees, has its counterpart in the violation of an apparatus which is pressed into the production of ritual values.” – Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.
Best Aesthetic Quotes
“Fiat ars – pereat mundus”, says Fascism, and, as Marinetti admits, expects war to supply the artistic gratification of a sense perception that has been changed by technology. This is evidently the consummation of “l’art pour l’art.” Mankind, which in Homer’s time was an object of contemplation for the Olympian gods, now is one for itself. Its self-alienation has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order. This is the situation of politics which Fascism is rendering aesthetic. Communism responds by politicizing art.” – Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
“The historical division between the beautiful and the sublime indicates that an aesthetic experience is not necessarily linked to beauty, but can also be induced by the unpleasant, unbalanced, distorted, or even hideous.” – Kristine H. Harper, Aesthetic Sustainability – Product Design and Sustainable Usage.
“The flower is strong in its beauty as it can be forgotten, set aside, or destroyed. The ambitious do not know beauty. The feeling of essence is beauty.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti, On God
“A religious person is able to see the ‘gods’ in a dewdrop, a flower, a falling star, an animal which crosses his path, a sunbeam. When this happens, he has a total experience. But if he adopts an aesthetic attitude towards this flower or this dewdrop, he looks at only one aspect. The aesthetic attitude is a partial attitude. Such an attitude protects against an abundance of other sensations and is therefore per definition one-sided and superficial.” – Tjeu Van Den Berk, Jung on Art: The Autonomy of the Creative Drive
“The great has terror for its basis… the beautiful is founded on mere positive pleasure…” – Edmund Burke, On Taste On the Sublime & Beautiful Reflections on the French Revolution A Letter to a Noble.
Popular Aesthetic Quotes
“In simple words, ‘Beauty’ is what gladdens the heart. Neither a symmetrical face nor a shapely body – If the sight of you generates happiness, you’re beautiful.” – Adeel Ahmed Khan
“The ability to live a sensual lifestyle signals that an individual has become adept at overcoming the constraints of daily life and has entered into a privileged world where the key to entry is no longer the functional, but the aesthetic, the decadent, the passionate.” – Lebo Grand.
“Aesthetic detachment will not stop the suffering of desire nor will the agonies of the boudoir cure the desire of suffering.” – David Hosford, The Architecture of the Abyss
“The local is the only universal, upon that all art is built.” – John Dewey
“I look at Jane for a long time and a slow smile creeps over her face. Her whole face changes when she smiles–this eyebrow-lifting, perfect-teeth-showing, eye-crinkling smile I’ve either never seen or never noticed. She becomes pretty so suddenly that it’s almost like a magic trick– but it’s not like I want her or anything. Not to sound like a jerk, but Jane isn’t really my type. Her hair’s kinda disastrously curly and she mostly hangs out with guys. My type’s a little girlier. And honestly, I don’t even like my type of girl that much, let alone other types. Not that I’m asexual– I just find Romance Drama unbearable.” – John Green.
“The ideal of “working exactly” is also inherent in the historical disciplines. Art historians pursue it, above all, in order to avoid the baleful contact with aesthetics; and often exert themselves merely to say what happened after what– and nothing more than that.” – Heinrich Wölfflin
“We pay a small fortune for a variegated monstera whose epidermis is unevenly colored. However, we pay a small fortune for skin creams that promise to make our epidermis evenly colored.” – Khang Kijarro Nguyen
“We should worry again about the connection between play-starved education and eroded mechanisms for political debate, if worry can lead beyond deadlocks. Too often, academic essays pursue analysis and critique but stop short of speculation about remedies, as if intellectual work excluded an element of creativity. In fact, essays that remain risk-averse miss the potential of the genre to “assay,” or try out, ideas.” – Doris Sommer, The Work of Art in the World: Civic Agency and Public Humanities
“Henceforth, toys are chemical in substance and colour; their very material introduces one to a coenaesthesis of use, not pleasure. These toys die in fact very quickly, and once dead, they have no posthumous life for the child.” – Roland Barthes, Mythologies
“The machine aesthetic bought something familiar to modern experience, but remote from architecture, to bear on modern architecture.” – Robin Evans, The Projective Cast: Architecture and Its Three Geometries.
“Aesthetic sense is the twin of one’s instinct for self-preservation and is more reliable than ethics.” – Joseph Brodsky, Watermark
“If I was asked to get rid of the Zen aesthetic and just keep one quality necessary to create art, I would say it’s trust. When you learn to trust yourself implicitly, you no longer need to prove something through your art. You simply allow it to come out, to be as it is. This is when creating art becomes effortless. It happens just as you grow your hair. It grows.” – John Daido Loori, The Zen of Creativity: Cultivating Your Artistic Life
“It’s very modern. Very gamine. You look like a jazz singer.” – Elizabeth Wein, The Pearl Thief
“There could be no objection to homicidal art as art. One could certainly object that an artwork made out of dead bodies is immoral, but from a purely aesthetic point of view, it could still be a rewarding aesthetic experience and hence a great work of art. (From the book Hannibal Lecter & Philosophy: The Heart Of The Matter)” – John McAteer
“It’s better to have a hunger and appreciation for beauty than to be merely beautiful. In the end, life is richer that way. She may learn that.” – Susan Vreeland, The Passion of Artemisia
This idea the Greeks had of him is best summed up not by a poet, but by a philosopher, Plato: “Love—Eros—makes his home in men’s hearts, but not in every heart, for where there is hardness he departs. His greatest glory is that he cannot do wrong nor allow it; force never comes near him. For all men serve of him their own free will. And he whom Love touches not walks in darkness.” – Edith Hamilton, Mythology
“Everything that is, must appear, and nothing can appear without a shape of its own; hence there is in fact no thing that does not in some way transcend its functional use, and its transcendence, its beauty or ugliness, is identical with appearing publicly and being seen. By the same token, namely, in its sheer worldly existence, everything also transcends the sphere of pure instrumentality once it is completed.” – Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition
“Even a colour-sense is more important, in the development of the individual, than a sense of right and wrong. Aesthetics, in fact, are to Ethics in the sphere of conscious civilisation, what, in the sphere of the external world, sexual is to natural selection. Ethics, like natural selection, make existence possible. Aesthetics, like sexual selection, make life lovely and wonderful, fill it with new forms, and give it progress, and variety and change.” – Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist.
“The aesthetics aren’t merely a side note, they’re as important as anything else.” – Sylvain Neuvel, Sleeping Giants
“A six-week trip to China in 1973 convinced me—if I needed convincing—that the autonomy of the aesthetic is something to be protected, and cherished, as indispensable nourishment to intelligence. But a decade-long residence in the 1960s, with its inexorable conversion of moral and political radicalisms into “style,” has convinced me of the perils of over- generalizing the aesthetic view of the world.” – Susan Sontag, Conversations with Susan Sontag
“Refinement creates beauty everywhere: it is the grossness of the spectator that discovers nothing but grossness in the object.” – William Hazlitt, The Plain Speaker V1: Opinions on Books, Men and Things
“By engaging with film illusions both actively and passively – as I attempt to do in this book – we strengthen the capacity of our minds to reason, imagine and think through ideas in a way unrestrained by some static conception of objective Truth. In so doing, the nihilistic gap existing between the real world and the whole variety of film worlds perhaps widens, but it also serves to offer a free, open space into which our interpretations may spill, mingle and propagate in uninhibited, nihilistic liberty.” – John Marmysz, Cinematic Nihilism: Encounters, Confrontations, Overcomings
“We sing lyrical excess, exacerbated expressionism, imponed objectivity, inventiveness, meta-baroque, extravaganza, super metaphor, sublimity, strident, exposure, super-pone, noise, super-objectivity, zillionism, fragmentation and aesthetics of facts, suractivism.” – Lepota L. Cosmo.
“Tensurrealism creates actual and non-compromised reality, jamboree, fervor, fascination, poetics of an active enthusiasm, interludium, lyrical practice, active happiness.” – Lepota L. Cosmo
“According to this view, all that matters to art appreciation is beauty of form. The logical extreme of aestheticism turns out to be homicidal art. (Taken from the book Hannibal Lecter & Philosophy: The Heart of the Matter)” – John McAteer.
“What is good is also divine. Queer as it sounds, that sums up my ethics. Only something supernatural can express the Supernatural.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein, Culture and Value
“In the psychology of aesthetics, there is a name for the moment between the anxiety of confronting something new and the satisfying click of understanding it. It is called an ‘aesthetic aha.” – Derek Thompson, Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction
“The writer has to die to give birth to the intellectual in the service of the wretched of the earth.” – Annie Cohen-Solal, Jean-Paul Sartre: A Life
“The old-fashioned sins of reading is the only sense that matters.” – Harold Bloom, The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages
“Pleading with those eyes, it’s obvious what I’m meant to do. I embrace the beauty and kiss it deeply.” – Patrick Bryant, Hum A Radiant Sickness.