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Themes in Art

Art Manifestos
Defining new realities

Art Manifestos, Themes in Art

A manifesto is a declaration of intent — often the intent to bring radical change to the world. Through history many art movements have written manifestos, and it’s always a sign that things have gotten real.

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Just a word, and the word a movement.

1st Dada Manifesto Hugo Ball, 1916

Even if someone paints a 'green sun', I will not say it is wrong.

A Green Sun Kōtarō Takamura, 1910

By eliminating everything superfluous to the technical means of their craft the Cubists finally reached the common ground where a general, synthetic culture becomes possible.

Cubism and the General Culture Albert Gleizes, 1926

We are like a raging wind that rips up the clothes of clouds and prayers, we are preparing the great spectacle of disaster, conflagration and decomposition.

Dada Manifesto Tristan Tzara, 1918

There is an old and a new consciousness of time

De Stijl Manifesto Theo van Doesburg, 1918

Elementarism is the purest, and...the most direct means of expression of the human spirit

Elementarism (Fragment of a Manifesto) Theo van Doesburg, 1927

Abandon love, abandon aestheticism, abandon the baggage of wisdom, for in the new culture, your wisdom is ridiculous and insignificant. I have untied the knots of wisdom and liberated the consciousness of color!

From Cubism and Futurism to Suprematism Kazimir Malevich, 1915

Futurist Manifesto (Print), Filippo Tommaso Marinetti

Futurist Manifesto (Print) Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, 1909

One must not look at color by itself, but in conjunction with the color of the sky! That sky is grey - but so iridescent that even our pure white would be unable to render the light and shimmer.

Letter to Theo: on solidarity and the color of the sky Vincent Van Gogh, 1883

Just as the ancients drew inspiration for their art from the elements of nature, we—who are materially and spiritually artificial—must find that inspiration in the elements of the utterly new mechanical world we have created.

Manifesto of Futurist Architecture Antonio Sant'Elia, 1914

We will declare war on all artists and institutions which insist a façade of false modernity...they are ensnared by tradition, academicism and nauseating cerebral laziness.

Manifesto of the Futurist Painters Umberto Boccioni, 1910

Now which is the worse defect? to be blind or dumb?

Paragone of Poetry and Painting Leonardo da Vinci, 1500

Art for life and even more—life for art!

Rayonists and Futurists: A Manifesto Natalia Goncharova, 1913

Painting is an essentially concrete art and can only consist of the representation of real and existing things

Realist Manifesto — An Open Letter Gustave Courbet, 1861

Space and time are re-born to us today

Realistic Manifesto Naum Gabo, Antoine Pevsner, 1920

Realistic Manifesto, Broadside, Naum Gabo

Realistic Manifesto, Broadside Naum Gabo, Antoine Pevsner, 1920

The essential character of symbolic art consists in never approaching the concentrated kernel of the Idea in itself.

Symbolist Manifesto Jean Moréas, first published in Le Figaro, 1886

The motor bus rushes into the houses, and the houses throw themselves on the motor bus. The construction of pictures has hitherto been foolishly traditional.

Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painting Umberto Boccioni, 1910

How can generations of sculptors can continue to construct dummies without asking why the exhibition halls of sculpture have become reservoirs of boredom and nausea?

Technical Manifesto of Futurist Sculpture Umberto Boccioni, 1912

Ancient life was all silence. Today, Noise reigns supreme over the sensibility of men.

The Art of Noises Luigi Russolo, 1913

This is how we decompose and recompose the universe according to our marvelous whims

The Futurist Cinema Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, 1916

Literature has exalted pensive immobility, ecstasy, and sleep. We exalt aggressive action, a feverish insomnia...The world’s magnificence has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed.

The Futurist Manifesto Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, 1909

Total fusion in order to reconstruct the universe making it more joyful

The Futurist Reconstruction of the Universe Giacomo Balla, Fortunato Depero, 1915

I could spend my whole life prying loose the secrets of the insane. These people are honest to a fault, and their naiveté has no peer but my own.

The Manifesto of Surrealism André Breton, 1924

The Painter of Modern Life, Impressionism

The Painter of Modern Life Charles Baudelaire, 1863

The simplest Surrealist act consists of dashing down the street, pistol in hand, and firing blindly, as fast as you can pull the trigger, into the crowd.

The Second Manifesto of Surrealism - Selections André Breton, 1929

Futurist poets, painters, sculptors, and musicians of Italy! As long as the war lasts let us set aside our verse, our brushes, scapels, and orchestras! The red holidays of genius have begun!

War, the World's Only Hygiene Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, 1915

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100 Artists' Manifestos, Recommended Reading

Manifestos are written when the world is a mess, humans are apathetic, and change is needed. Here are 100 examples to inspire your own.

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