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Themes in Art

Manifestos

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. 

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

Paragone of Poetry and Painting

Leonardo da Vinci1500

Therefore one day it will come to pass, that the mouth of those vipers will be stopped and the triple crown will be brought to nought

The Rosicrucian Manifestos

1616

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

Realist Manifesto — An Open Letter

Gustave Courbet1861

The Painter of Modern Life

Charles Baudelaire1863

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 Gogh1883

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

Symbolist Manifesto

1886

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 Marinetti1909

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

A Green Sun

Kōtarō Takamura1910

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 Boccioni1910

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 Boccioni1910

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 Boccioni1912

Art for life and even more—life for art!

Rayonists and Futurists: A Manifesto

Natalia Goncharova1913

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

The Art of Noises

Luigi Russolo1913

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'Elia1914

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 Malevich1915

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 Marinetti1915

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

The Futurist Cinema

Filippo Tommaso Marinetti1916

Just a word, and the word a movement.

1st Dada Manifesto

Hugo Ball1916

There is an old and a new consciousness of time

De Stijl Manifesto

Theo van Doesburg1918

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 Tzara1918

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 Breton1924

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 Gleizes1926

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

Elementarism (Fragment of a Manifesto)

Theo van Doesburg1927

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 Breton1929

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