Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Clive Bell, fully Arthur Clive Heward Bell

English Art Critic

"Art and Religion are, then, two roads by which men escape from circumstance to ecstasy. Between aesthetic and religious rapture there is a family alliance. Art and Religion are means similar states of mind."

"Only reason can convince us of those three fundamental truths without a recognition of why there can be no effective liberty: that what we believe is not necessarily true; that what we like is not necessarily good; and that all questions are open."

"A rose is the visible result of an infinitude of complicated goings on in the bosom of the earth and in the air above, and similarly a work of art is the product of strange activities in the human mind."

"All sensitive people agree that there is a peculiar emotion provoked by works of art."

"Cezanne is the Christopher Columbus of a new continent of form."

"Comfort came in with the middle classes."

"Detail is the heart of realism, and the fatty degeneration of art."

"For, to appreciate a work of art we need bring with us nothing from life, no knowledge of its ideas and affairs, no familiarity with its emotions. Art transports us from the world of man's activity to a world of aesthetic exaltation. For a moment we are shut off from human interests; our anticipations and memories are arrested; we are lifted above the stream of life."

"Do not mistake a crowd of big wage-earners for the leisure class."

"Genius worship is the inevitable sign of an uncreative age."

"I would follow that 'significant form' was form behind which we catch a sense of ultimate reality."

"I will try to account for the degree of my aesthetic emotion. That, I conceive, is the function of the critic."

"It is not by his mixing and choosing, but by the shapes of his colors, and the combination of those shapes, that we recognize the colorist. Color becomes significant only when it becomes form."

"It is the mark of great art that its appeal is universal and eternal."

"The representative element in a work of art may or may not be harmful, but it is always irrelevant. For to appreciate a work of art, we must bring with us nothing from life, no knowledge of its affairs and ideas, no familiarity with its emotions."

"We all agree now - by "we" I mean intelligent people under sixty - that a work of art is like a rose. A rose is not beautiful because it is like something else. Neither is a work of art. Roses and works of art are beautiful in themselves."

"It would follow that 'significant form' was form behind which we catch a sense of ultimate reality."

"There must be someone quality without which a work of art cannot exist; possessing which, in the least degree, no work is altogether worthless."

"The forms of art are inexhaustible; but all lead by the same road of aesthetic emotion to the same world of aesthetic ecstasy."

"We have no other means of recognizing a work of art than our feeling for it."