Nicolas Poussin, Inspiration of the Poet

What Artists, Musicians and Poets say about Inspiration

What is inspiration and how do artists find it? Here is a collection of quotes by artists, musicians and poets. 

Musicians and Inspiration

“I am convinced that there are universal currents of Divine Thought vibrating the ether everywhere and that any who can feel these vibrations is inspired (…). In the course of my work I had many wonderful and exciting experiences in the invisible realm, which I can describe at least to you. I believe first of all that this universally vibrating energy binds the human soul with the almighty central source of energy, from which the principle of life goes forth to which we all owe our existence. This energy represents for us the contact with the highest power of the universe, of which each of us is a part. If this were not the case we should not be able to get in touch with it. Anybody succeeding in doing this will be inspired.”  

Richard Wagner (1880, in conversation with E. Humperdinck)

“If that condition of mind and soul which we call inspiration lasted long without intermission, no artist could survive it. The strings would break and the instrument be shattered into fragments.”

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

“Inspiration is an awakening, a quickening of all man’s faculties, and it is manifested in all high artistic achievements.”

Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924)

“Just as appetite comes by eating, so work brings inspiration, if inspiration is not discernable at the beginning.”

Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)

“People who are not artists often feel that artists are inspired. But if you work at your art you don’t have time to be inspired.”

John Cage (1912-1992)

“I just sit down at the piano and rattle it off.”

Charlie Haden (1937-2014)

“We don’t have education we have inspiration; if I was educated I would be a damn fool.”

Bob Marley (1945-81)

Visual Artists and Inspiration

“Inspiration demands the active cooperation of the intellect joined with enthusiasm, and it is under such conditions that marvellous conceptions, with all that is excellent and divine, come into being.”

Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574)

“Inspiration is getting to our studies at 9 am.”

Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863)

“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

“You could say that I have no inspiration that I only need to paint.”

Fancis Bacon (1909-1992)

“If you can’t find your inspiration by walking around the block one time, go around two blocks – but never three.”

Robert Motherwell (1915-1991)

“Inspiration is indispensable to my work, but it is hard to come by. It is there or it is not; it is a gift of the Gods.”

Elaine de Kooning (1918-1989)

“Don’t park.  Arrival is the death of inspiration.”

Ernst Haas (1921-1986)

“Amateurs look for inspiration; the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

Chuck Close (b. 1940)

Poets and Inspiration

“The glow of inspiration warms us and it is a holy rapture.”

Ovid (43 bc. – ?17)

“Many a witty inspiration is like the surprising reunion of befriended thoughts after a long separation.”

Friedrich von Schlegel (1772-1829)

“Inspiration – intoxication without alcohol.”

Alexander Otto Weber (1868-1935)

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

Jack London (1876-1916)

“People used to envy me my inspiration. I hate inspiration. It takes you over completely. I could never wait until it passed and I got rid of it.”

Henry Miller (1891-1980)

“Return to inspiration. Inspiration, pure instinct, the only motivating force of the poet. I find logical poetry unbearable.”

Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936)

“I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.”

Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)

see also: What is art? 30 famous definitions
Nicolas Poussin, Inspiration of the Poet

Nicolas Poussin, The Inspiration of the Poet, 1629-1630 – ©Public Domain

Featured image: Nicolas Poussin, The inspiration of the poet, 1629/30, Louvre, Paris – ©Public Domain





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