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115 Years: What They Said

Georgia O’Keeffe.


Over the years, ARTnews’s contributors have gathered pointed words from their subjects—artists primarily, but also curators, gallerists, and even a former U.S. president.

Georgia O’Keeffe, artist

“A painting is like a person. Either you like it or you don’t.”
—From “Georgia O’Keeffe at 90,” by Mary Lynn Kotz, December 1977


Tania Bruguera, artist

“In every big artwork, the human part is what lasts.”
—From “Putting on the Lamb,” by Sarah Bayliss, October 2004


Faith Ringgold, artist

“Women have got to work together better, to support the concept of teamship. Too often whoever gets there first grabs the cookies and runs.”
—From “A Decade of Progress, But Could a Female Chardin Make a Living?,” by Avis Berman, October 1980


Andy Warhol, artist

“There are only a handful of people who understand what I’m doing, so I’m certainly not changing the world.”
—From “What Is Pop Art?,”
by G. R. Swenson,
November 1963


Lee Krasner, artist

“[Jackson Pollock’s] attitude was macho; he didn’t want me to go out and work and support him.”
—From “Scenes from a Marriage: Krasner and Pollock,” by Grace Glueck, December 1981


Robert Mapplethorpe, artist

“I don’t like that particular word, ‘shocking.’ I’m looking for the unexpected.”
—From “Prince of Darkness, Angel of Light,” by Susan Weiley, December 1988


Louise Nevelson, artist

“Now, when I get depressed, I say to myself, ‘Look, you son of a bitch, you got as much money as you need. You like your work, so why are you depressed?’ ” —From “Louise Neveslon at 75,” by Barbaralee Diamonstein, October 1974


Guerrilla Girls, artists

“Artists are great, but the art world sucks.”
—From “Guerrilla Girls Responds,” June 2015


Paula Cooper, gallerist

“I don’t like art dealers very much, and I don’t enjoy the selling of art—practically everything you talk about always comes back to money. That’s not what’s important about art.”
—From “Paula Cooper: Quite Contrary,” by John Howell, March 1989


Kasper Koenig, curator

“The argument that something is blasphemous or pornographic or whatever it is that’s considered offensive is never a reason for excluding the presentation of art.”
—From “What Is Pornography?,” October 1989


Kerry James Marshall, artist

“It is my conviction that the most instrumental, insurgent painting for this moment must be of figures, and those figures must be black, unapologetically so.”
—From “The Painter of Modern Life,” by Sarah Douglas, Spring 2016


Agnes Gund, collector and philanthropist

“I am a little resentful of the fact that people are spending so much on works of art and not on things that are really happening in the world and are affecting people so terribly.”
—From “Life Commitments,” by Hilarie M. Sheets, September 2006


Ai Weiwei, artist

“If I am in this kind of society and if I don’t speak up, I really feel meaningless.”
—From “Crossing the Line in China,” by Barbara Pollack, April 2011


Shirin Neshat, artist

“I’m not satisfied with explaining my culture. I don’t want to be an ethnographic artist.”
—From “Lifting the Veil,” by Leslie Camhi, February 2000


Jeff Koons, artist

“I’ve always tried to be sincere in my work, to make art that can enrich people’s lives. I’ve always been a very moral artist.”
—From “A Kinder, Gentler Koons,”
by Laurie Attias, March 1998


David Hockney, artist

“I’ll tell you the honest truth. I just like to make pictures.”
—From “David Hockney: Reaching the Top with Apparently No Great Effort,” by Roy Bongartz, March 1978


Mike Kelley, artist

“I’ve never been a huge fan of my own work. Once it’s done, it’s dead weight to me and I don’t want it in my house. I don’t care what collectors do with it either—they can chop it up into pieces for all I care.”
—From “Mike Kelley’s Disturbing Memories,” by Kristine McKenna, November 1993


Jimmy Carter, former U.S. president

“I think if I had to pick a favorite artist it would be El Greco. My daughter and I had a long discussion on Spanish artists and I had to explain to her about El Greco.”
—From “President Carter on Art,”
by Milton Esterow, April 1980


John Baldessari, artist

“I get angry at artists for being so dumb, and that makes me work.”
—From “No More Boring Art,” by Hunter Drohojowska, January 1986


Joan Mitchell, artist

“There’ll always be painters around. It’ll take more than Pop or Op to discourage them—they’ve never been encouraged anyway.”
—From “An Expressionist in Paris,” by John Ashbery, April 1965


Wolfgang Tillmans, artist

“I am a little obsessed with the question, when does something become something? If something is meaningful now, then it immediately begs the question, when did it come into being?”
—From “Shooting from the Hip,” by Hilarie M. Sheets, October 2007


Catherine Opie, artist

“I have only one thing I like to do in my life, besides being on vacation, and that’s taking pictures.”
—From “L.A. Story,”
by Suzanne Muchnic,
Summer 1998


A version of this story originally appeared in the Winter 2018 issue of ARTnews on page 64.

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