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“All art is quite useless” by Oscar Wilde

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All Art Is Quite Useless

The artist is the creator of beautiful things.
To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim.
The critic is he who can translate into another manner
or a new material his impression of beautiful things.

The highest, as the lowest, form of criticism is a mode
of autobiography.
Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt
without being charming. This is a fault.
Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things
are the cultivated. For these there is hope.
They are the elect to whom beautiful things means only
Beauty.

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book.

Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.
The nineteenth century dislike of Realism is the rage of
Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.
The nineteenth century dislike of Romanticism is the
rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass.
The moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of
the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect
use of an imperfect medium. No artist desires to prove
anything. Even things that are true can be proved.

No artist has ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy

in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style.
No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express
everything.
Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art.

Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art.
From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is
the art of the musician. From the point of view of feeling,
the actor’s craft is the type.
All art is at once surface and symbol.
Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.

Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.
It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.
Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work
is new, complex, and vital.

When critics disagree the artist is in accord with
himself.
We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he
does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless
thing is that one admires it intensely.

All art is quite useless.

– Oscar Wilde
Preface to “The Picture of Dorian Gray”