The Picture of Dorian Gray
Art and Culture Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"It is your best work, Basil, the best thing you have ever done," said Lord Henry languidly. "You must certainly send it next year to the Grosvenor. The Academy is too large and too vulgar. Whenever I have gone there, there have been either so many people that I have not been able to see the pictures, which was dreadful, or so many pictures that I have not been able to see the people, which was worse. The Grosvenor is really the only place." (1.5)
Art, to Lord Henry, is simply an excuse for publicity; his flippant comment actually reveals a lot about his opinion of the artistic enterprise – he'd rather look at people looking at pictures than at pictures themselves.
"You know we poor artists have to show ourselves in society from time to time, just to remind the public that we are not savages. With an evening coat and a white tie, as you told me once, anybody, even a stock-broker, can gain a reputation for being civilized." (1.17)
Here, Basil self-deprecatingly admits that even artists have to give in to the demands of society at times – they (who usually inhabit their own creative worlds) have to pretend to be "civilized" on occasion.
"An artist should create beautiful things, but should put nothing of his own life into them. We live in an age when men treat art as if it were meant to be a form of autobiography. We have lost the abstract sense of beauty." (1.21)
Basil highlights exactly what's wrong with the contemporary art scene as he sees it. He thinks that art should be about beauty, not the artist's ego.