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A collection of sayings and quotes by Antonin Artaud on poetry, writing, essays, theater, pain, magic, hell, self, life, cinema, plays, books and madness.

41 Famous Quotes By Antonin Artaud, The European Avant-Garde

Quick Facts

Famous As: Dramatist, Poet, Essayist, Actor, & Theatre Director

Born On: September 4, 1896

Died On: March 4, 1948

Born In: Marseille, France

Died At Age: 51

Antonin Artaud was a famous French theatre director and also a remarkable poet, actor, dramatist and essayist. He moved to Paris to pursue his passion for writing and got attracted to experimental theater. He trained under famous theater directors like Charles Dullin and Georges Pitoeff. During this period, he wrote essays, poetry and even played small roles in theater. Artaud got passionate about cinema and wrote his first surrealist film ‘The Seashell and the Clergyman’ and even debuted in films starting with a small role in ‘Passion of Joan of Arc’. Artaud once witnessed a Balinese dance performance, which inspired him to develop a new form called “The Theatre of Cruelty”. Its two manifestos were written in his book ‘The Theatre and Its Double’ which expressed his admiration for the western theater. He then transformed these ideas in the form of a play which failed commercially. The failure made him travel to Mexico where he stayed with the Tarahumara people and wrote down his experiences in ‘Voyage to the Land of the Tarahumara’. The below collection of Antonin Artaud’s most famous quotes have been excerpted from his writings, poems, essays and thoughts. Presenting sayings and quotes by Antonin Artaud which will give you a clear perspective about theater.

Never tire yourself more than necessary, even if you have to found a culture on the fatigue of your bones.

Antonin Artaud

There is in every madman a misunderstood genius whose idea shining in his head frightened people and for whom delirium was the only solution to the strangulation that life had prepared for him.

Antonin Artaud

I would like to write a Book which would drive men mad, which would be like an open door leading them where they would never have consented to go, in short, a door that opens onto reality.

Antonin Artaud

I have need of angels. Enough hell has swallowed me for too many years. But finally understand this--I have burned up one hundred thousand human lives already, from the strength of my pain.

Antonin Artaud

If our life lacks a constant magic it is because we choose to observe our acts and lose ourselves in consideration of their imagined form and meaning, instead of being impelled by their force.

Antonin Artaud

I abandon myself to the fever of dreams, in search for new laws.

Antonin Artaud

I myself am an absolute abyss.

Antonin Artaud

No one has ever written, painted, sculpted, modeled, built, or invented except literally to get out of hell.

Antonin Artaud

All writing is garbage. People who come out of nowhere to try and put into words any part of what goes on in their minds are pigs.

Antonin Artaud

For nothing bestializes a being like the taste for eternal happiness, the search for eternal happiness at any price, and mademoiselle Lucifer is that slut who never wanted to abandon eternal happiness.

Antonin Artaud

I cannot conceive any work of art as having a separate existence from life itself

Antonin Artaud

Without sarcasm I sink into chaos.

Antonin Artaud

I call for actors burning at the stakes, laughing at the flames.

Antonin Artaud

We have the right to lie, but not about the heart of the matter.

Antonin Artaud

I prefer the people who eat off the bare earth the delirium from which they were born.

Antonin Artaud

Poetry is a dissociating and anarchic force which through analogy, associations and imagery, thrives on the destruction of known relationships.

Antonin Artaud

All writing is filth

Antonin Artaud

So society has strangled in its asylums all those it wanted to get rid of or protect itself from, because they refused to become its accomplices in certain great nastiness.

Antonin Artaud

In our present state of degeneration it is through the skin that metaphysics must be made to re-enter our minds.

Antonin Artaud

[defines a madman as] a man who preferred to become mad,in the socially accepted sense of the word, rather than forfeit a certain superior idea of human honor.

Antonin Artaud

When you will have made him a body without organs, then you will have delivered him from all his automatic reactions and restored him to his true freedom.

Antonin Artaud

Not only are mortals rotten, the very atmosphere in which we live is materially and physically rotten, swarming with maggots, with obscene appearances, poisonous minds, and foul organisms.

Antonin Artaud

Those who live, live off the dead.

Antonin Artaud

There are those who go to the theatre as they would go to a brothel

Antonin Artaud

It is the very reason-for-being of language and grammar that I unhinge.

Antonin Artaud

A host of scorpions crawl out from under the wetnurse's dress and start swarming in her vagina which swells and splits, becomes transparent and shimmers like the sun

Antonin Artaud

All true feeling is in reality untranslatable. To express it is to betray it. But to translate it is to dissimulate it.

Antonin Artaud

So long as we have failed to eliminate any of the causes of human despair, we do not have the right to try to eliminate those means by which man tries to cleanse himself of despair.

Antonin Artaud

Everything is going badly because at this moment the morbid conscience has an essential interest in not recovering from its own sickness.

Antonin Artaud

The cinema implies a total inversion of values, a complete upheaval of optics, of perspective and logic. It is more exciting than phosphorus, more captivating than love.

Antonin Artaud

And truly must it be reduced to this stinking gas, my body? To say that I have a body because I have a stinking gas that forms inside me? (To have done with the judgement of God, 1947)

Antonin Artaud

All writing is pigshit.

Antonin Artaud

If there is still one hellish, truly accursed thing in our time, it is our artistic dallying with forms, instead of being like victims burnt at the stake, signaling through the flames.

Antonin Artaud

VERBLUEFFENDE ENTDECKUNG. HIMMEL PHYSIKALISCH VERNICHTET. ERDE NUR EINE MINUTE VON SIRIUS ENTFERNT! KEIN FIRMAMENT MEHR.

Antonin Artaud

In the manifested world, metaphysically speaking, evil is the permanent law, and what is good is an effort and already one more cruelty added to the other.

Antonin Artaud

The extreme point of mysticism, I hold it now in the real and in my body, like a toilet broom.

Antonin Artaud

The mind believes what it sees and does what it believes; that is the secret of fascination. And in his book, St Augustine does not doubt the reality of this fascination for one moment.

Antonin Artaud

When we speak the word “life,” it must be understood we are not referring to life as we know it from its surface of fact, but to that fragile, fluctuating center which forms never reach.

Antonin Artaud

Written poetry is worth reading once, and then should be destroyed. Let the dead poets make way for others.

Antonin Artaud