#7: ‘Everything you can imagine is real.’ ―Pablo Picasso
There is an old saying that if God didn’t exist we would have to invent Him. If Picasso hadn’t actually created this gem among inspirational quotes, we would still somehow feel compelled to attribute a phrase like it to him, for it just seems to fit so perfectly.
Do we even need to say why?
Picasso was the artist that changed and shaped the course of Western art in the 20th century (take that, Andy Warhol!) He pioneered so many different artistic movements, from Cubism to various forms of emphasis and exaggeration which strayed from Realism and instead focused on what might well be called the imagination’s impression of people, places, things and ideas.
Nowhere is this truer than in his masterpieces of masterpieces, ‘Guernica.’ Painted during the Spanish Civil War, wherein the titular city was bombed to the point of oblivion in a battle between fascism, communism and freedom fighters in what would prove to be a dry run for World War Two, Picasso’s masterpiece shows us the devastation of modern warfare.
More than that, however, it has come to stand as one of the strongest anti-war sentiments of modern times—an idea well worth imagining. Painting is, of course a visual medium, but a great painter like Picasso can appear to paint in ideals and, as such, convey the artistic equivalent of inspirational quotes, and that’s precisely what ‘Guernica’ is.
The painting is an immortalized witness to the atrocities of man, and yet its painter stands as a reminder of mankind’s potential wonder and goodness.
While its figures are depicted as utterly shattered, the very fact that Picasso was brave enough to paint this picture in the midst of violence and with Franco’s fascist army and later the Nazis themselves bearing down on his Spain is a testament to the triumph of humanity over its own destructive cruelty.
Whether you’re suffering through your own Blue Period or just feel somewhat fragmented, this is one of those inspirational quotes that really does paint a picture of a world to be optimistic about, something that compels us to action.
And that’s what so many of the best inspirational quotes do, and part of why this list stands apart. The people listed here lived the quotes for which they are rightly famous.
Whether it was working towards liberty, experimenting with electricity, breaking new artistic ground or succeeding as a woman in a world where all the odds were (and so often still are) stacked in favor of men, the people on this list didn’t simply make pretty offhand quips or Tumblr-worthy quotes—they DID something.
To reiterate our personal favorite among these inspirational quotes, from George Eliot, ‘It is never too late to be what you might have been,’ so go forth and begin to become what you wish to be, and don’t let anyone stop you—least of all yourself.