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Famous is Not Synonymous With Great.

Updated on March 23, 2012

The Question Made Me Think

The question that was asked, as to the 10 most famous paintings in the world, made me really think about that. I came to the conclusion that no one has the correct answer--even the experts disagreed. It reminded me of something that I had concluded many years ago, and that was that the world's most famous were not the same as the world's greatest. Years ago, when I did an art tour of Europe, I was able to visit some of the truly great galleries and view some of the works of art from the greatest artists of the past. I was able to see the Mona Lisa up close, before she was hidden behind layers of glass for her protection. I stood before the crumbling Last Supper and was touched by its beauty. I was amazed to view Rembrandt's Night Watch up close and see how fluid his brush strokes appeared and how almost impressionistic they were. When I visited the Sistine Chapel, with the great ceiling paintings by Michelangelo, I was stunned by the love and devotion he must have had to paint such a masterpiece on his back. But his greatest works, I believe, were his sculptures. Not the famous David, or the perfect Pieta --but the later works that he never finished ( or did he mean them to be that way?) When I saw his sculptures of the slaves --as if they were pulling themselves from the stone they were carved from and then the last Pieta of Christ in his mother's arms--roughly carved but full of the passion that she must of felt--I stood there and wept. Of all the finished and famous works of art by this great master, Michelangelo, these were by far the most powerful to me. I was only 16 years old, and not very well versed in my studies of art yet, but I could not help but feel the great emotion that the artist had portrayed through these magnificent "unfinished sculptures."

The Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci
The Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci | Source

So What Is Great Art?

There have been many artists in our history that have been wonderful perfectionists. The German artists were known for their great attention to detail, and many of the Italian artists were masters of the perfect figure. But, some of the truly "greats" so to speak, were not the ones that used the perfect techniques or masters of realism. I feel, and this is just my opinion, that the "greats" were the ones that somehow communicated their passion through their art---so that somehow we observers were touched by their message --either through their paintings or sculptures. Is it possible to communicate these powerful feeling through art? I believe it is. Van Gogh certainly succeeded to touch many with his powerful Starry Night, and Renoir was not the greatest perfectionist as an artist, but you cannot help but feel his passion for the people he painted when you look at his creations. This is true of Goya also, and Cezanne and Monet and Dali and the Diego Riveras of the world. They say that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder"--- lets add---"and in the heart of the artist."


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