The Masterpiece as Witness to History

It occurred to me in Italy as I stood before Michealangelo’s David, that we don’t go to see great works of art. We can find pictures of masterpieces in books and on postcards that are better lit, show more detail. Most of us have “seen” great works of art before.

Then why do we go to see them in real life?

I believe we go to stand great works of art not to merely make them a part of our brief lives, or to say that we saw them to our friends, but to make ourselves part of their history. So millenia from now, long after we are gone, in the ongoing life of the masterpiece, somehow we become part of its history. That like the great leaders and the untold millions before us, we too stood before the masterpiece and gazed upon it.

That we too became, in our own way, a part of history that although may never be recorded, can never be denied. Like Michaelangelo, I stood before David. I was there.

The masterpiece becomes our witness to these micro-histories in the making, repeating over and over for every person. May they have long memories.

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2 responses to “The Masterpiece as Witness to History

  1. I have become more interested in seeing art “up close and personal.” This is because 15 years ago I saw an exhibition of Van Gogh’s work in the Netherlands. I had seen reproductions of his works many times, but I was (literaly) blown away by actualy viewing hte work. The reproductions really did not do justice to the work (I remember one painting that was like looking out a window. It had the same feel.).

    I now wonder about all the other masterpieces. If I have been missing something by not actualy viewing it in person.

    So for me it is to feel part of history as it is to “experience” the artwork.

  2. Fortunately I have seen” much the world has to offer. But by far there are two sites in Germany that were the most impacting. By that I mean I was physcially and emotionally awestruck by there presence. (Actually there was a third but that is a story in itself). The First and foremost is St. Maximillians Church in Muchen, Germany. I actually wrote a paper for my English class about it since it was so exquisite. The architecture and sculptures inside were so realisitic and breathtaking that I actually went back again the next day. Simply stunning. The second struck me because I am a fan of Mythology. In Karlsrue, Germany, near the cities center is a museum. As you approach, there are larger than life statues of all the gods and heroes of mythology lining the walkway to it. They are quite detailed and it was incredible seeing Pericles, Hercules, and all the other les-‘s lining a 80-100 meter path. Having been in the military for 18 years I have been in some of the most dynamic and cultural places on the planet. I haven’t wrote in a very long time but might have to convince the owner of this site to post some of my ramblings. wink.wink.nod.nod.say no more…

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