Weekly Photo Challenge: Masterpiece

This week’s post came at a perfect moment.  I was spending the weekend in Chicago and had the chance to visit several magnificent museums.  As I walked through the galleries, I was thinking–what defines a masterpiece? Longevity? The ability to make a very human connection to the viewer (reader, listener) over decades or centuries? The highest quality of skill and craftsmanship?

Twin Statues copy

Or, the ability to create an artistic mirror in which we view ourselves and the world?

Model Hdr

MCA, Chicago

For me, it’s all these qualities.  The creative work must also be uplifting, taking the viewer (reader, listener) to a higher plane–of awareness, of sympathy, of joy.  It also requires the intense labor of the artist.   And most importantly, it can’t be undertaken lightly.

During the six years I worked on my novel, The Incident at Montebello, it gave me great comfort to remember Gustave Flaubert who complained that he could only create a few good sentences every day about Madame Bovary because every word was a great struggle.   That struggle unites all of us in the creative arts.  It takes us on a great journey, which, I sometimes feel, is more important than the end result.  How can that be?  Van Gogh says it best:

When I have a terrible need of – shall I say the word – religion. Then I go out and paint the stars.–Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh Self Portrait.


Paintings have a life of their own that derives from the painter’s soul–Vincent Van Gogh

So, for many of us, the unintended consequence of all those hours of intense focus is a spiritual connection, which brings us great peace and contentment.  Through our own work,  we are linked to other creative artists through the ages, as well as the infinite, the cosmos, the eternal.  Is our work a masterpiece?  It’s not up to us to judge.  That’s the job of future generations.

Little Goddess

Little Goddess

Do you agree that practicing the creative arts is a type of meditation or prayer?   Or, does it have nothing to do with spirituality?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

To see other interpretations of this week’s theme, click on the links below:


14 replies »

  1. Wonderful post. I truly believe that practicing the creative arts is a prayer, for me a prayer of gratitude that I see the beauty that surrounds me; trying to replicate what I see to offer it back to the Universe as a prayer of love. I had never stopped to think of being linked to other creative artists…that gives me goose bumps.


  2. Chicago have … so many masterpiece … when it’s about public art too.
    One of the reasons why Chicago is my favorite city. Fantastic choice for the challenge and your photo are fantastic too. The top one, my pick.


    • Thanks, Viveka for the compliments! I’m glad you like the top one. It’s true that Chicago has great public art. I can’t believe the Chagall and Picasso in the public squares.


  3. A good entry for the challenge! At the moment I’m listening to Madame Bovary (an audiobook) and several times I’ve been impressed and touched by Flaubert’s writing. Really interesting what you told about it.


    • Thanks so much! It is a coincidence that you’re listening to Madame B. What a classic. I love it. One of my favorites. Are you going to read anything else by Flaubert next?


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