What makes a Masterpiece?

How to spot a masterpiece

The term “masterpiece” originated in the Middle Ages, when apprentice artisans had to prove their skills by submitting exemplary work for approval by the guild that governed their trade. If the piece demonstrated mastery of the craft, the apprentice would be promoted to master and authorized to train others.

330 B.C.E., the bronze ‘Boxer at Rest’.
The statue is a masterpiece of Hellenistic athletic professionalism, with a top-heavy over-muscled torso and scarred and bruised face, cauliflower ears, broken nose, and a mouth suggesting broken teeth.

There is no shortage of ultra realist painters and sculptors these days who miss nothing in their compositions apart from the most important aspects of all, life!

High art ought to stir emotions, expand perspectives, give the viewer something to consider outside their normal lives or comfort zone. A masterpiece should do this beautifully.

The wonder of using skeletons is humanity distilled to depict another living soul. Indeed as we all have a skeleton, the pieces relate with little imagination directly to the spectator, almost physically.
They place the emphasis squarely on feeling, and with the overall simplicity even look effortless. There is genius in simplicity.

There are common qualities that every masterpiece shares.

Some sort of feeling must be evoked
superlative craftsmanship
extraordinary design
rich materials
purity of form
artistic genius


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