Added to the inner freedom

Inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, May 2007

Inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, May 2007

“No great work has ever been based on hatred and contempt. On the contrary, there is not a single true work of art that has not in the end added to the inner freedom of each person who has known and loved it.”Albert Camus

Van Gogh’s swirling clouds, Rembrandt’s pensive faces, Pissarro’s evocative street scenes, the exultant triumph of the Winged Victory of Samothrace; these and countless other works of art I have loved since childhood.  They have added immensely to my life, although not in any way that could ever be defined or quantified.  I think Camus has come close when he refers to the inner freedom we feel when we enjoy a work of art, especially one that takes us to another time, place, or dimension.

If you do not live close enough to an art museum or local gallery to spend a few hours browsing, perhaps you can check out an oversize volume of reproduced artwork at your local library.  Or visit one of the countless online museums that make it easy to view art via your computer.  As with so many other non-urgent but vitally important pursuits, it may seem impossible amid the rush of modern life.  But if you can manage it, I think you will find that time spent getting to know great works of art will yield intangible dividends that enrich your life and free your mind from petty annoyances.

What are some of your favorite works?  Which artists do you most enjoy?  Feel free to post links to the works you recommend, so others may enjoy them.  Meanwhile, take a few minutes to ponder this musical tribute to a brilliant artist who eventually lost his life to the despair that paradoxically drove him to produce so many masterpieces not fully appreciated until long after his death.  (Be sure to see the dedication at the end of this video.)


  1. victoria k. copp

    You are an artist. Beautiful. God bless you.

    • Wow, thank you so much. It’s nice to start the day with such a kind compliment! I’m glad you visited us here.

  2. Julia, some of the blog readers may not be familiar with the artist of whom the link I provide elaborates. I “discovered” him on a visit to the Prado, in Madrid.

    • Eric, thanks for info! I am not very familiar with Velazquez, but enjoyed a few of his works at the link you provided. I have to say he’s quite amazing at capturing facial expressions. I especially liked “Supper at Emmaus” and “Aesop” in that regard; he really brings the people to life. I’ll have to be on the lookout for his works next time I’m at a museum.

  3. Sheila

    Good morning,Julia. This tribute by Don McLean is so well done.I was enjoying it, only to realize my husband was too…. over my shoulder! Because of my love for the South Carolina lowcountry, I so enjoy the pastels on silk of Elizabeth O’Neill Verner from Charleston. Your blog delights! Sheila

    • Sheila, I could not recall ever hearing of Verner, but thanks to your comment I was able to enjoy her work at this link: I especially liked “Annie” “In the fields” “Charleston, Church Street” “Cabins with wash on the line” and “Cato Waring.” Thanks so much for introducing me to this artist!

  4. hilzonsix

    How easily despair sneaks up on us. Thanks for the beauty and wisdom.

    • You’re welcome, thanks for visiting! I’m so glad you liked the post.

  5. Monet is a particular favorite for us. George especially loves impressionist works.
    Thanks for sharing the beauty.

    • Carla, I love Monet too, and probably the impressionists are my favorite group. I hope someday to go to Giverny; I’ve heard it’s wonderful. I love the Musée d’Orsay in Paris – – I might even like it better than the Louvre, which is almost overwhelming (in a wonderful way).

      • Let’s not forget our American artists!!! We also love sweet Norman Rockwell….SO thoroughly American!

        • Carla, to see a great collection of American art online, see the comments here regarding Elizabeth O’Neill Verner; there’s a link to her work, and many others, at an American Gallery I have linked here.

  6. Sheila

    Julia,the American Gallery is a wonderful link. Thank you so much. A friend from Atlanta introduced me to Elizabeth O’Neill Verner’s art many years ago. Great gals come out of Atlanta! Hope y’all are having a good evening. Sheila

    • Thanks Sheila, we are having a good evening! Jeff felt like eating dinner tonight which lately is not something we take for granted. 🙂 Today was a warm day here and feels almost like spring. I’ve lived all over and really liked pretty much everywhere we lived, but I’ll always consider Atlanta my home. Glad you enjoyed the Gallery, I plan to visit that site often.

      • Sheila

        My friend was born and bred (truly) in Buckhead.We met in Greensboro NC as neighbors in 1978 and clicked. We were born on the same day and feel as though our friendship was made in heaven! Dinner is our fuel. Thank you so many pleasant comments here. Sheila

        • I grew up in East Point, but we used to go shopping in Buckhead (Lenox Square, which was an outdoor center at the time, and later Phipps Plaza). I worked at Rich’s, Greenbriar Mall, which was one of the first malls in Atlanta. Ask your friend if she remembers riding the Pink Pig at Christmas?

  7. Even though I am now working for a Dr office I will never quit being a teacher. One of my favorite things to teach was art and Aarons first grade teacher introduced me to a great program for little people that introduces them to the classics. (That’s where Aaron developed his own love for your friend Vincent) In that light a couple years ago discovered a book by Eric Carle called, I See A Song. It’s a great book and someone more clever than I has set it to music. It’s a simple way to introduce children to art and music. You can view it at, (I hope 🙂 )

    • As a former Youth Services Librarian I’m embarrassed to admit that I don’t remember hearing of that particular book by Carle (though many of his books are famously popular) — thanks for the link, I’ll check it out and send it to my sister! I agree, once a teacher, always a teacher (if you truly were one to begin with).

  8. Wow, Julia! Watching the video of Vincent’s work along with that song by Don McLean was pretty powerful! I was crying through it, because I know the story of his tragedy. Many, many years ago I was in that place emotionally just as Vincent. But I’m glad I chose to live! God had so much in store for me! 🙂 Thank you for the post. The nearest art museums to me are hours of driving away. But someday I want to see a few in San Francisco! 🙂

    • So many of us have been in that place of despair – I think that’s one reason why Vincent is so popular among people of my generation. San Francisco is an artist’s dream even if it had no museums, because of the beauty of the terrain and all the interesting sights there. But the museums are great too. The Legion of Honor is a wonderful museum and sits up on a gorgeous hill with fabulous views of the Golden Gate Bridge from a different angle than typically shown in pictures – and the de Young also is in a beautiful setting, right in Golden Gate Park. They have an O’Keefe exhibit there now, through May 11 – any chance you could get there before then?

      • Oh my goodness! I didn’t know any of Georgia O’Keeffe’s art was that close by! Thanks so much for letting me know about these particular museums. I would so love to see her art up close. But my husband is going to San Francisco with a friend the last week of May to see two Giants games, so I’m not sure we could swing another trip in there. I would want to spend the night instead of having to drive home the same day. It takes a good 4 hours at least to drive there from where we are. But it may be up for discussion! 😉

        • That exhibit may be traveling to other museums; maybe it will go to Portland or Seattle and you could see it there? Although that would be even farther. I remember being surprised how far it was to Redding from San Francisco – everyone refers to the Bay Area as northern California, but it’s only about 2/3 of the way up the coast. Where you live is TRULY northern California! I wish we had had more time to explore that area.

          • I sure would love to see it, but I don’t think we will be able to. I wish I had known about it sooner, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.
            You’re right about the Bay Area not really being Northern California. I don’t know where people get that idea! We are in the north for sure.

            • Probably that misconception started from the rivalry between LA and SFO; the need to describe the enormous difference between the two cities. Plus the fact that the so-called “central coast” (some of which is technically in the southern half of the state) is quite different from the areas in LA and to the south. I think it’s easy to think of CA as being contained in its largest cities (San Diego, LA, San Jose and SFO) but what we discovered when we moved there is that there is VAST diversity of climate, geography, population and politics. People tend to forget inland California and the northern third of the state. I guess if one divided the state in thirds by population, the Bay area would fall in the northern sector, which is probably why it’s considered part of the NorCal Republic (as it is affectionately known by some people in the Bay Area).

  9. Reblogged this on Patsy's Creative Corner and commented:
    Julia’s thoughts are encouraging! And watch the video of Vincent Van Gogh’s art along with the song “Vincent” by Don McLean. It is beautiful! The words even match his works of art many times which is amazing! 🙂

    • Thanks so much for the re-blog! I appreciate it. 🙂


  1. From a single source | Defeat Despair
  2. Added to the inner freedom | Defeat Despair

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