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.)

This post was originally published seven years ago today. You can view the original with comments here.


  1. Good morning, Julia!
    Wow! I had never really listened to that song, despite having heard it many times. Thank you again for yet another glimpse of a different perspective.
    I found myself spontaneously humming yesterday, after an exceptionally delicious bowl of soup. It reminds me that at home I have a bumper sticker from Penzy’s that says:
    “Love People. Cook them Yummy Food”

    • Susan, thank you for this comment! Although I’m late getting around to replying, it turns out to be timely; as soon as I read this, I realized that today is the PERFECT day to make that pot of soup I’ve been planning…and that I had some Penzy’s seasoning (which a thoughtful reader sent me after a discussion about it here in the comments, long ago, when I said I’d never heard of Penzy’s). I never found out for sure who sent it, but I still have some left. Thanks for being here and generating some much-needed action on my part! The soup is simmering as I write this, thanks to you, and this is one of the coldest days we’ve had all winter, so it will be extra-special! Wish you could be here to share it with us.

      • Thank you, Julia, by sharing the experience with me in writing, I kind of feel as if I am there, too! Who knows, I could have sent the spice (maybe not, but I’ve sent Penzy’s spices somewhere, and I know I’ve sent tea), so your pot of soup could be a reunion of sorts, between several of us at once. 😁

        • I still have some of it in the freezer, so we can schedule a virtual get-together anytime. 😀

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