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.

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