Man's Magnum Opus. What is the greatest work of art in any medium?

Reply Tue 16 Feb, 2010 02:49 am
@Robert Gentel,
It is a WONDERFUL piece of art.

I adore Donne, but i think it is his best.

Why does it "remind" you?

It is a direct quote, I thought?
Robert Gentel
Reply Tue 16 Feb, 2010 02:58 am
Reminds me to post it.
Reply Tue 16 Feb, 2010 03:18 am
@Robert Gentel,
Here's a bit:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

And the whole:


PERCHANCE he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill, as that he knows not it tolls for him; and perchance I may think myself so much better than I am, as that they who are about me, and see my state, may have caused it to toll for me, and I know not that. The church is Catholic, universal, so are all her actions; all that she does belongs to all. When she baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that body which is my head too, and ingrafted into that body whereof I am a member. And when she buries a man, that action concerns me: all mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God's hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another. As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come, so this bell calls us all; but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness. There was a contention as far as a suit (in which both piety and dignity, religion and estimation, were mingled), which of the religious orders should ring to prayers first in the morning; and it was determined, that they should ring first that rose earliest. If we understand aright the dignity of this bell that tolls for our evening prayer, we would be glad to make it ours by rising early, in that application, that it might be ours as well as his, whose indeed it is. The bell doth toll for him that thinks it doth; and though it intermit again, yet from that minute that that occasion wrought upon him, he is united to God. Who casts not up his eye to the sun when it rises? but who takes off his eye from a comet when that breaks out? Who bends not his ear to any bell which upon any occasion rings? but who can remove it from that bell which is passing a piece of himself out of this world?

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee. Neither can we call this a begging of misery, or a borrowing of misery, as though we were not miserable enough of ourselves, but must fetch in more from the next house, in taking upon us the misery of our neighbours. Truly it were an excusable covetousness if we did, for affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it. No man hath affliction enough that is not matured and ripened by and made fit for God by that affliction. If a man carry treasure in bullion, or in a wedge of gold, and have none coined into current money, his treasure will not defray him as he travels. Tribulation is treasure in the nature of it, but it is not current money in the use of it, except we get nearer and nearer our home, heaven, by it. Another man may be sick too, and sick to death, and this affliction may lie in his bowels, as gold in a mine, and be of no use to him; but this bell, that tells me of his affliction, digs out and applies that gold to me: if by this consideration of another's danger I take mine own into contemplation, and so secure myself, by making my recourse to my God, who is our only security.
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Reply Tue 16 Feb, 2010 03:29 am
ossobuco wrote:

However, brute that I am, I didn't like everything in the entire place.

osso, Why would you or anybody else be expected to like everything in the entire place. There's a fairly good chance I've seen everything in the entire place. Don't like it all by a long shot. I don't consider myself even remotely brutey. Give yourself a break.
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Reply Tue 16 Feb, 2010 03:37 am
dlowan wrote:

Ya know, when I was searching for stuff I like, I found a photo just of David's hand.


There are closeups of the face. From different angles, the expression differs


Reply Tue 16 Feb, 2010 03:41 am
What is the greatest work of art in any medium?
A new born baby
Reply Tue 16 Feb, 2010 03:57 am
You'll need to specify one, 'cause I've seen some shockers.
(Actually doesn't count since it's a natural phenomenon, but maybe worth a new thread.)
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Reply Tue 16 Feb, 2010 04:42 am
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture accompanied with live cannon fire at its climactic finish!
Reply Tue 16 Feb, 2010 06:50 am
Not one of the greatest poems, but one of my favorites. It touches my heart. And I'm a major fan of the poet.

Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty
Wi bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murdering pattle.

I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth born companion
An' fellow mortal!

I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen icker in a thrave
'S a sma' request;
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
An' never miss't.

Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's win's ensuin,
Baith snell an' keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste,
An' weary winter comin fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro' thy cell.

That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou's turned out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter's sleety dribble,
An' cranreuch cauld.

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Still thou are blest, compared wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e'e,
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!
Reply Tue 16 Feb, 2010 07:15 am
Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the puddin-race!...
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Reply Tue 16 Feb, 2010 07:45 am
Reply Tue 16 Feb, 2010 08:01 am
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Reply Tue 16 Feb, 2010 08:22 am
@Robert Gentel,
Probably Romeo and Juliette.

Reply Tue 16 Feb, 2010 08:28 am
very pretty things here...turning into a nice place to browse.
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Reply Tue 16 Feb, 2010 10:13 am
The film was made in 1984 with young Malkovich and Sinise. It is unbelievably good and very difficult to find. I don't think it was ever released in DVD format but there are some VHS copies floating around. Last I checked you could piece the entire film together on YouTube. Here are some reviews.
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Robert Gentel
Reply Tue 16 Feb, 2010 10:24 am
I read about that earlier this year:


Everyone has seen photos of Michelangelo's David, but unfortunately the sculpture is invariably shown from the side view, rather than from the front.

The image on the the right is an actual frontal view of David, as he coolly yet menacingly awaits Goliath, his sling at the ready over his shoulder and his face full of disdain. With this lighting, he actually appears to be sneering at the giant. The message of the sculpture is clearly, "You [Goliath, and by extension, Caesar Borgia and any other potential enemy of the Florentine Republic] are dead meat!"

No living person has ever seen or photographed this primary view of the world's most famous sculpture. Since 1873, the original of David has been in the Galleria dell'Academia in Florence, but it was originally turned so as to face into a nearby column, and has been left in that position ever since. In order for anyone to obtain the frontal view of the actual statue, they would have to stand well behind the column, and then use X-ray vision to see through it.

Now, however, thanks to Stanford University's Digital Michelangelo Project, it is possible to obtain virtual views of David from any direction, even through the impeding column! The image shown at right was created with the Project's ScanView software, and is shown here with the kind permission of the project director, Prof. Marc Levoy.

Robert Gentel
Reply Tue 16 Feb, 2010 10:26 am
One of my all-time favorites! It's music that just can't be listened to quietly though, so I indulge rarely, because when I do I do "drive the neighbors crazy" volumes.

Hmm.... oh well, here goes and poor neighbors!
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Reply Tue 16 Feb, 2010 11:20 am
This thread prompts me to ask: do we become desensitized to great works of art that have become iconic? Does the experience of experiencing David in person, as in "Cool, I'm standing in front of this thing I've seen a billion times in books and on TV," get in the way of unfettered appreciation? Isn't seeing the Mona Lisa now like seeing a celebrity in the airport? Or should the greatest work of art transcend this complication?

I ask because I am compelled to approach the subject of this thread in two ways: Art I Love vs. Art Loved Historically. Like art that has maintained a consistent and immediate impact on me over time vs. art that is clearly sublime but to which I have no personal relationship. And perhaps this is a matter of context. Gogol and Chopin came to me, by candlelight and huddled under a blanket or something like that. But I had to come to David and Mona Lisa, in a museum, surrounded by kids with wheels on the heels of their shoes.

See I want to nominate Gogol's "The Overcoat," and Chopin's "Raindrop Prelude." Part of my love for them is also that they seem borne of a fever of genius, whereas the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel seems wrought, toiled over. In fact this is a distinction I might draw between most Art I Love vs. Art Loved Historically. Is it the defining distinction? I don't know.

In conclusion, boogers.
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Reply Tue 16 Feb, 2010 11:29 am
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:


I can see this man's pee pee.
Robert Gentel
Reply Tue 16 Feb, 2010 11:54 am
Good eye.

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