Where lies the greatness of art?
How does it survive time?
Is it the technique used by the artist, or is it the color?
Perhaps it’s the theme?
Art is great if it’s alive. Have you thought about – What is Art? or What is NFT?
If the artist has used his heart, head, and hand while making it. If it is made powerful by the artist, who saw the world in a unique way and allowed all of us to share that vision.
Great artists can expand not only our vision but also our understanding, often of the simplest of concepts. And this takes courage. Because great art cannot be created if the artists are just looking for appreciation.
Or because someone asked him, or her, to create it. Great art pushes the artist to use his heart, his head, and his hand altogether.
Courage in the history of art
A good example of this is The Parade Auf Opernplatzis by Franz Krueger.
Almost two centuries ago, in 1824, the future Russian tsar Nicolas I, requested a commemoration of a special and historic day by commissioning a painting. He chose a renowned artist and made sure that the whole world will be able to see his own greatness. It was Franz Krueger who got the honor to capture the prominence of the future tsar on canvas.
At the time, he was a well-known painter who specialized in portraits and military paintings in Berlin. Thus, him being the chosen one made sense. But, he had something else in mind.
The painted a sky, shrouded in clouds, over a square full of people, indicating that something really important is on the go. There are buildings full of details, to remind us where the thing is happening, and there are soldiers, silent and sturdy in a perfect formation, with military officers on their mounts, clearly expressing that there are magnitude and rank in question.
And then there is the crowd. Beautifully infused in the image, with no visible distinction between ordinary people and aristocrats, just a continuum of people – exactly how Krueger wanted it. Because there is no emphasis on their social status, or stature, profession or political influence. The crowd is simply a perfect contrast to the military – disorderly vs. orderly, chaos vs. structure. And this contrast is what makes the painting alive.
So, given this description and what Nicolas I wanted, you must wonder – where is he in the painting? Isn’t he himself the one thing that the painting was going to be about?
And it is, no matter how impossible it is to believe it. It has been proven that the future tsar ordered the painting to capture a special moment for him. But, instead of showing his own greatness and focusing on his own ego, Krueger focused on the people and showed what that particular moment was for them. He wanted to show how special and how grand that moment really was, and thought, rightfully, that the people had much more substance than his future majesty’s figure.
The painting does not have a central image and it was rather scandalous for the time when it was created. But, it is important that the artist managed to convey his message – he subtly hinted that all people are the same, and there is no person that is more important than others. He manages to tell his audience that people should be considered as a whole and that it is the people that create the spirit of the city.
By now you are probably wondering – what is so courageous in painting what you see and where exactly lies the strength and determination of Krueger. Put simply, he did not deliver what he was asked for. And for that time, remember it was 1824, it was really courageous to paint the Berlin bourgeois with the same detail as the future Russian tsar. It is gutsy to undermine the duke himself, his influence, and the Russian military, a very serious force at the time, by the presence of the crowd of ordinary people. It was gutsy to show that without the people, there will be no city, no parade, and no story.
Artist and Courage – A great correlation
Isn’t the painting inspiring? Look at it yourself and think about the feelings it brings up in you. Don’t you feel like you are a part of the parade yourself? Aren’t you inspired to contemplate something special and great?
So, it is true. Great art does not come if doing what you are told. It comes if your heart, your head, and your hand, are locked together to create something great. Krueger’s painting is a perfect example of the difference between creating something beautiful and something powerful. Krueger’s painting is power.
Speaking of beauty and power, you will agree that it is quite possible for art that is beautiful not to be powerful. But, it is entirely impossible for a powerful art not to be beautiful. Power comes when boundaries are crossed and new frontiers are reached. It comes when you do something everyone else thinks you should note when you make an experiment that no one believes to be successful.
So, a great artist is a courageous one. Courage is probably the most important virtue of a great artist, because, with it, the painting gets a new meaning. It is with it that art becomes capable of inspiring questions in people and making them think about reality and life.
And if you haven’t done it already, do it now.
Now you do not need to be an artist all the time, but rather just do a postermywall exercise at home, which will radically have an impact on the way art reflects upon you
Be courageous, bold, and inspiring
Make your art so it elevates people to new heights.
And, it is important to make a statement when you create.
This is how you make your art powerful.
And you will be one step closer to achieving greatness.