A Masterwork

2003-07-17

I wasn't very excited about my recent trip to IETF 57 in Vienna (especially since it followed so soon on the heels of my trip to OSCON 2003 in Portland, Oregon) until I realized that the Kunsthistoriches Museum in Vienna contains a painting by Vermeer. So during my time in Vienna I stole an hour to get acquainted in person with The Art of Painting:

A whole museum full of art, and I was interested in only one painting! Call me a snob, but I'd rather spend one hour with a masterwork than wander aimlessly through gallery after gallery of lesser works. To me, Vermeer is still the greatest of painters (although I do love the paintings of Joaquin Sorolla).

Seeing this painting reminded me of something Phil Schaap said during the marathon Duke Ellington centennial broadcast on WKCR in 1999: 500 years from now, when people want to know what jazz was, they will listen to the music of Duke Ellington. There are certain artists whose work is built to last, whose works people will still turn to for inspiration and edification in a thousand years or more: Homer, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, Bach, Beethoven, and a very few others. I think Vermeer is in that select group.


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