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THE BURNING OF MASTERPIECES

The story about the mother who apparently burned masterpieces created by Picasso, Monet and Matisse in an attempt to protect her son who allegedly looted them reeks of criminality and tragedy.

We know all about the crimes that took place: theft, vandalism and some attorneys might attempt to make a case for treason.

Yet when it comes to tragedy, this story has so many layers.  Let’s unravel a few.

First of all, it’s tragic that someone feels they must steal something that belongs in the public domain.  Most people in the world will have no contact whatsoever with masterpiece paintings.  They may not even see them in a book.  Now, it appears they’ll never see the pieces that have been destroyed.  Destroying those works is almost like murdering the artists who took valuable time out of their lives to create them.  For the time it took them to create those particular works, their lives have been snuffed out.  Tragic.

I cannot fathom the pure selfishness that borders on evil.  In an attempt to protect a loved one who stole something that didn’t belong to him to begin with, you burn the loot to get rid of the evidence.  Hollywood producers should be all over this story.  Yes, it reeks of the worst in humanity on an operatic scale.

But once again, there’s a HUGE point that everyone continues to miss when stories like this are reported.  This is perhaps the biggest tragedy when it comes to the burning of masterpieces …

… The only time we ever really hear about art in the media is when it involves extremely valuable masterpieces created by the Old Masters.  Once again, the general public is getting a brainwashing about art; the only art worthy of mention are the works created by long dead, yet rich and famous artists. 

For people who know nothing about art, including most people who work in the media, art remains a thing of the past.  For them, art is a frill, a trifle, an effete thing that dangles in the consciousness of those who have little more to do than sit back with their feet up and entertain the silver linings of their existence while popping bon-bons in their mouths as servants fan them with oversized feathers.

The biggest tragedy here is that people don’t understand that ALL art is valuable.  Okay, bad art isn’t as valuable as good art, but ALL art has value.  I truly love and respect the works of the Old Masters (did you notice I capitalized O and M?), but I also adore the efforts of so many living artists who are creating some of the most poignant and profound work that I’ve ever seen … and believe me, I look at art every single day.

The ultimate tragedy of the burning of masterpieces is that we STILL DON’T GET IT.  We still don’t respect art.  We respect fame, we respect fortune, we respect the art market and we respect something that we’re told is worth a lot of money, but we don’t respect ART.

If we TRULY respected art, we’d pay tribute to all of those LIVING artists who are descendants and disciples of Picasso, Monet, Matisse and others.  If we TRULY respected art, LIVING artists wouldn’t be struggling today as they do.  If we TRULY respected art, galleries and museums everywhere would be packed to the rafters every day of the week.  But we don’t.

The burning of masterpieces is all so abrupt.  It puts a dead stop to things.  Game over.  You can only hope that we’ve learned something here.

The only time we value something is when someone has burned it ... and maybe not even then.



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