Masterpiece

DEFINITION

A work done with extraordinary skill; especially a work of art, craft or intellect which is an exceptionally great achievement. To some, this means the best piece of work by a particular artist or craftsperson. Historically, a piece of work presented to a medieval guild as evidence of an apprentice's qualification to attain the rank of master. Also called masterwork. First known in English in the early 17th century, this word was derived from the Dutch meesterstuk or from the German Meisterst?ck. The French equivalent is chef-d'oeuvre. Synonymns might include: classic, jewel, magnum opus (Latin for "great work"), ne plus ultra (Latin for "nothing is higher"), nonpareil (French for "without equal"), tour de force (French for "feat of strength"), pi?ce de r?sistance (French for "piece with staying power"), summit, prize, treasure, masterstroke, and crowning achievement.Quote: "The effect of studying masterpieces is to make me admire and do otherwise." Gerard Manley Hopkins(1844-1889), British poet. "The need to be a great artist makes it hard to be an artist. The need to produce a great work of art makes it hard to produce any art at all." Julia Cameron (1815-1879), Indian-born English photographer. See photography. "The effect of studying masterpieces is to make me admire and do otherwise." Gerard Manley Hopkins(1844-1889), British poet. See photography. "I was very embarrassed when my canvases began to fetch high prices. I saw myself condemned to a future of nothing but masterpieces." Henri Matisse (1869-1954), French artist. Interview with Jacques Guenne, 1925. " Q. 'You hate the language that's used to describe art. What's wrong with words like masterpiece, seminal and genius? Frida Kahlo: 'If a masterpiece can only be made by a master and a master is defined as ?a man having control or authority,? you can see what we're up against. Considering the history of slavery, we suggest changing the words to massa' and massa's piece.' " Frida Kahlo was a Mexican painter (1907-1954). The person quoted here is not that artist, but is instead a member of the Guerrilla Girls (American, a contemporary feminist group founded in 1985), who uses the name Frida Kahlo as a pseudonym. From an interview in Confessions of the Guerrilla Girls, 1995. See genius and seminal. Also see apprenticeship, artwork, assessment, crown, piece, composition, fame, genius, love, object, objet d'art, posterity, quality, standards, success, talent, and virtuosity.

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