What makes a masterpiece?


By Christiane Struyven, Art historian and honorary lawyer

How to define a masterpiece today? Which criteria are applicable in our epoch? This talk shows and discusses 14 masterpieces from different epochs, continents and disciplines. These include the Assyrian bas-relief of King Ashurbanipal which dates from 645 B.C.; Greek classical bronze nudes from 440 B.C. and Nigerian terracotta sculptures made by anonymous sculptors in the 13th century. Why do these ancient artworks continue to fascinate us today? How is it that famous paintings such as The Descent from the Cross by Van der Weyden and other artworks by Rembrandt, Monet, Matisse and Rothko remain so captivating? How to explain why a 1951 interior by Mies Van der Rohe or Christo’s 1985 wrapping of the Pont Neuf in Paris, still inspire us? This talk explores the qualities and ongoing relevance of masterpieces of all origins and eras.

Languages: FR & NL

Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus, 1485 ca © Le Gallerie degli Uffizi