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What Makes a “Master” in Arts?

May 5, 2011

When in college taking my masters degree, the instructor for my painting class asked this question: “Does having a ‘Master’s Degree’ make an artist a ‘Master’ in the arts”.

I stated that a Master’s Degree was no guarantee of the level of expertise in an artist.  Say a person has never done artwork before their Bachelor’s degree, then they get a Master’s Degree.  Does six to eight years of training makes one automatically a ‘Master’ of the arts?

WHO ARE THE “OLD MASTERS”?

Think: Teenage Ninja Turtles and you have the names of the most famous of the “Old Master”.  Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo, and Raphael.  Personally, I found the use of the names of Renaissance masters in this movie an interesting choice.

Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci: Mona Lisa
Use of the technique: sfumato
[he invented]

Let’s look at some the training and achievements of JUST one of the “Old Masters”:

LEONARDO DA VINCI

– apprenticeship with Andrea del Verrochio, Sandro Botticelli was a fellow apprentice

– 17 years in the service of the Duke of Milan

–  began using notebooks in Milan to record his ideas, especially inventions, where he anticipated the technology of the airplane, parachute and armored tank.

– invented the painting technique: sfumato

David by Michelangelo Buonarroti

Then there is:

Michelangelo Buonarroti

Michelangelo began  his art training with a painter by the name of Ghirlandaio. After a year he switched to the school at the Medici Gardens studying for years with leading artists and scholars.  By 24, he had become very adept at the work and completed the PIETA.  He was well-known, admired, with two biographies written about him [while still living]. He obtained and completed many commissions, including the one shown here: DAVID

These are just two examples of the “Old Masters”.  I only summarized their work and achievements.  Artists have been encouraged for centuries to emulate these artists, but are not in the education system today.

So, what is your opinion? Is a person a “Master” [ like the Renaissance “Old Masters”] if they obtain a Master’s degree in fine arts?

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