Wait until you see my new masterpiece!

bonsai barry

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There has been a lot of discussion concerning “Masterpieces” on this forum lately.

We use the word, “Masterpiece” so much, that I wonder if we cheapen the term. There are thousands of artists (in other mediums) alive today that recognize that they will never create a masterpiece. There are thousands of professional painters that make a successful and rewarding living painting excellent pieces of art but none that will ever be called a masterpiece. This does not mean that they do not enjoy a great feeling of reward as they pursue their artistic vision, they just have an honest appraisal of their abilities.

In bonsai, we throw this term around as if anyone of us might produce a masterpiece given enough time, experience and/or money. Do we have lower standards in bonsai than other mediums regarding the making of a masterpiece? Do we feel the artistic vision and abilities are more easily obtained?

Is there anyone that contributes to these discussions that would can claim to own a masterpiece? Is there anyone that anticipates creating or even owning a masterpiece in the future?

Just a few ramblings on a dreary Sunday afternoon. What are your thoughts?
 
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There has been a lot of discussion concerning “Masterpieces” on this forum lately.

We use the word, “Masterpiece” so much, that I wonder if we cheapen the term. There are thousands of artists (in other mediums) alive today that recognize that they will never a masterpiece. There are thousands of professional painters that make a successful and rewarding living painting excellent pieces of art but none that will ever be called a masterpiece. This does not mean that they do not enjoy a great feeling of reward as they pursue their artistic vision, they just have an honest appraisal of their abilities.

In bonsai, we throw this term around as if anyone of us might produce a masterpiece given enough time, experience and/or money. Do we have lower standards in bonsai than other mediums regarding the making of a masterpiece? Do we feel the artistic vision and abilities are more easily obtained?

Is there anyone that contributes to these discussions that would can claim to own a masterpiece? Is there anyone that anticipates creating or even owning a masterpiece in the future?

Just a few ramblings on a dreary Sunday afternoon. What are your thoughts?

Barry. Stop it. You are depressing us. All except Hans.
 
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There has been a lot of discussion concerning “Masterpieces” on this forum lately.

We use the word, “Masterpiece” so much, that I wonder if we cheapen the term. There are thousands of artists (in other mediums) alive today that recognize that they will never a masterpiece. There are thousands of professional painters that make a successful and rewarding living painting excellent pieces of art but none that will ever be called a masterpiece. This does not mean that they do not enjoy a great feeling of reward as they pursue their artistic vision, they just have an honest appraisal of their abilities.

During my years in the "art society" I have barely heard "masterpieces" being discussed. I think the word belongs more in a craft setting, like cabinet making for instance that I've also studied. However, this might be due to difference in language.

Sorry for this short and perhaps confusing reply, it's 4 in the morning and I need to sleep.
 
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There has been a lot of discussion concerning “Masterpieces” on this forum lately.

We use the word, “Masterpiece” so much, that I wonder if we cheapen the term. There are thousands of artists (in other mediums) alive today that recognize that they will never a masterpiece. There are thousands of professional painters that make a successful and rewarding living painting excellent pieces of art but none that will ever be called a masterpiece. This does not mean that they do not enjoy a great feeling of reward as they pursue their artistic vision, they just have an honest appraisal of their abilities.

In bonsai, we throw this term around as if anyone of us might produce a masterpiece given enough time, experience and/or money. Do we have lower standards in bonsai than other mediums regarding the making of a masterpiece? Do we feel the artistic vision and abilities are more easily obtained?

Is there anyone that contributes to these discussions that would can claim to own a masterpiece? Is there anyone that anticipates creating or even owning a masterpiece in the future?

Just a few ramblings on a dreary Sunday afternoon. What are your thoughts?

I really have no idea where you are attempting to go with this thread, but I think I can solve the problem and answer most of your questions as well as those of others.

I think the main problem here is not that "we have lower standards in bonsai than other mediums regarding the making of a masterpiece" or that we "feel the artistic vision and abilities are more easily obtained" as you stated, but instead that the very word "masterpiece" brings to mind, for many, the thought of some unattainable height of artistic creation.

Words are funny, people toss them around, debate them, drag them through the gutter, without even having the slightest clue what they mean. But words are pretty much precise in the sense that they all have standard definitions, this makes precise, intelligent communication possible. Without such universally accepted definitions of words, no one could communicate at all. This is where many debates and misunderstandings come into play, one person not knowing what a word means.

We can solve that problem with the word "masterpiece" by simply looking at the standard definition of the word. Now, I'll also head off other problems by simply stating that it doesn't matter in the least what a person "thinks" a word means or what it should mean, all that matters is what the words actually does mean, according to accepted definitions.

Let's go to the Encarta Dictionary and look up "masterpiece"

mas·ter·piece (plural mas·ter·piec·es)

noun

Definition:

1. great artistic work: an exceptionally good piece of creative work, e.g. a book, movie, or performance ( sometimes considered offensive )


2. artist's best work: the best piece of work by a particular artist or craftsperson ( sometimes considered offensive )


3. work earning recognition by guild: the piece of work presented to a medieval guild to show that its maker was worthy of the rank of master craftsman



Now, let's answer your questions with the very definitions of the word.


Is there anyone that contributes to these discussions that would can claim to own a masterpiece?
The second definition of the word can certainly pertain to every single person who works on bonsai. Does it cheapen the word? In the broad sense, maybe, but each artist has his or hers own best creation, their own masterpiece, this goes for all art forms.

But let's look at the first definition, which defines a masterpiece as a great artistic work or an exceptionally good piece of creative work. In answer to your question quoted above, yes, Pall, Valavanis, Van Meer, all have created bonsai that are no doubt exceptional and in some cases, certainly great. These three (although there are others) are members here and do post here as well.

Wait, could the third definition also answer your question? If we consider the medieval guild to be the bonsai community, then a masterpiece is a bonsai presented to the community that shows its creator is worthy of the rank of master craftsman.

Is there anyone that anticipates creating or even owning a masterpiece in the future?
Certainly everyone will own a masterpiece as defined in definition #2, those with talent could well create a masterpiece as defined in the first or third definition, some may even buy a masterpiece as defined in the first definition.


It is impossible for someone to condemn the recent discussions about masterpieces without putting forth what they think a masterpiece is. Even in putting forth what they personally think, they accomplish nothing because this is only a personal opinion and one most likely not shared by the artists, the critics, the publishers, the community, or the public.

Think about it this way, how many times have we heard someone say that such and such a painting is considered a masterpiece, but they don't think it is. Did someone read that, run right to the museum and take it down in embarrassment? No, it still hangs, it is still a masterpiece, and it always will be because it was declared to be so by the people who declare such things.

Ever see a film win an Oscar that you hated? Ever see a book win the Hugo that you detested? Ever see a bonsai make the cover of a major magazine or win the Gingko that you didn't like? Get used to it, that is simply the way it is.

One man's opinion, a dozen opinions, do not make or break the masterpiece. Even if they are qualified to judge such a thing, and so very few people are, far less than think they are. All we can do is put forth our thoughts, but we can at least base them on solid definitions instead of personal feelings. I do not like every "masterpiece" I see displayed at the DIA, but I recognize their inherent value, I respect the techniques, and I admire the work for what it is and I try and see what others do, many times I am surprised when I finally see it, other times I am saddened that I can not.

In closing I will repeat what I said at the begging of this rant, it doesn't matter in the least what a person "thinks" a word means or what it should mean, all that matters is what the words actually do mean, according to accepted definitions.

What I think a masterpiece is unimportant, what you think is unimportant, what is important is the work.

When someone posts a bonsai, first we should enjoy it, second we should study it, thirdly we should learn from it. All bonsai teach, it is the person that spends time condemning, complaining, or insulting that is deaf to this teaching.

When someone posts a masterpiece bonsai, do you look for reasons it is not, or for reasons it is? Do you enjoy the tree or make sure no one else does? Do you study it to see why it is a masterpiece, or do you condemn it before you even see it?

Lastly, are you part of the problem or part of the solution?



Will
 
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Will,

I'm sorry to say that I think your arguments are so flawed nothing of what you say really makes sense to me. Here's why:

But words are pretty much precise in the sense that they all have standard definitions, this makes precise, intelligent communication possible. Without such universally accepted definitions of words, no one could communicate at all.

The word "good". If I change my tone of voice the meaning changes. The word itself still means the same, but I communicate the opposite. The words themselves aren't that important as they are only means to an end i.e to communicate. You can't really read a poem with the help of the Encarta Dictionary, interpret the words for what they actually mean and say "Yeah, I got it..."

Now, I'll also head off other problems by simply stating that it doesn't matter in the least what a person "thinks" a word means or what it should mean, all that matters is what the words actually does mean, according to accepted definitions.

Yes, it does matter what a person thinks it means because that person will make a judgement wether the tree (or whatever) fits the description. This is obviously true since you tried to define masterpiece but others disagreed. Even the definition you provide has two potential meanings which are hardly compatible (but they can be). Also, context has a pretty important impact on how a word should be interpreted.

It is impossible for someone to condemn the recent discussions about masterpieces without putting forth what they think a masterpiece is. Even in putting forth what they personally think, they accomplish nothing because this is only a personal opinion and one most likely not shared by the artists, the critics, the publishers, the community, or the public.

They accomplish just about as much as the person that started the subject since that is also a personal opinion. If you just accomplished nothing, why continue the debate?
 
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The word "good". If I change my tone of voice the meaning changes. The word itself still means the same, but I communicate the opposite. The words themselves aren't that important as they are only means to an end i.e to communicate. You can't really read a poem with the help of the Encarta Dictionary, interpret the words for what they actually mean and say "Yeah, I got it..."
Good. Better. Best.

Do we really need to teach basic language comprehension here?

"Come, read to me some poem,
Some simple and heartfelt lay,
That shall soothe this restless feeling,
And banish the thoughts of day."


Do you think Longfellow was talking about a bonsai here? You could interpret the word poem as bonsai and give all sorts of inane reasons why, but at the end of the day (pun intended), he was just talking about a poem. A poem as defined as a poem, nothing more, nothing less.

Yes, it does matter what a person thinks it means because that person will make a judgement wether the tree (or whatever) fits the description.
Definitions, by their very nature are self descriptive and need no cystal ball to be understood. Take the above definitions of masterpiece, they are clear, precise, and to the point. One would be hard pressed to read them as anything other than they are. They leave no room for "creative reading."

In short, it is what it is.

They accomplish just about as much as the person that started the subject since that is also a personal opinion. If you just accomplished nothing, why continue the debate?
Who started the subject? Who is continuing it? I'm sorry, you lost me.


Will


-Poem quoted above: "The Day Is Done" - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
 
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bonsai barry

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I really have no idea where you are attempting to go with this thread, but I think I can solve the problem and answer most of your questions as well as those of others.


It is impossible for someone to condemn the recent discussions about masterpieces without putting forth what they think a masterpiece is.


Lastly, are you part of the problem or part of the solution?



Will

Sorry, Will, if I offended you, that was not the purpose of the post. I simply wondered what people thought about the term masterpiece and how it relates to bonsai. You have presented your position well.

As to "where I was attempting to go with this thread"... I guess I was simply publically recognizing the fact that I am nearly certain that I don't have the ability to produce a masterpiece, but that doesn't diminish the joy I get everyday when I work with my trees.

PS Hans, I believe you are the exception to the rule!
 
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Sorry, Will, if I offended you, that was not the purpose of the post. I simply wondered what people thought about the term masterpiece and how it relates to bonsai. You have presented your position well.

As to "where I was attempting to go with this thread"... I guess I was simply publically recognizing the fact that I am nearly certain that I have the ability to produce a masterpiece, but that doesn't diminish the joy I get everyday when I work with my trees.

Barry,

I apologize that my rant seemed directed at you personally, I should have been more clear and also realized that when you quote someone, anything you say afterward seems to be directed at them. I meant no anger toward you and actually wasn't angry at all, just excited about the topic.

I may well never produce a world class tree myself, but every one of my trees are masterpieces, just ask my 6 year old daughter. ;)

Have a good night,


Will
 

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Will,
It seems you're upset about people being too negative when looking at some very nice trees. However, you're being very negative about their negativity:D

In my opinion it absolutely matters what a person "thinks" a word means. Perception is much more significant than reality. People associate words with emotions, sensations, memories, etc, rather than with Merriam-Webster and won't always have the same response to a word.
 
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In my opinion it absolutely matters what a person "thinks" a word means. Perception is much more significant than reality.

In which case, if I "think" that you just said I was the nicest, smartest, and most interesting person you ever had the pleasure of meeting, then it is true?

Cool :D


Taking it futher....

If I "think" all my bonsai are masterpieces, then they are?

Wow, this whole bonsai master thing is much easier than I thought!

No wonder there are so many masters on-line!

;)


Will
 
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Will,

I'm sorry to say that I think your arguments are so flawed nothing of what you say really makes sense to me. Here's why:

While we are on the subject of word study, here are a few you may wish to digest : truculent, pugnacious, quarrelsome and bellicose


There you are smarter already.

Further, to dismiss what Will is saying because one may often change meaning with inflection is a vast oversimplification. One can discover the meaning of words. However, this is sometimes difficult work that some are unwilling to do. It often helps to begin a word study by utilizing Etymology. Ah, how the internet makes this easy and the following site is a good start.

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=masterpiece
1605, from master + piece. A translation of Du. meesterstuk "work by which a craftsman attains the rank of master" (cf. Ger. Meisterstück).

That was not so hard was it?
 

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2. artist's best work: the best piece of work by a particular artist or craftsperson

Well, what I consider my best work changes from week to week......

It's good to know that my benches are full of future and former masterpieces:)
 

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It am truely amazed with the pugnaciousness the simple written word generates. Why does the truculency of ones opinion, inspire such bellicosity?
 
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Obviously.
Mile high threw out some appropriate words earlier that seem particularly well suited here as well, so I will just repeat them.

"truculent, pugnacious, quarrelsome and bellicose"
 
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Mile high threw out some appropriate words earlier that seem particularly well suited here as well, so I will just repeat them.

"truculent, pugnacious, quarrelsome and bellicose"

I agree and I apologize. I realized me arguing what you said wasn't going to make any kind of difference since both of us can be pretty stubborn. I just wanted to end my part of the discussion (in a stupid way) but then I couldn't help myself so I posted some more (which was stupid).

Anyway, sorry!
 

Rick Moquin

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I had several masterpieces in my garden. Unfortunately repeated exposure to quantum forces left me with average trees. Not only did these forces diminish their beauty, they are now mere atoms floating in space which fail to be captured on film. Really, they were all masterpieces...

I would post photos to prove it, but for some reason the exposure to these forces must have been so severe that, although I see the trees on the table in my photography area, when photographed all that remains is the royal blue backdrop.
 
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I agree and I apologize. I realized me arguing what you said wasn't going to make any kind of difference since both of us can be pretty stubborn. I just wanted to end my part of the discussion (in a stupid way) but then I couldn't help myself so I posted some more (which was stupid).
An important point was made though, we may have butted heads and both threw out some words that were unnecessary, but we did accomplish something.

During the debate where some people claimed that the best material someone could work with was collected stock and in which they suggested that nursery material was simply a waste of time for all, beginners included, I decided to show some great bonsai here that were created from nursery stock.

The point of showing these bonsai was to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that great bonsai can indeed be created from this source of material and to dismiss this source as a waste of time was foolhardy.

This idea was to counter a trend I have seen on many forums of "experienced" people telling new comers that they would be better off starting out with collected material or pre-bonsai, suggesting that they will accomplish nothing and learn nothing from nursery stock, this in my eyes, was a falsehood. There are many things to learn from nursery stock, from material that requires learning root work, branch development, etc, and many a good bonsai has been created from such.

So I decided to post the nursery stock masterpiece thread with the sole intention of just showing some great bonsai that were created from nursery material. This was meant to show that great bonsai can be created from such material, countering the claims otherwise.

Yet, as so often happens here, a couple people focused on anything but the trees, instead of enjoying the trees, marveling at the techniques used, admiring the artist's work they decided to project their own person interpretation of the word "masterpiece" into the conversation. A few did this only because I started the thread, a few just to be argumentative, and a few because they didn't know any better.

Was the title bad? Obviously. The word masterpiece is defined different by individuals, they have their own expectation of what a masterpiece should be ingrained in their mind, regardless of what the word actually means. But if you think of it like I did, the best nursery stock bonsai I could locate, the best I could find created from nursery stock.....a gallery of only the best of the nursery stock bonsai I could find...then they are indeed all masterpieces...selected from many, these were the best of the pool I selected from, so they were indeed masterpieces.

Yet, the real problem wasn't the word masterpiece or the definition of it. The real problem was that instead of the trees, some attacked the word, the same few people who swore great bonsai could not be made from nursery material, they could never admit that such was true without admitting they were mistaken.

Hence I decided to move the gallery to AoB where it could be posted for posperity without having a ton of garbage dumped on it. I am quite sure that once it is posted, we will see much pot stirring here anyhow.

In the upcoming AoB gallery, I have changed the name to Nursery Stock Bonsai in order to take away this argument and turn the focus on to the trees, where it should be.

Rest assured, people will complain about that as well, the same few people, but the rest of us can continue moving forward, I know I will.


Will
 
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I had several masterpieces in my garden. Unfortunately repeated exposure to quantum forces left me with average trees. Not only did these forces diminish their beauty, they are now mere atoms floating in space which fail to be captured on film. Really, they were all masterpieces...

Wow, the exact same thing happens to me almost daily!


Amazing ;)



Will
 

Rick Moquin

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Back to the thread at hand, there are many great trees out there, but few masterpieces. We were given a tool many years ago, that IMO governs everything around us, should we choose to accept its principles and apply them at face value. Fibonacci's equation when applied in and against the context of this discussion ensures that, we cannot possibly diminish the true meaning of masterpieces by the mere voicing of the word.
 

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