Let’s have a look at one of the greatest sculptures of all time, Michaelangelo’s Pieta. I think the place to start may be with Mary’s face. This is not a cliche of grief at all. She’s feeling grief, yes, but there’s something holy about it. Do you feel it? Is it moving to you?
Notice that you can’t describe what she’s feeling with any sort of intellectual statement. You can allude to what it may be, as I did in calling it a kind of holy grief. But this emotion that Michaelangelo is portraying can be very present to you when you look at this sculpture. It can be right before you, present and available for you to appreciate, experience and enjoy. That’s what a work of art is. That’s an emotional insight. Emotional insight, as I often note on this site, is what communicates an emotion and the meaning of that emotion. It is the fundamental thing in art.
The amazing thing about a great sculpture is that it is moving regardless of the angle from which you look at it. It’s like an infinite number of paintings all combined into one mind-numbingly brilliant achievement.
Would it fry your brain even more to realize that the Pieta was carved out of a single piece of rock?