It often happens that we recall the spirit of a work of art more than the physical details of the work itself. Whether abstract or figurative, an artist's deft use of color, material, scale and form can craft an atmosphere all their own.
J.M.W. Turner broke new ground by depicting scenes of nature and cityscapes with frenetic, hazy brushstrokes that captured the energy of a location in addition to its topography. By using large blocks of color with soft borders that seemed to float in space, Mark Rothko created a haunting (almost spiritual) experience for viewers with his mammoth paintings. Meanwhile, photographer Diane Arbus developed images that made even the everyday seem foreign or eerie, such as with her famous photograph of young twins.
Standing before a great work of art is an undoubtedly powerful experience. But it's the emotional echo that work leaves behind that defines how we come to remember it.