I recently started exploring art through wikipedia tours. Each art piece listed below is linked to its original wikipedia article. I found this list very interesting and decided to reproduce the list on Visceral Observations. 🙂
The Aphrodite of Milos, better known as the Venus de Milo, is an ancient Greek statue and one of the most famous works of ancient Greek sculpture. It is believed to depict Aphrodite (called Venus by the Romans), the Greek goddess of love and beauty. It is a marble sculpture, slightly larger than life size at 203 cm (6.7 ft) high. Its arms and original plinth have been lost.
From an inscription that was on its plinth, it is thought to be the work of Alexandros of Antioch; it was earlier mistakenly attributed to the master sculptor Praxiteles.
It is at present on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris. The story of its discovery and fame is worth reading at wikipedia page.
The Arnolfini Portrait is a painting in oils on oak panel executed by the Early Netherlandish painter Jan van Eyck in 1434. Among other titles, it is also known by several names. One of the more popular names being “The Arnolfini Wedding”.
This painting is believed to be a portrait of Giovanni di Nicolao Arnolfini and his wife in a room, presumably in their home in the Flemish city of Bruges. It is considered one of the most original and complex paintings in Western art history. It is one of the oldest very famous panel painting to have been executed in oils rather than in tempera. The painting was bought by the National Gallery in London in 1842.
The illusionism of the painting was remarkable for its time, in part for the rendering of detail, but particularly for the use of light to evoke space in an interior, for “its utterly convincing depiction of a room, as well of the people who inhabit it”. Read the complete article in wikipedia to know more about its technique and interpretation.
The Birth of Venus is a painting by Sandro Botticelli. It depicts the goddess Venus, having emerged from the sea as a full grown woman, arriving at the sea-shore. The painting is currently in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
Most famous portrait. Mona Lisa (also known as La Gioconda) is a 16th century portrait painted in oil on a poplar panel by Leonardo Da Vinci during the Italian Renaissance. The work is owned by the French government and hangs in the Musee du Louvre in Paris, France with the title Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo. I would write more, read the wikipedia article.
The Garden of Earthly Delights is a triptych (Art consisting of a painting or carving on three panels) painted by the early Netherlandish master Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1450-1516). It is housed in the Museo del Prado in Madrid since 1939.
It is Bosch’s best-known and most ambitious work. The triptych depicts several biblical and heretical scenes on a grand scale and as a “true triptych”, was probably intended to illustrate the history of mankind according to medieval Christian doctrine. Art historians and critics frequently interpret the painting as a didactic warning on the perils of life’s temptations.
The Sistine Chapel ceiling was painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512. It is one of the most renowned artworks of the High Renaissance. The ceiling is that of the large Sistine Chapel built within the Vatican by Pope Sixtus IV, begun in 1477 and finished by 1480.
Its various painted elements comprise part of a larger scheme of decoration within the Sistine Chapel which includes the large fresco of The Last Judgment on the sanctuary wall, also by Michelangelo, wall paintings by several other artists and a set of large tapestries by Raphael, the whole illustrating much of the doctrine of the Catholic Church.
Central to the ceiling decoration are nine scenes from the Book of Genesis of which the Creation of Adam is the best known, having an iconic standing equalled only by Leonardo da Vinci‘s Mona Lisa, the hands of God and Adam being reproduced in countless imitations. Visit wikipedia to read more.
The Ambassadors (1533) is a painting by Hans Holbein the Younger in the National Gallery, London. Not only is this painting a double portrait, it also contains a still life of several meticulously rendered objects, the meaning of which is the cause of much debate. It is also a much-cited example of anamorphosis (A distorted projection or perspective; especially an image distorted in such a way that it becomes visible only when viewed in a special manner) in painting. Notice the skull in the bottom center of the painting to see anamorphosis.
The Burial of the Count of Orgaz is a painting by El Greco, a painter, sculptor, and architect of the Spanish Renaissance. Widely considered among his finest works, it illustrates a popular local legend of his time. An exceptionally large painting, it is very clearly divided into two sections: heavenly above and terrestrial below. However, the painting hardly gives an impression of duality, as the upper and lower sections are brought together compositionally.
The theme of the painting is inspired from a legend of the beginning of the 14th century. In 1312, there was a certain Don Gonzalo Ruíz, who was posthumously bestowed title of Count of Orgaz. According to the legend, at the time Count of Orgaz was buried, Saint Stephen and Saint Augustine descended in person from the heavens and buried him by their own hands in front of the dazzled eyes of those present. Heavenly Above. Terrestrial below is easily understandble now.
The Night Watch is the common name of one of the most famous works by Dutch painter Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn. The painting is on prominent display in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and is its most famous painting.
The painting is renowned for three elements: its colossal size, the effective use of light and shadow, and the perception of motion in what would have been, traditionally, a static military portrait.
10. Las Meninas
Las Meninas is Spanish for The Maids of Honour. It is a 1656 painting by Diego Velazquez (1599-1660), the leading artist of the Spanish Golden Age, in the Museo del Prado in Madrid. The work’s complex and enigmatic composition raises questions about reality and illusion, and creates an uncertain relationship between the viewer and the figures depicted. Because of these complexities, Las Meninas has been one of the most widely analysed works in Western painting.
Las Meninas shows a large room in the Madrid palace of King Philip IV of Spain, and presents several figures, most identifiable from the Spanish court, captured, according to some commentators, in a particular moment as if in a snapshot. The young Infanta Margarita is surrounded by her entourage of maids of honour, chaperone, bodyguard, two dwarfs and a dog. Just behind them, Velazquez portrays himself working at a large canvas.A mirror hangs in the background and reflects the upper bodies of the king and queen.
The Death of Marat is a 1793 painting in the Neoclassic style by Jacques-Louis David. It is one of the most famous images of the French Revolution. It refers to the assassination of Jean-Paul Marat, killed on the 13th of July 1793 by Charlotte Corday.
The Third of May 1808 is a painting completed in 1814 by the Spanish master Francisco Goya, now in the Museo del Prado, Madrid. In the work, Goya sought to commemorate Spanish resistance to Napoleon’s armies during the occupation of 1808. Along with its companion piece of the same size, The Second of May 1808, it was commissioned by the provisional government of Spain at Goya’s suggestion.
The Third of May 1808 has inspired a number of other major paintings, including a series by Edouard Manet, and Pablo Picasso’s Massacre in Korea and his masterpiece Guernica.
Whistler’s Mother is an 1871 oil-on-canvas painting by American-born painter James McNeill Whistler. The painting is displayed in a frame of Whistler’s own design. It is now owned by the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. It occasionally tours worldwide. Although an icon of American art, it rarely appears in the United States.
There has been divergent use of the image in the Victorian era and later, especially in the United States, as an icon for motherhood, affection for parents, and “family values” in general. For example, in 1934 the U.S. Post office issued a stamp engraved with a stylized image of Whistler’s Mother, accompanied by the slogan “In Memory and In Honor of the Mothers of America.”
One of my favorites. A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte – 1884 is Georges Seurat‘s most famous work. It is an example of pointillism (A style of painting in which small distinct points of primary colors create the impression of a wide selection of secondary and intermediate colors.) The island of la Grande Jatte is in the Seine in Paris. Although for many years it was an industrial site, it is today the site of a public garden and a housing development.
Seurat spent two years painting it, focusing scrupulously on the landscape of the park. He would go and sit in the park and make numerous sketches of the various figures in order to perfect their form. He concentrated on the issues of color, light, and form.
15. The Starry Night
The Starry Night is a painting by Dutch post-impressionist artist Vincent van Gogh. The painting depicts the view outside his sanitarium room window at night, although it was painted from memory during the day. Since 1941, it has been in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Widely hailed as van Gogh’s magnum opus, the painting has been reproduced many times and is one of his most renowned paintings.
Haystacks is the title of a series of impressionist paintings by Claude Monet. The primary subjects of all of the paintings in the series are stacks of hay that have been stacked in the field after the harvest season. The title refers primarily to a twenty-five canvas series begun the autumn of 1890 and continued through the following spring, using that year’s harvest.
The series is known for its thematic use of repetition to show differences in perception of light across various times of day, seasons, and types of weather. The subjects were painted in fields near Monet’s home in Giverny, France.
17. The Scream
Well, everyone has heard of it or seen it. The Scream is a seminal series of expressionist paintings by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, depicting an agonised figure against a blood red sky. It is said by some to symbolise the human species overwhelmed by an attack of existential angst. The landscape in the background is Oslofjord, viewed from the hill of Ekeberg, in Oslo, Norway.
Edvard Munch created several versions of The Scream in various media. The Scream has also been the target of several high-profile art thefts. Hop on to wikipedia to read more.
Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (The Young Ladies of Avignon) is a large oil painting by Pablo Picasso that depicts five prostitutes in a brothel from Avinyó street (Barcelona). The eye-catching painting is one of Picasso’s most famous, widely considered to be a seminal work in the early development of Cubism (Remember, cubism was pioneered by Picasso).
Fountain is a 1917 work by Marcel Duchamp. It is one of the pieces which he called readymades (also known as found art), because he made use of an already existing object-in this case a urinal, which he titled Fountain and signed “R. Mutt”. It was submitted to an art show as an act of provocation, but was lost shortly after this. It is a major landmark in 20th century art. Replicas commissioned by Duchamp in the 1960s are now on display in museums.
This art also reminds me of My Name is Amar, Akbar, Anthony song.
20. American Gothic
American Gothic is a painting by Grant Wood from 1930. Portraying a pitchfork-holding farmer and a younger woman (imagined to be his wife or daughter) in front of a house of Carpenter Gothic style, it is one of the most familiar images in 20th century American art.
Wood wanted to depict the traditional roles of men and women as the man is holding a pitchfork symbolizing hard labor. Wood referenced late 19th century photography and posed his sitters in a manner reminiscent of early American portraiture. It is also one of the most spoofed painitngs. 🙂
Guernica is a monumental painting by Pablo Picasso, depicting the Nazi German bombing of Guernica (Spain) by twenty-eight bombers, on April 26, 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. The attack killed between 250 and 1,600 people, and many more were injured.
The Spanish government commissioned Pablo Picasso to paint a large mural for the Spanish display at the Paris International Exposition (the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris). The Guernica bombing inspired Picasso. Within 15 days of the attack, Pablo Picasso began painting this mural.
On completion Guernica was displayed around the world in a brief tour, becoming famous and widely acclaimed. This tour brought the Spanish civil war to the world’s attention. Guernica epitomizes the tragedies of war and the suffering war inflicts upon individuals. This monumental work has eclipsed the bounds of a single time and place, becoming a perpetual reminder of the tragedies of war, an anti-war symbol, and an embodiment of peace.
Nighthawks (1942) is a painting by Edward Hopper that portrays people sitting in a downtown diner late at night. It is not only Hopper’s most famous painting, but also one of the most recognizable in American art. It is currently in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.
This is my least preferred item on the list.
Campbell’s Soup Cans (sometimes referred to as 32 Campbell’s Soup Cans) is a work of art produced in 1962 by Andy Warhol. It consists of 32 canvases, each consisting of a painting of a Campbell’s Soup can-one of each of the canned soup varieties the company offered at the time. The individual paintings were produced with a semi-mechanized silkscreen process, using a non-painterly style. Campbell’s Soup Cans’ reliance on themes from popular culture helped to usher in pop art as a major art movement.
Which one is your favorite? If you have a any other art piece that you recommend, please write in the comments. You can find wikipedia tours here.