Archive for the ‘Famous Paintings’ Category

The Most Representative Painting of the Baroque Period

Monday, June 29th, 2009

One of the paintings that best represents the Baroque period would have to be the Flight into Egypt, which was painted in 1597 by Caravaggio. The Baroque period distinguished itself by adding modern images to biblical historical scenes and in this painting Caravaggio demonstrates his great ability to do just that.

This painting does not represent just one biblical scene, but a combination of many of the bibles stories that involve the fleeing of the Holy family into Egypt, to avoid the ire of Herod, who was trying to kill the Christ child.  In the painting Caravaggio chose to paint Mary asleep with the baby Jesus, and Joseph stands holding a manuscript that is given to him by the angel. The manuscript represents the modern man.  The angel stands to the side and is singing a hymn to Mary on the violin, the violin being an instrument of the 1600s and non existent during Christ’s period.

By adding features like the violin and the manuscript Caravaggio has managed to make this biblical story more modern, something that the Baroque man can identify with. This was Caravaggio’s first large scale work, the painting epitomizes the Baroque period because of the nature of the work, the tones, the shift in dark and light shadowing, and the realistic modern subjects. Much of Caravaggios work ranks among the highest as representative of the Baroque period. It is a shame that he was only able to work for about 10 years before being killed.

Marilyn Monroe (Marilyn Diptych)- Third Most Influential Work of Modern Art

Monday, May 4th, 2009


Andy Warhol no doubt has a strong influence on the modern art movement as his works have become some of the classic definitions of what modern art stands for.  His 100 Soup Cans or Marilyn Diptych have taken an iconic place in art history, being easily identifiable as a Warhol piece by even the most casual of observers.  Some pieces, however, have placed more influence on modern art than any of the others and out of all of these, Marilyn Diptych perhaps more than any other.  In 2004, this Warhol piece was named the third most influential work of modern art in a survey conducted between 500 artists and art critics.

The piece was constructed in the four months following Marilyn Monroe’s untimely suicide in August of 1962.  Upon hearing the news of the star’s passing, Andy Warhol began to construct a work of art in dedication to her, which some have come to believe represents the mortality of her glamorous life.  50 images of the actress, all the same, were used in the construction of this piece in a grid of 5 rows and 10 columns.  The single image used was taken from a publicity photograph of Marilyn Monroe from the 1953 film Niagara.  The 25 images on the left hand side of the artwork are all in startling color, dramatized for a loud effect.  The 25 images on the left hand side of the piece are all in black and white, providing a stark contrast to the bright colors of the other side.

It has been postulated that Andy Warhol wanted to touch both upon the frailness of human life and the presence that celebrity can have in the everyday life.  Marilyn Monroe, by and large, was a household name and the repetitiveness of her image in Marilyn Diptych reinforces the fact that everyone knows who she was.  The color scheme reminds us all that she, like all of us, will eventually fade away and that as bright as we may be at one time in our lives, we will eventually fade to black as well.


Jackson Pollock’s No. 5

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Jackson Pollock is considered by many to be one of the leading artists of the Abstract Expressionist movement.  His work could often be considered representative of the entire movement, as it symbolizes the desire to capture the emotional and expressive sides of the artist’s thoughts on a subject rather than a representation of the reality of the event.  Pollock’s use of action painting, made by spontaneous flinging, dribbling, or smearing of paint onto a canvas, helps to capture more of the act of painting itself rather than what the paint is meant to represent.  However, one of Pollock’s paintings seems to stand out more than the others.  Arguably the most famous and, to date, the most expensive painting ever sold in the world, No. 5, 1948 can be seen as a defining example of Abstract Expression.

The painting was made on an 8 foot by 4 foot piece of fiberboard and has thick amounts of brown and yellow paint drizzled onto it.  The layout of the painting gives it a very nest-like appearance, inspiring different emotions in those viewing it.  Generally, though, this is the most well received of Pollock’s work and this painting can usually be identified as a work of Abstract Expressionism.

Edvard Munch – The Scream

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Edvar Munch - The Scream

One of the most famous paintings known to the world is Edvard Munch’s The Scream.  This work of art was first created by Munch in 1893 and was first titled, “The Scream of Nature.”  Munch went on to recreate a series of this painting however, using different materials over the next 17 years.  In 1895, Munch recreated the painting in lithograph before repainting it again in 1910 with oil and pastels.  The work has since found a place in our culture, becoming almost as recognizable to the common person as, perhaps, the Mona Lisa or Starry Night.

The painting is popular because of it’s stark, almost disturbing figure which is standing in the middle of a road, hands clapped to its face, screaming.  The sky is a deep red and a body of water is in the background.  Munch recorded an incident in his diary in which he was walking with two friends down a path and, as the sun was setting, the sky suddenly turned a blood red and Munch suddenly felt a deep exhaustion, as if he could feel “an infinite scream passing through Nature.”  This feeling, captured so acutely, became the painting which is now known as The Scream.  This painting helped to usher in works of art which have more Expressionistic backgrounds, capturing the feeling of the moment instead of the sights.

Roy Lichtenstein Pop Art – Drowning Girl

Monday, November 10th, 2008

Roy Lichtenstein - Drowning Girl

Roy Lichtenstein produced a number of works that he interpreted from various sources, many of them found within the pages of comic books.  These pieces have come to be known as a standard for Pop Art, seeing one will immediately evoke thoughts of Pop Culture and the place where it stands in our society.  There are any numbers of Lichtenstein pieces, which can do this, but Drowning Girl seems to be one of the most identifiable and beloved pieces of the general public today.

The piece is popular both because it is colorfully and texturally rich, as well as the content.  The image, in which a young, beautiful woman is sinking under the water during what appears to be a turbulent storm, thinks to herself that she would rather drown than call for Brad to come help her.  The image is humorous because of the statement that it makes about drama in our culture.  The situation is ludicrous with someone preferring death out of feelings of spite.  However, this is a situation that one would all too easily find in the dramatic presentations of the day.  Drowning Girl serves as a statement about Pop Culture, both the ridiculousness as well as the entertaining, melodramatic quality about it.

Lichtenstein put a great deal of effort into the mechanics of the painting as well.  He took liberties with the original piece, which depicted the boyfriend clinging to a capsized boat in the background as well as different text.  By narrowing in heavily on the drowning girl and slightly changing the words in her thought bubble, Lichtenstein was able to take the one particular element of the original drawing and place all emphasis on the melodrama of the situation.  Additionally, Lichtenstein made heavy use of Benday dots, a form of coloring, which was also frequently used in comic books.  By using these strong colors and textures to highlight the melodrama of the situation, Lichtenstein ensured that Drowning Girl would remain an excellent example of Pop Art.

Painting Interpretation Through the Years

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

Jan Van Eyk - Portrait of Mr. Arnolfini and his WifeImages have had different meanings throughout time.  In any culture images have a certain meaning and they produce certain feelings such as peace, tranquility, and even hope. Throughout history these images have changed and the meaning or feelings those images inspire has also changed.

Let’s take for example the painting of “The Marriage Giovanni Arnolfini and Giovanna Cenami” by Jan van Eyck, which was painted in 1434.  This visual image was well understood in the 15th century, but it is not interpreted similarly today.

At the time, this painting was a type of “wedding certificate.” Their grave faces indicate the responsibility of marriage. The green dress that the bride is wearing indicates fertility, and was the traditional wedding dress color of the time.  She is not pregnant as may be thought in this day and age, but the swelling of her abdomen suggests great female beauty for the 15th century.

The lack of shoes was a religious symbol that indicated the standing on holy ground, and the burning candle symbolizes the presence of Christ. Now unless we knew about these images and what they presented in the 15th century, people would have no idea of what this painting represented in today’s time. The same is probably true, if we took a painting of Andy Warhol’s “Soup can” back to the 15th century. Do you think they would understand that it is a representation of Modern day life.

The Most Representative Romantic Painting

Friday, May 2nd, 2008


Caspar David Friedrich, Wanderer above the Sea of FogPerhaps the most representative romantic painting is “Wanderer above the Sea of Fog”, which is also known as “Wanderer Above the Mist”. The Wanderer above the Sea of Fog was painted by Caspar David Friedrich in 1818, an oil on canvas work that is quite symbolic of romanticism.

The Wanderer above the Sea of Fog depicts the painter himself standing on top of a high mountain with a great mass of fog before him. You can see peaks of other mountains above the surface of the thick fog, and a mountain range is visible in the background. Expansive sky above the mountains is much of the painting.

This painting is a powerful statement of loneliness and difficulties experienced by people who are intellectuals. The man in the painting is representative of the few people who are not the same as the majority of society – this thread is quite typical of the romantic period, which was a time when the industrial revolution was in full stride and many people attempted to get away from machinery, as well as the poverty and pain that machines brought to their world. People of this time wanted to return to the purity of nature and get away from societies evils.

The Persistence of Memory

Monday, April 14th, 2008

The Persistance of Memory by DaliSurrealists appreciated Dali for his ‘Paranoiac critical method’ of accessing the subconscious as greater artistic creativity. Dali’s most famous work is ‘The Persistence of Memory’ (1931), sometimes called Soft Watches or Melting Clocks. The work introduced the surrealistic image of soft, melting pocket watches.

The general interpretation of Dali’s ‘The Persistence of Memory’ is that soft watches debunk the assumption that time is rigid and deterministic and this is supported by other images in that work like the wide landscaping, the ants and the fly that devour the other watches.

Dali, as he explained inspired himself on camembert cheese to Saint the watches in the painting. He said that these watches were “tender, extravagant, solitary and paranoid“. Watches, just like memory, softened with the pass of time. Dali once said about the painting: “Just as I am surprised that a bank employee has never eaten a check, I am equally surprised that no other painter before me thought about painting a soft watch”.

This painting has historical significance in surrealism and is an icon within the genre. It explains the creativity and expresses the time and space between real life and the imaginary life very clearly. Dali’s painting ‘The Persistence of Memory’ illustrates clearly the style of surrealism which could not be conveyed in words. This is a painting which has brought out the actual essence of time and what makes it perfect is that it is something for which you can never find the right words.

Most Representative Painting of the Cubist Style – Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon - Pablo PicassoThe most representative of the Cubist paintings and the one painting that started it all was Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. This painting became pivotal in the history of modern art. This painting changed everything for Picasso.

Les Demoiselles de Avignon was Picasso’s earliest work, which broke dramatically from the figurative and poetic paintings from the first part of his life. The painting relates directly to the prostitution district of Paris. In this painting the features of the three women to the left were inspired by the wooden carvings on which Picasso worked during the summer of 1906.

The two women to the right were based on African and Oceanic masks. Their bodies are so razor-sharp that it looks as if they might cut you if you touched them. These women appear to be seductive and yet horrifying at the same time. It was a long time before this painting became acceptable to even the most progressive members of the artistic community. Picasso felt that his whole understanding of painting had transformed in doing this painting, which he called his “first exorcism picture.”

Most Representative Painting from Neoclassicism

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

Jacques-Louis David - Oath of HorattiThe Oath of Horatii is one of the best known examples of the Neoclassicism era. Painted by Jacques Louis David, it was considered to be the ideal of the new school of art. A style based on the ideas of a return to the classical. This painting was finished in 1785.

The painting portrays the Horatii brothers swearing their allegiance to the state while their father holds swords high for them to grasp.

The Oath of Horatii was commissioned from the Comte Dangiviller, supervisor of all architectural building under Louis the XVI. He wanted a painting based on Corneilles play, Horace, which at the time was performing in Paris. David began painting the Oath of Horatii in Paris, but felt that he needed the ambiance of Rome to finish this work. When the painting was first exhibited in Rome in 1885, it was considered to be a sensation, and was associated with the need to cry for the French Revolution, which was declared four years later.

The structured lines of the painting demonstrate how David stayed away from the delicate, feminine lines of Louis the XVI. Every line and color is minimalist and there are no unneeded brush strokes or anything that might denote femininity. The colors are well balanced, though kept to a minimum and even the clothing is made to denote patriotism.


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