We might be completely immersed in art day in and day out, but it takes some truly special pieces to transcend time and culture to mark their place in art history. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Putting brush to canvas is the oldest technique to create art and it has been around since our ancient ancestors first figured out that they could use charcoal to create art on cave walls. To this day, painting is a popular medium amongst artists and we get to see countless new paintings almost every day. But, only the best of them succeeds in transcending barriers of time and culture to make their mark and be revered by art connoisseurs and lovers alike. And it is only these precious few that manage to become truly remarkable household names. And although the definitions of ‘famous’ and ‘greatest’ can be subjective to everyone, the popularity that some pieces enjoy is indisputable.
Most of the world-famous paintings are oil on canvas pieces that have managed to stand the test of time and leave lasting, permanent impressions on those who see them. And these art pieces are always under a constant threat of theft, damage, and aging, which is why museums have the responsibility of restoring them to their original conditions and protecting them so that future generations could also learn the same lessons that we’ve been learning through these paintings from the moment these came into existence. When listing down the most famous paintings, the Mona Lisa will obviously be mentioned; Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece is on display at the Musee du Louvre in Paris. But, there are also many others that deserve to be on this list. Let’s dive in and take a look at some of the most fabulous, and most famous, influential paintings of all time.
1. THE BIRTH OF VENUS BY SANDRO BOTTICELLI
The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli
Sandro Botticelli’s masterpiece is perhaps the oldest painting that has managed to garner so much fame and acclaim and gives strong competition to “The Kiss” for being the most sensuous. Botticelli’s “Venus” has two significant differences from most of his contemporaries; he painted on canvas instead of wood and his decision to depict nudity at a time when it was extremely rare was quite daring. In the painting, the Goddess of Love emerges from a huge scallop shell, making for quite an unforgettable figure. Classic Greek culture mingles with Early Renaissance style in this sensuous painting to leave a lasting impression on the viewer. Venus can be seen arriving on land on the island of Cyprus, as she forms from the sea spray and is blown there by the winds. Standing on a giant scallop shell, pure and perfect as a pearl, she is met by a young woman holding out a cloak covered in flowers. The painting celebrates Venus as a symbol of love and beauty and is truly a sight to look at.
2. GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING BY JOHANNES VERMEER
Girl With a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer
Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” has been often compared with the Mona Lisa, despite it being a tronie and not a portrait. The painting is an extremely captivating piece of art and depicts an imaginary figure of a girl in an exotic dress, wearing an oriental turban and a large pearl earring in her ear. A master of light, Vermeer’s talent shines through prominently in the softness of the girl’s face and the glimmer of light on her moist lips as well as the shining pearl. The simplicity of the oil-on-canvas masterpiece is what makes it brilliant and a joy to look at. A historical novel that fictionalized the circumstances of the painting’s creation was written by Tracy Chevalier which also inspired a 2003 film with Scarlett Johansson playing Vermeer’s assistant with the pearl earring in her ear.
3. THE SCREAM BY EDVARD MUNCH
The Scream by Edward Munch
The first thing that should be mentioned here, is that “The Scream” is not a single work of art. Two versions of the painting were created by Edvard Munch: two in paint and two in pastels along with a lithograph that gave birth to several prints. The agonized face that is visible in the painting has managed to become one of the most iconic art images and is considered to symbolize the anxiety of the human condition. The painting has had a formative impact on the Expressionist movement. Interestingly, it is not the figure that is screaming, rather the figure is trying to block out a piercing shriek being emitted by nature and Munch had painted it inspired by an actual experience he had while strolling in Oslo. Surprisingly, the painting has been a target of quite a few art thefts but was eventually restored each time.
4. GUERNICA BY PABLO PICASSO
Picture of Dorian Gray – Ivan Albright
Guernica is Probably the most recent painting on this list, and has the distinctive Picasso style. One of his most esteemed and exalted artworks, Guernica narrates the despondent story of the bombing of Guernica, the ancient Basque capital by Hitler’s air force at the height of his power. Picasso set down the greatest human statement of the 20th-century through his painting and its unflinching examination of the horrors of war is what earned it an essential place in 20th-century culture and history. A series of black, white, and grey shapes and figures can be seen in the painting and highlight the destruction that Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy collectively wrought upon the town. The painting was originally commissioned by the Spanish government to depict the suffering and horrors of war and ultimately function as a symbol of peace.