Art is decidedly subjective, what might appeal to you may not have the same effect on someone else. For instance, personally, I favor artworks made during impressionism and post impressionism era. There are some who only like realistic art from renaissance period in contrast to a section of art enthusiasts who are fond of modern and contemporary art. Consequently, jotting down a set of ‘Best Artworks’, ‘Greatest Masterpieces’ or ‘Most Famous Paintings’ as such is near impossible. However we have list out 10 masterpieces which are considered most innovative and remarkably intriguing by majority of the art lovers, each made by a different master artist.
Starry Night (1889- Post Impressionism), the masterpiece is believed to be a view from Vincent van Gogh’s room in an asylum at Saint-Remy. The upper half of the painting shows a vibrant sky bursting with energy, the turbulent swirls are in sharp contrast with the calm and sleepy village in the lower half of the painting. Based on Vincent’s religiously beliefs, art historians interpret that the cypress tree in the foreground symbolizes the unification of the world with the cosmos.
Impression- Sunrise (1874- Impressionism), by Claude Monet was displayed in the first art exhibition held by then struggling artists- Manet, Renoir, Degas and Monet. Rebuffed by the art critics, they used the title of this painting to phrase the exhibition as “The Exhibition of the Impressionists” hence accidentally defining the new art movement. His technique of loose and short brushstrokes captured the essence of the Sunrise. The uniquely unfinished look of this artwork is what paved the way for the new art movement- Impressionism.
The Kiss (1907- Symbolism) Gustav Klimt’s signature style of clubbing decorative patterns with semi- realistic figures has been best achieved in his celebrated artwork-‘The Kiss’. The painting shows an entwined couple symbolizing love. The masculine geometric shapes on the man’s gown gradually merge in to the lady’s floral pattern symbolizing the couple’s passionate union as one. Further adding to this blissful union is the surreal dreamlike setting of shimmering gold plated background.
Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (The Young Ladies of Avignon) (1907- Cubism) by Pablo Picasso is considered to be the prototype that shaped Cubism and Modern Art. The masterpiece projects the creative maturity achieved by Picasso over the years, a style that fermented over time through his various experiments and techniques. The painting portrays five female prostitutes from a brothel in Barcelona, with the simplistic and two-dimensional figures Picasso breaks the conventional rules of perspective and realism.
The Persistence of Memory (1931- Surrealism) by Salvador Dalí, is widely believed to be the masterpiece that best defines the art movement ‘Surrealism’. The painting shows pocket watches melting against a barren backdrop. Composition is dreamlike and the execution is realistic, typical characteristics of a surrealistic painting, as stated by Dali himself “hand painted dream photographs”. The subject of the artwork is insignificance of time, the ants on the left suggest decaying and the distorted central form is often referred as a Self-portrait.
Mona Lisa (1517- Renaissance) is undoubtedly the most popular portraits in the art world, the greatest creation of renaissance period and the finest masterpiece of Leonardo da Vinci. This accomplished portrait is most known for its captivating and mysterious half-smile, it’s been an ultimate source of inspiration for visual and literary arts. Art expert’s latest belief has been that for the hopping smile, the genius artist, applied optical illusion called sfumato, generated by clever shading around the cheek bones and mouth.
Birth of Venus (1480- Renaissance) by Sandro Botticelli, is one of the best representation of the origin of the ‘Goddess of love’, a common mythological subject of the Renaissance Period. The painting shows Venus, who has just risen from the sea on a shell, she is gently being blown towards the shore by the God of Wind. On the right, Hora the Goddess of Spring reaches out to cover her with a cloak. Her elegant posture and melancholic gaze makes Botticelli’s Venus look like a mystifying beauty.
The Girl with a Pearl Earring (1665- Baroque), often referred as ‘The Dutch Mona Lisa’ is one of the most notable painting made by Johannes Vermeer. The expressions and pose of the subject makes it incredibly interactive. The startled, wide-eyed subject looks back at the viewer with an exceedingly engaging half smile much like Leonard’s Mona Lisa, it seems that the viewer has managed to catch her attention causing her to pause and gaze back over her shoulder.
Dance at le Moulin de la Galette (1876- Impressionism) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir- The artwork shows, couples dancing in the open-air dance hall and a café on a Sunday afternoon. The joyful ambiance fashioned by Renoir reflects the typical life style of the Parisians. The figures have soft contours, mildly blending with each other, adding a dreamy feel to the painting. The entire canvas is covered with spots of light and shadow, suggesting sunlight filtering through the trees, adding a gleaming summery experience to the scenario.
The Fighting Temeraire (1838- Romanticism), a seascape made by J. W. Turner, is known for its dramatic play of sunlight and its spectacular theme. The 998-gun ship, played an important role in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, in the seascape it is being towed away by a steamer to be broken up for scrap. The theme is a salute to the passing of the majestic ship, decolorized and faded it seems a thing of the past. For the sunset, Turner used the technique of glazing over impasto, captures the spirit of the moment in the most magnificent manner.