It is beyond doubt that art can change the world. Some bring about minor changes and some bring major changes in the way art is produced and perceived. This article talks about some of such paintings that did bring a change in the world of art, not just through its subject, but also through the techniques of storytelling and composition.
1. “Girl with a Pearl Earring” by Johannes Vermeer
Known to be one of the prominent artists of the Dutch Golden Age, Johannes Vermeer painted this intriguing painting in 1665. The young girl in the painting grabs the attention of the viewer with her electrifying gaze. This seemingly innocent painting of a young girl wearing a robe and blue and gold turban who seems like turning toward the viewer is actually considered to be one of the greatest mysteries of art. Any person looking at the painting gets a feeling that the painting is looking back at them and is referred to as 'The Mona Lisa of the North'. The girl is painted on a dark flat background, which accentuates her three-dimensionality. The Girl with a Pearl Earring is a permanent exhibit at the Mauritshuis Museum, Hage.
2. “The Scream" by Edvard Munch
Norwegian Expressionist Edvard Munch painted the Scream in 1893 and is considered to be one of the icons of modern art. Other than Mona Lisa, there has been no other painting that is analyzed, interpreted reproduced, and referenced as much as the scream. The subject of the painting is sexually ambiguous and visually amorphous. The painting is said to have stemmed from the deepest emotions and thoughts of Edvard Munch. Scream is a result of anxiety and anguish felt by the painter. The subject of the painting is not actually screaming but is blocking its ears from the scream of nature. This picture thoroughly articulates the idea of expressionism.
3. “Adele Bloch-Bauer I” by Gustav Klimt
Painted in 1907 by Gustav Klim, the painting features Adele Bloch-Bauer, a rich girl who was married to Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer, a wealthy industrialist. Gustav Klim painted Adele on the request of Ferdinand. Popularly known as Woman in Gold, this painting is covered with gold and cover leaves, while the face and hands of the subject are painted on oil, which takes up only 12% of the painting. Adele is seen dressed in a heavy ornamental gown in the painting and Gustav has added a number of different shapes to add to the ornamental richness of the painting. The painting is a blend of reality and fantasy.
4. “The Arnolfini Portrait” by Jan van Eyck
A painting which poses a lot of questions, Jan van Eyck painted The Arnolfini Portrait in 1434. The painting shows a man and a woman in their living room and every element in the room echoes the status or wealth of the couple. The mirror in the painting shows two strangers coming in and the two subjects are seen facing them. The question the painting poses is what is the actual scene, is it a marriage ceremony or are they welcoming the people coming in?. The painting also shows off the different contrasting techniques used by Jan van Eyck.
5. "Mona Lisa" by Leonardo Da Vinci
This is one of the greatest paintings made in the history of art. What makes Mona Lisa so famous is not just her intriguing gaze and mysterious smile. The pose assumed by Mona Lisa in the painting was not common in the 16th century, and this painting brought a revolution in portrait painting. When most of the portraits were full length, Da Vinci was the first to crop it and it was also the first painting to have used an imaginary landscape.
6. “Madame X" by John Singer Sargent
Madame X is the painting of Virginie Amélie Avegno a socialite and high society woman who lived in Paris. John Singer Sargent who was ardent on meeting this woman and paint her and after two years of relentless persuasion he was able to paint her and this painting caused quite an uproar in Paris. The society at the time could not perceive high society woman in such a revealing dress as these women always dressed modestly. Many did not like the color of her skin and compared it to a corpse. Above all John Singer had painted Madame X with one strap of her dress falling off from her shoulder. Having caused a controversy, he had hidden the painting for a long time.
7. “Judith Beheading Holofernes" by Artemisia Gentileschi
This version of Judith Beheading Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi is the violent and bloodiest painting. Gentileschi depicts the two women as strong who joined forces to commit this deed. Judith is portrayed as capable of beheading Holofernes and her physical strength is clearly captured in the painting. The painting shows how Judith is severing the head of Holofernes and the maiden helps Judith of lay him down as he struggles.
8. “Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe” by Édouard Manet
A controversial painting because of the subject of the painting and also because of the painting techniques. A painting of luncheon among two men and a woman who doesn't seem to interact with each other and the woman is painted nude. By placing the nude woman in the painting, Manet has attempted to reconceptualize the idea that nude women were always associated with mythology or allegory. Many critics believe that Manet refused a tell a story through this painting of his.
These are some of the paintings that changed the world and the perception of art for years and years to come.
(Image Source: Wikipedia)