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Great Works of Art Worth Remembering
The Mona Lisa Leonardo da Vinci
The Mona Lisa is quite possibly the most well-known piece of painted artwork in the entire world. It was painted by the Leonardo Da Vinci, the famous Italian artist, between 1504 and 1519, and is a half body commission for a woman named Lisa Gherardini. Her husband, Francesco Del Giocondo, requested the work by Da Vinci just after the turn of the century. It is perhaps the most studied piece of artwork ever known as the subject’s facial expression has brought about a source of debate for centuries. Originally commissioned in Italy, it is now at home in the French Republic, and hangs on display in the Louvre in Paris.
Click here to learn to more about Leonardo da Vinci's Masterpiece.
Learn About The Mona Lisa.
Video About the Mona Lisa.
Learn about Leonardo da Vinci
Born on April 15, 1452, in Vinci, Italy, Leonardo da Vinci was a leader of the Italian Renaissance and was not only interested in art, but also the laws of science and nature. Possessor of a curious mind and keen intellect, da Vinci used his knowledge and curiosity to work as a painter, sculptor, architect, inventor, military engineer and draftsman. His ideas and body of work—which includes "Virgin of the Rocks," "The Last Supper" and "Mona Lisa"—have influenced countless artists and made da Vinci one of the most influential artists in history.
Who painted the Mona Lisa?
Where is the Mona Lisa?
The Mona Lisa's Home
Link to Virtual Field Trip of The Louvre.
The Louvre is the world’s largest museum and houses one of the most impressive art collections in history. The magnificent, baroque-style palace and museum — LeMusée du Louvre in French — sits along the banks of the Seine River in Paris and is one of Europe's biggest tourist attractions.
Starry Night Vincent van Gogh
Painted by Vincent van Gogh in June of 1889, The Starry Night is an oil painting on canvas and is considered van Gogh's greatest masterpiece. The Starry Night depicts the view from the east-facing window of a room in an asylum in southern France, where van Gogh stayed for several months near the end of his life, seeking refuge from his emotional suffering while continuing to make art. This painting remains one of the most recognized paintings in the history of Western culture. Press play below to learn more about Van Gogh's The Starry Night.
Learn About the The Starry Night
The painting portrays a nameless European village amidst a dark wilderness, complete with dampened lights. Some buildings manage to emit just enough light to be noticed, but others, including notably the church, are dark and unwelcoming. However, the real action is what is going on above the town, where the moon and stars light up the sky. Light moves across the sky in great sweeps and strokes, defeating the dark sky wherever it is encountered.
Historians and artists maintain that the painting stemmed from van Gogh’s direct observations as well as his imagination, memories, and emotions. The steeple of the church, for example, resembles those common in his native Holland, not in France. The whirling forms in the sky, on the other hand, match published astronomical observations of clouds of dust and gas known as nebulae. At once balanced and expressive, the composition is structured by his ordered placement of the cypress, steeple, and central nebulae, while his countless short brushstrokes and thickly applied paint set its surface in roiling motion. Such a combination of visual contrasts was generated by an artist who found beauty and interest in the night, which, for him, was “much more alive and richly colored than the day.”
About Vincent van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh was born on March 30, 1853 in the Netherlands. Van Gogh was a post-impressionist painter whose work, notable for its beauty, emotion and color, highly influenced 20th century art. He struggled with mental illness, and remained poor and virtually unknown throughout his life. Van Gogh died in France on July 29, 1890, at age 37, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Watch the video to learn more about Vincent van Gogh.
Where is Van Gogh's Starry Night today?
NYC's Museum of Modern Art
Home of Van Gogh's masterpiece, Starry Night, the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) is located in the heart of New York City and welcomes approximately 3 million visitors a year. The MOMA boasts a rich and varied collection of modern art and along with its most famous pieces, including van Gogh's Starry Night, the museum boasts many other famous pieces, such as Claude Monet’s Water Lilies, Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, and more recent works by Andy Warhol, Elizabeth Murray, Cindy Sherman, and many others.
Take a virtual tour of the world famous Museum of Modern Art in NYC by clicking here. Be sure to stop on the 5th floor, where you'll find Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night.
Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup Cans
Who was Andy Warhol?
Andy Warhol was the most successful and highly paid commercial illustrator in New York even before he began to make art destined for galleries. Nevertheless, his screen-printed images of Marilyn Monroe, soup cans, and sensational newspaper stories, quickly became synonymous with Pop art. He emerged from the poverty and obscurity of an Eastern European immigrant family in Pittsburgh, to become a charismatic magnet for bohemian New York, and to ultimately find a place in the circles of High Society. For many his ascent echoes one of Pop art's ambitions, to bring popular styles and subjects into the exclusive salons of high art. His elevation to the status of a popular icon represented a new kind of fame and celebrity for a fine artist.
About Warhol's Campbell Soup Paintings
Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans paintings are key works of the 1960's Pop Art movement, a time when many artists made work derived from popular culture. It consists of thirty-two canvases, each measuring 20 inches in height × 16 inches in width and each consisting of a painting of a Campbell's Soup can portrays all of the varieties the company offered at the time. The individual paintings were produced by a printmaking method—the semi-mechanized screen printing process and non-painterly style. Warhol’s soup cans raise the simply popular or everyday to the status of art. Campbell’s and its red and white label date from the late nineteenth century, and became more and more familiar in the twentieth, particularly with the increase in mass production and advertising after World War II. Warhol himself said, “Pop art is about liking things,” and claimed that he ate Campbell’s soup every day for 20 years. For him, it was the quintessential American product: he marveled that the soup always tasted the same, like Coca-Cola, whether consumed by prince or pauper.
Click here to learn more about Warhol's Campbell Soup Paintings.
Jackson Pollock's Lavender Mist: Number 1, 1950
Lavender Mist, which was originally called Number 1, 1950, was one of Jackson’s Polluck’s many masterpieces that showcased his “drip technique” and why he remains one of the leading figures in Abstract Expressionism. This was considered the epitome of an “action painting” and rather than working from an easel, Pollock would place his canvas on the ground and pace around it, applying paint by dripping it from hardened brushes, sticks, and basting syringes. Through his "drip" action technique, Pollock would create layers upon layers of paint, created in a chaotic assemblage of drips and splashes. The painting exemplifies gestural abstraction, in which paint was poured or applied with extreme physicality to reflect the artist's inner mind. The color is expressive, while space is created through alternative layers and drips of opaque paint, creating a textured canvas surface that is nearly dizzying.
Lavender Mist measures almost 10 feet long and is alive with colored scribble, spattered lines moving this way and that, now thickening, now trailing off to a slender skein. The eye is kept continually eager, not allowed to rest on any particular area. Pollock has put his hands into paint and placed them at the top right — an instinctive gesture eerily reminiscent of cave painters.
To learn more about this painting, click here.
Who was Jackson Pollock?
Paul Jackson Pollock, known professionally as Jackson Pollock, was an influential American painter and a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement. He was well known for his unique style of drip painting. During his lifetime, Pollock enjoyed considerable fame and notoriety; he was a major artist of his generation. Regarded as reclusive, he had a volatile personality, and struggled with alcoholism for most of his life. In 1945, he married the artist Lee Krasner, who became an important influence on his career and on his legacy.Pollock died at the age of 44 in an alcohol-related single-car accident when he was driving. In December 1956, several months after his death, Pollock was given a memorial retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. A larger, more comprehensive exhibition of his work was held there in 1967. In 1998 and 1999, his work was honored with large-scale retrospective exhibitions at MoMA and at The Tate in London.