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Some of My Favorite Works of Art, Part I

  • Nov 25, 2009
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I've always been enamored of many different forms of art, though there is no particular style that I'm most fond of. Here, I have included a brief list of my favorite works from artists in different eras as well as styles. You may notice recurring themes throughout these pictures, particularly that of mythologically-inspired images and the depiction of female nudes goddesses seen mainly in the Renaissance and Pre-Raphaelite pieces. In addition to Pre-Raphaelite, Renaissance, cubist, surrealist, and expressionist pieces, I've included works from the golden age of children's book illustrations. I hope you enjoy this rather eclectic collection...
Please note that these works are in no particular order and that I have added brief explanations as to why they are on the list.
The Scream
Easily my favorite painting ever!!! Edvard Munch's The Scream has an almost uncanny ability to resonate with everyone (unless they dislike Expressionism) on a very deep and personal level. There's something special about the painting that allows people to connect with the artist's intense feelings of isolation and anguish. Never has anyone been able to preoject such vulnerability and sadness about not being able to blend in with one's environment or social community.
The Persistence of Memory

Salvador Dali's signature painting!!! I can't precisely say what it is that I find so appealing about this image, but there is something vaguely familiar about the desolate landscape and the melted clocks, as though it were all part of some long forgotten fever dream that we all had as children. There's something hypnotic and unnerving about the clocks and the ants that gives the impression that the painting is reminding us that time is a man-made creation and that it will run out.

My favorite artistic depiction of Lilith!!! John Collier's vision of Lilith is not only beautifully erotic and seductive, but also somewhat haunting. There's something about the painting that is both melancholy and sensual that makes it irresistible. Certainly, a stand out piece of Pre-Raphaelite artwork.
One of my favorite Arthur Rackham illustrations. Rackham had a way of drawing characters from Norse mythology that was almost definitive. I've never come across any other artists who understood the thematic tones of the stories from that region so well. This picture of Freya is wonderful!
Soon she was lost to sight in the Danube.
The illustrations that Arthur Rackham produced for Undine are so gorgeous and yet so sad at the same time. This image of Undine being consumed by the waves is certainly a stylistic change for the illustrator, who normally works with very curvy lines rather than angular ones, and this picture remains my favorite work of his (other than Freya).
The Son of Man
The Son of Man is one of those iconic surrealist images that you can never forget. I'm not sure what the meaning of this painting is, but I love how simplistic and yet evocative it can be.
Drawing Hands
Escher was a master at drawing paradoxical, catch-22 images and this is one of his best. As far as visual riddles and conundrums go, you'd be hard-pressed to find better.
Escher's signature drawing. Certainly a classic by most standards, Relativity has inspired everything from three-dimensional film sets to virtual environments in video games. I still hold the hope that someday this drawing will be replicated as life-sized 3D model, though I suspect to do it properly it would need to be in an anti-gravity environment. I can see it now: a future art exhibit called "Escher in Space". ; )
The Garden of Earthly Delights
Bosch was a religious fanatic and yet his imagery, so melodramatic and over the top, remains iconic to today's art community, in part because of the early traces of surrealism that he embraced but also because of his unique formats.
The Eye
Well, it's just a really cool and unforgettable image, isn't that enough?
Sistine Chapel Ceiling
Why do you think this is on here? DUH!!!
Michelangelo's masterpiece is virtually unrivaled in both its scope of detail and in its size. I don't know of anyone who isn't in awe of this and would love to see it in person. The way Michelangelo connected the various biblically-inspired images together using architecture within the architecture still inspires people in that field today.
The Abbey in the Oakwood
Caspar David Friedrich was know for his depictions of nature and crumbling Gothic structures. This is one of his best images and it has been a frequent inspiraton for production designers and filmmakers in recent years.
The Lady of Shalott
Whenever I see this gorgeous painting by J.W. Waterhouse, I immediately recall the poem by Lord Tennyson... The Lady of Shalott.
The Vitruvian Man
For some reason, of all Leonardo Da Vinci's works, I've always preferred his blue prints and technical sketches over his artistic renderings. There's something more beautiful in seeing The Vitruvian Man over say, The Mona Lisa, because this gives more insight into Da Vinci as a man.
La Maja Desnuda
Whether nude or clothed, The Maja remains one of the most beautiful paintings of the female form ever. It's remarkable the way that Goya manages to duplicate his own image with such consistency while remaining focused on both the technical and artistic aspects.
Venus of Urbino
Simultaneously erotic and classy. Timeless.
Inspired by the classic painting above, this image stands as a work of genius in its own right.
The Starry Night
Van Gogh's most iconic painting and quite likely one of the most serene images in artwork in the past century. I love the way he used this "swirl" effect that is similar to his earlier paintings done with pointillism.
The Great Red Dragon
William Blake was an unusual man, very much an eccentric, who created some truly bizarre works of art that reflected his conflicting ideas about religion. This particular work, which was part of an ongoing series of paintings that he did, always reminds me of the story of Hades' abduction of Persephone in Greek myths. I'm not sure why.
The Girl with the Pearl Earring
It may seem strange, but my favorite thing about this painting and many of Vermeer's paintings is not the subject matter, in this case the girl, but rather the overall atmosphere created by the lighting and texture. It gives this image an almost hyper-realism that's very attractive.
The Birth of Venus
I first became obsessed with Greek and Roman mythology when I was about nine and to this day this is one of my favorite depictions of Venus (to the Romans or Aphrodite to the Greeks).
Portrait of Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler
I'm not a big fan of Picasso's more abstract works (most of it I find to be so disjointed that I can't make any emotional connection with it), however, his cubist works are extraordinary and this portrait is stunning.
At this the whole pack rose up into the air...
Another classic Arthur Rackham image. This one came from an illustrated edition of Alice in Wonderland that he did and is in my opinion one of the all-time great depictions of Alice. Perhaps, the only artist other than John Tenniel to do justice to Lewis Carroll's tale.
The Nightmare
One of the most haunting, evocative, and classic Gothic images ever.
A Mermaid

J.W. Waterhouse knew how to create some of the most beautiful paintings of women ever and his take on the figures of myth and fairy tales are so stunningly gorgeous! Whenever I think of mermaids, this is the image that comes to mind.
Pygmalion and Galatea
Okay, I'll admit it, this one is on here because it's just so sexy. A wonderfully rendered image with all the sensuality of the original Greek myth.
Ulysses and the Sirens
Horrific and erotic. This image was inspired by the classic myth in which Ulysses attempts to sail home after years of warfare and is repeatedly prevented from doing so. At one point in the tale, Ulysses' ship must venture near a dreaded island where beautiful women sing and lure sailors to their deaths upon the rocky shores. I'm not sure why, but in this painting, the sirens are actually attacking the ship. Still, an amazing work.
Dark, disturbing, and somehow titillating, this piece from Edvard Munch is instantly reminiscent of Lucy's attack on her husband Arthur in the novel Dracula. Not my favorite Munch painting, but one of his most memorable.
Man and Woman Contemplating the Moon
Another brilliant work by Caspar David Friedrich. Somehow, this painting is haunting, majestic, nostalgic, and full of tragedy all at once. It's a reminder of all the good things that no longer are and all the good things that could have been but aren't.
Sun and Life
Sadly, there are very few female artists that have really gotten the recognition that they deserve. I've included this wonderful painting on my list, not only as a tribute top Kahlo's talent and brilliant imagination, but also as a way to represent the many female artists who have been ignored by scholars and failed to receive the exposure that they deserve.
The Tree of Forgiveness
This is one of the most incredible images from the Pre-Raphaelite period. Edward Burne-Jones was an amazingly talented artist, who could create images of beatific people with porcelain skin and melancholy eyes. His color scheme was also unique.
View of Toledo
One of the most beautiful images of the night sky ever.
Blind Pew
Growing up, this Wyeth image used to terrify me for some reason. Now I find it to be incredibly sympathetic to the character, who in the book is rather vile.
Venus Verticordia
Rossetti's Venus Verticordia remains one of the most beautiful paintings of the female face ever. His model was the beautiful Elizabeth Siddal, whom he used as inspiration for many of his paintings and poems.
Beata Beatrix
Rossetti's classic image was inspired in part by Dante Alighieri's poem La Vita Nuova, but also by the untimely death of Elizabeth Siddal ten years before. Rossetti himself died before the painting could be completed.

What did you think of this list?

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January 12, 2010
As an artist, I love being engaged by those who take the time to share their feelings and thoughts about works of art, especially the master works that I know well. Now, If only I could figure out how to see your other list.
January 02, 2010
You and Queenbflix have got me intrigued. Love both of your choices and I'll try to work on putting together a grouping of my favourites as well.
January 02, 2010
Thanks. I plan on doing at least three more lists like this since my artistic interests vary quite a bit.
I'll be adding a load of new paintings over the next couple weeks, so if there are any specific ones that you want me to set up let me know. So far, Lunch has had great contributions in the areas of books, music, and film, but the art community needs a littled boost. That's why I started doing these to begin with.
December 14, 2009
This still isn't working right for me. I can't get them to enlarge or take me anywhere else to enlarge them. O well. Some of my favorites here too. Always like a good Botticelli, Kahlo was married to muralist Diego Rivera who's one of my favorites. I suppose everyone loves Van Gogh although I'm probably one of the few who would pick "Starry Night" as their favorite. And I absoluely love Ver Meer . Many of the others were unfamiliar to me, such as 23, 24, 25, 26, and 27. I wish I could get a better look at them. I've told you how blind I am. =)
December 14, 2009
Hmmm... I'd ask the Lunch crew why it's not working. It might be your computer or your internet browser.
December 14, 2009
Could be. This is an ancient computer. But I probably wouldn't understand their instructions if they told me how I could fix it. That's the way things have gone in the past.
December 14, 2009
Want me to serve as a translator? ; )
December 14, 2009
You're assuming that I've understood what you've said. I have no manual for this thing so my technical terms for things are like; the key on the upper left with the 2 squiggle marks underneath the that says Esc
December 14, 2009
Wait, were you clicking on the actual picture or the title of the picture? You have to click on the title in the blue.
December 15, 2009
Any luck?
December 12, 2009
I like your list! I'm always a sucker for a good painting. My wife got me into the works of Frida Kahlo. You should take a look. Many are very surreal!
December 14, 2009
Oh yeah. I'm somewhat new to Kahlo's work, but from what I've seen she was extremely talented.
January 26, 2010
I noted that you now have two of her works in one of your more recent lists. She really has some wild ones and most of them have her face painted in.
January 26, 2010
Yeah, she's one of my favorite female artists. I absolutely love the one that I put at #1 in my fourth artwork list.
January 26, 2010
I was lucky to see an exhibition of about 10 of her works at a local museum a couple of years back. They also had several works by Botero a Colombian artist who paints every one rotund but in a beautiful way.
December 12, 2009
Awesome List Man! This list brought back some great memories of traveling through Europe. I remember seeing Olympia at the Musee D'Orsay in Paris.
November 30, 2009
Love this! It's like a virtual art museum on Lunch :) Can't wait to read what you have to say about these!
December 07, 2009
Well, I've started to add my explanations, but it'll be time-consuming I'm afraid. I may just have to write a review for some of these too.
December 07, 2009
You're half way there! Still an amazing list :)
December 11, 2009
Whew, finally added all the explanations. Now, I realize that I forgot a number of pieces so off I go to create more data points. : )
November 27, 2009
Interesting List, these pieces are definitely some of the greatest Masterpieces ever created, there is not much Art yet on Lunch so this is welcome. My latest Art "discovery" is the Japanese Pop artist Takashi Murakami, as some one said in a youtube video I watched his Art gives your eye a good time.
November 27, 2009
Is he the Japanese man who lives in New York and is known for painting cats?
November 28, 2009
No he lives in Japan I think and he uses a lot of the images from Japanese popular culture like Manga and Anime. Here is his page http://www.takashimurakami.com/ And just google him and choose images you wil see a lot of his works.
November 27, 2009
I really like this list, a different side of you yet so similar to your tastes in other topics! Thank you for sharing. The Persistence of Memory is my Dali favorite.
November 27, 2009
Well, in some ways yes and some ways no. I've always been fascinated with arts of all kinds, so this list was sort of inevitable. I plan on doing a few more that will focus on other mediums in art. I think sculptures, statues, and reliefs may be next. After that, perhaps classical music and opera.
November 29, 2009
Looking forward to those! I should make some too... when I get around to it :)
December 07, 2009
Yes, they can eat up your spare time... when you actually have spare time that is. ; )
November 26, 2009
Great list! Fore years, I didn't know the image on the box cover of the film Gothic was inspired by that paining The Nightmare. Pretty creepy montage in the film too. You should check it out bro. Awesome job!
November 27, 2009
Which "Gothic" are you referring to?
December 07, 2009
Loved that movie.
December 07, 2009
It's easily one of my favorites too. Really good stuff.
November 26, 2009
Nice, my brother! Your taste in art reflectsyour taste in film! I guess mine would have the Sistine chapel on top because Michaelangelo was blinded but was still able to finish it. The Son of Man is also a favorite, no Mona Lisa? That vampire pic is pretty awesome.
November 26, 2009
So, if this is also a reflection of my taste in films, then what does it say about my taste in art?
I never cared much for the Mona Lisa. Somehow, the painting seemed to be an expression of boredom to me. She's just sitting there looking smug, you know?
November 26, 2009
It says your tastes are awesome!! I'll catch everyone later, I have to get ready and go back...
November 26, 2009
Mona Lisa smug....hmm. You're right.
November 28, 2009
That's what I've heard as well. Besides, when it comes to Da Vinci, I find myself favoring his studies and blue prints and such, and not so much the paintings. Not sure why.
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