The era of modern art began in the mid-1800s, when the advent of photography seemed to make painting obsolete. The mojo was: if you can take a picture of something you’ve seen, why waste time painting it? Artists back then gave art a different image to make it even more impressive. Indeed, art became a reflection of what those great artists used to say; it is in the art that the artist himself is reflected. Here are the 5 most iconic works of modern art…
Andy Warhol’s “Marilyn Monroe Diptych”
The legendary American actress Marilyn Monroe died in August 1962. In the weeks that followed, Andy Warhol, acclaimed as the Pope of Pop Art, produced the Marilyn Monroe Diptych masterpiece containing some fifty images of the actress. All the images are based on the same publicity photograph from the 1953 film Niagara. The 25 images on the left side of the work are brightly coloured, while the 25 on the right are black and white with a fading effect.
Impressionism was one of the most influential movements in modern art and artists focused on capturing the momentary effect of a scene rather than accurately depicting it. For example, Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies” or Nymphéas series has been described as “The Sistine Chapel of Impressionism”. It consists of about 250 oil paintings that were created by Monet during the last 30 years of his life.
Picasso’s “Les demoiselles d’Avignon” and Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night”
Originally titled Le Bordel d’Avignon (The Brothel of Avignon), this groundbreaking masterpiece is considered one of the most influential paintings of the 20th century as it played a key role in the advent of Cubism and modern art. In this painting, the mighty Picasso used different styles to depict each character, with the head of the women pulling back the curtain in the upper right being the most strictly Cubist element. The painting was controversial not only for its radical style, but also for its theme.
When it comes to The Starry Night, the paiting shows Van Gogh’s interest in astronomy and a study by the Griffith Park Observatory showed that Vincent depicted the Moon, Venus and several stars in the exact position they occupied on that clear night. The painting has been extensively analysed with various art historians finding different symbolic elements in it.
Girl with a Kitten by Lucian Freud (1947)
Born in Berlin, Germany, and grandson of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, Lucian Freud spent most of his life in London, England, where he joined the School of London where he got to know a group of figurative artists that included Francis Bacon, RB Kitaj, Frank Auerbach and Leon Kossoff. Freud’s style of painting is often considered German Expressionism or Surrealism. In the painting “Girl with a Kitten”, the subject is one of Lucian Freud’s wives, the artist Kitty Garman. The composition bears a resemblance to early Dutch paintings of the fifteenth century. Surprisingly, Lucian Freud may have fathered as many as 40 children, but only 14 of these descendants have been identified.