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What makes a great work of art?
Hi everyone. Hope you're all good. I've recently been updating my list of the Greatest works of art - see:
I know that defining what is great is difficult and that everyone has their own opinion on the matter, which is why I'm posting here. What are your thoughts on my list in it's present form and what works of art do you think should have a place in the list? I'm up for growing this list so that it can become almost a virtual gallery of masterpieces (pretentious though that term can sometimes seem).
So any opinions that you have or any editions that you think I should add to my list of artworks, please let me know.
1. First look at every single artwork on www.zeno.org. Then look at everything on www.artchive.com. Then look up every 4-5 star thread on this site. Then check out some of the most popular works on www.deviantart.com under various categories.
2. To make your list really educational, have some text with each piece explaining why it's on your list. Try reading Gombrich's History of Art for input. Also, the artchive has some writings on their artists.
3. As long as you're making arbitrary value judgements, you may as well set an arbitrary number. Otherwise it'll be endless.
So far it looks decent, but incomplete.
Thanks for the tips. I'll take all of them on board.
I know that this is all a matter of opinion. The term itself 'Greatest works of art' is a very general one, but hopefully I can grow this compilation and but enough descriptions in there for the site to be a good resource. Especially to people that are new to art and wan't to just get a general feel for what's out there.
You should have a section on the biggest art ever produced. Big art is good art.
At least Icarus tried!
My Process: Dead Rider Graphic Novel (Dark Horse Comics) plus oil paintings, pencils and other goodies:
My "Smilechild" Music. Plus a medley of Commercial Music Cues and a Folksy Jingle!:
Or even the smallest...
Seriously though, the idea is to basically fill the site with as many seminal works of art as I can put together. Just in the hope that I can eventually have a resource that has some merit to people searching the net for art...
Reknowned art does not make it great, and many unknown works are probably much much better from a lot of stand points. In my opinion the focus of this is far too generic. What's the point to collect a bunch of mostly western art history book examples of art? A much MUCH more interesting endeavor would be to search the internet and discover new art that you think out does those old masters. I mean seriously, the Birth of Venus (as a random example) is well known, but how many of us would give that painting more than a minute of time if it was produced now? How many of us would crit the hell out of it? Historicly important, hell yeah, but really "great" by objective standards, I doubt it.
au contrair mon frair. That painting rocks.
But look, you're probably better off picking one artwork at a time and discussing why you like it so much, what makes it important, influential, different, innovative, dramatic, expressive, etc.
It'll help you grow more as well. Just making a list won't impress so many folks - they won't just take your word for it that these are the greatest of all time. Unless you devote your entire life to this, study art history in depth, get a masters and write a bunch of books, you'll never get the status and respect to get most people to even look at your list =(
Not that I'm discouraging you.
Cheers for your comments guys. I do appreciate your thoughts.
To be honest, I know I'm only an ameture, but I hope that my collection will help show people that there is a lot of good art out there.
Especially once the site fills out a bit more!
I think taking these "great" images and giving them a critical eye out of their historical context might be much more interesting. Or finding a piece of fairly unknown art and making a case for it being "great" might also make for an interesting discussion.
First of all, I'm not Gombrich, and I don't remember that much of what he wrote about this work. So, to really know what the expert's think, look up what Gombrich wrote specifically on Botticelli.
From my layman's perspective...
There was a period in the Italian Rennaisance between Brunalleschi's invention of linear perspective (around 1410) and Da Vinci's use of chiaroscuro (around 1480), when all the artists made these amazing, surreal images. There was a devotion to perspective and anatomy devoid of natural light and shadow that created a sense of.... stillness and disquiet, peace and tension, perfection and imperfection. I'm talking about artists like Piero della Francesca, and Paulo Ucello. The idea was to create something unnatural - a perfect world of God that we can't yet enter, but want to.
Botticelli was more of a transitional artist. Some of his works are more natural, such as his nativity scene. I mean, someone who didn't know better could confuse that with Raphael. Then there are his large scenes, the Primavera, and the Birth of Venus.
Here, he's kinda throwing some of the exacting, precise rules of perspective out the window, in the interest of being playful and lighthearted - it's been suggested by Gombrich that these were used as backgrounds for little comedic plays, or some such. The main things to realize about these works:
1. it's on purpose. He's forgoing a natural perspective for something based more on symmetry - the realm of perfection and God. Same goes for the stiff poses of the figures, much like the peaceful stillness of Byzantine figures.
2. The level of detail is just as playful as the composition and subject matter, and is incredibly detailed. Primavera has over 100 species of plants faithfully painted in detail.
3. No one really knows who all the figures are, or what the hell they're doing. Gombrich looked through plays and such written at the time and came up with only halfway plausible possibilities. Any artwork with a certain mystery to it is bound to create interest. Anyone who wants a thesis for their art history masters... here it is.
4. nothing like it has happened before or since in the history of art.
5. EDIT: just to quote Loomis, whether people like your art is 10% how you draw/paint, and 90% what you paint. This work has Venus, goddess of beauty popping out of a giant scallop shell, all flowing and serene. I mean that's just crazy awesome.
Anyone who knows more than me about this, please feel free to correct, thanks.
Last edited by TASmith; October 8th, 2008 at 01:30 PM.