From cave paintings to political graffiti: 11 paintings that changed the world
Usually an object of art is considered from the point of view of entertainment – it pleases the eye, can raise the mood or entertain a person. But art is also capable of making real changes in the world. Pablo Picasso once even declared: “No, painting is not created to decorate a home. She is an instrument of war for attack and victory over the enemy! ” And it looks like he was right. Some canvases completely changed people’s ideas about social problems, about politics, and sometimes about art itself.
1. “Lascaux Caves”
Rock paintings in the cave of Lascaux. 17,000 years ago
One of the oldest paintings in the world made a splash, but it happened 17,000 years after it was painted. In 1940, a group of young people arranged a guided tour of a cave in a French village. Inside it, they found one of the most unusual examples of prehistoric art in the world. Although this is not the oldest example of cave paintings, it is one of the earliest examples of exquisite painting, demonstrating that people have always sought art.
2. “Studies of the fetus in the womb”
“Fetal Studies in the Womb,” circa 1510, by Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci is considered a real genius due to his works, but today we will not talk about just one of them (more precisely, not about what can be seen in art galleries). “Research into the fetus in the womb” may have had a greater impact on the world than Mona Lisa or The Last Supper. Leonardo challenged moral and artistic generally accepted norms with his anatomical drawings, made on the basis of real autopsies. Leonardo’s discoveries and methods have changed the way artists and scientists have studied the human body.
“Menin”. 1656, Diego Velazquez.
This is not a standard court picture. In this portrait of Princess Margarita Teresa and her “menin” (maid of honor), the Spanish artist Diego Velazquez raised the complex issues of illusion and reality, as well as the uncertainty of the connection between the viewer and the characters. For example, the picture shows not only the 5-year-old infante Margarita with the maids of honor, but also her parents – King of Spain Philip IV and Marianne of Austria. Their reflection can be seen in the mirror on the back wall. Also on the canvas is the artist himself (to the left of the stage at the easel). The influence of Velazquez’s painting on the history of art was enormous. It was the above questions that created Cubism 250 years later, and Picasso was so fascinated by the “Menins” that he wrote 58 versions of this picture.
This picture of the French artist Jacques-Louis David can be considered the first truly political canvas. It depicts the consequences of the murder of revolutionary leader Jean Paul Marat, who was stabbed to death in his bathroom. David essentially decided to turn his dead friend into an icon of political propaganda. And he quite succeeded, because the picture began to make engravings, which became widespread among the public.
Olympia, 1863, Eduard Manet.
This example of a radical “nude” is often considered a rejection of patriarchal views in art. In fact, the painting by Eduard Manet is based on the work “Venus Urbinskaya” by the Renaissance artist Titian, who became famous thanks to his shocking sexuality. But there are significant differences in it. Firstly, Olympia, unlike Venus, looks directly into the eyes of the viewer, which many considered extremely provocative. And secondly, her hand closes access to the genitals, and does not lie on them in a gesture of “invitation.”
6. The Black Square
Black Square, 1915, Kazimir Malevich
Many find the hype around this picture stupid and absolutely not worth it. In some ways they are right, because it is really just a black square. But the work of Kazimir Malevich is considered the first picture, which does not depict anything at all. The artist wanted to completely abandon the idea that art should depict reality or the imagined. Malevich’s paintings and ideas continued to inspire countless artists in the twentieth century, and were also the basis upon which many abstract and conceptual movements of art were created. Of course, they did not change the world, but they managed to change art forever.
7. “Jars of Campbell Soup”
Campbell Soup Cans, 1962, Andy Warhol
In contrast to the previous picture, this work of Andy Warhol was made in honor of a very specific product. And one that you least expect to see in the picture. Andy Warhol decided to turn what Americans saw every day into a gallery-worthy work of art. At the same time, the artist also managed to cast doubt on many ideas related to art.