There’s a cliche that goes, “a picture speaks a thousand words.” But, how about the worth of paintings? Are they more than a thousand words? To truly know the value of a painting, one must learn to analyze and critique the artwork. Learning art history is a fun way to spend your time if you’re feeling bored and tired of binge watching TV series and movies. Thus, it’s educational and gives you a whole new perception not only at looking at the greatest artworks ever made, but also your outlook towards life. This article is all about the iconic paintings we all know and love today. The twist? We explain each great artworks for 30 seconds or less in order for you to understand the meaning and appreciate some of history’s iconic paintings. Let’s get started.
At first glance, artworks are nothing but aesthetically-pleasing images. But, if you take time to look at those images, it may be possible to know the meaning and story behind them. Art is an education that takes years to master. Many art enthusiasts, curators, and artists take their time in order to analyze and interpret different artworks in order to truly unveil its secret meaning. For many, understanding the concept behind the art is the key to appreciating the artwork itself. This article provides a fresh perspective on some of the world’s iconic paintings without taking too much of your time. In fact, you only need 30 seconds (or less) each to understand the familiar paintings we’ve seen since elementary.
The World’s Most Iconic Paintings Explained in Not More Than 30 Seconds
Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci:
The painting that everyone knows just by hearing the name. Considered as one of Da Vinci’s greatest masterpieces, this painting is the High Renaissance’s peak of aestheticism that defined the mastery technique of sfumato, subtle tonal gradation, and incorporated an impeccable method of blending. This painting is shrouded with mystery as to who the person depicted in the painting is and why it was created. According to critics and historians, the woman behind that painting was a Florentine woman named Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo.
Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh:
A painting that has a sad story behind it and was considered as a failure by the creator himself, Starry Night is one of the world’s emotionally captivating artwork created by Van Gogh during his stay at the Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, an asylum located in France. This iconic painting is the artist’s dream interpretation of his window at the asylum. The artwork represents hope through the brightly-lit stars shining in the middle of a dark, windy night.
School of Athens by Raphael:
This iconic painting created between1509 and 1511 is a representation of Renaissance’s revival of cultural interest towards art, science, philosophy, mathematics, and architecture. The painting gathered some of the most well-known figures during the era of classical antiquity, mainly Aristotle, Plato, Pythagoras, and Pytolemy, studying in one room in Athens, Greece. The body position, pose, clothing, and the objects that the philosophers are holding are the representation of their knowledge and philosophy. For instance, Aristotle’s hands that point down towards the ground is a representation of his philosophy that opposes Plato’s (hence why Plato is pointing upwards in the painting).
The Scream by Edvard Munch:
This horrifyingly tumultuous painting is a representation of the artist’s existential crisis and fears. The iconic painting depicted a moment of Munch’s life where he walked on the road with his friends to witness a beautiful sunset. His friends (the people at the back) continued walking while he stopped to glance at the sky when all of a sudden, all the feelings and emotions suddenly came out, like some sort of a panic attack. The dread of existence, the weight of nature, and the scary reality hit him all at once. According to Munch, The Scream is a depiction of his soul painted in a very unrealistic manner instead of painting in accordance with the dominant art style of his era.
The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali:
Recognized as one of the greatest surrealist artworks, The Persistence of Memory is Dali’s attempt to explore the unconscious mind through dreams. Popularly known as the “melting clocks” or “melting watches,” this iconic painting may represent one of the artist’s dreams during one of his sleeps. Dali was known as a sleepy person who used sleeping and dreams to fuel his artworks. Accordingly, the clocks in the painting represent the persisting time upon the eyes of the dreamer as he indulges in sleeping.
American Gothic by Grant Wood:
Often used as a pop culture reference and has been parodied and appropriated many times, American Gothic is one of the world’s iconic paintings whose meaning is still up for debate. Many believe that the painting is an image of a husband and wife but contrary to the popular belief, it is actually an image of a farmer and his daughter. Accordingly, the painting is a representation of rural America and its practical and hardworking people with conservative ideals (pitchfork). The house at the background of the painting represents the association of Americans with their homes as an extension of their personalities.
- The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai:
Popularly known as “The Great Wave,” this woodblock print is considered as the most recognizable Japanese artwork ever created. This painting tells the story of Japan’s history and politics at the time when it was created. The painting represents Japan’s protectiveness of its land during the time of history when the world’s getting industrialized while the Japanese citizens were protecting the borders of their land from foreign invasion.
We hope that you enjoyed taking a glance and unveiling the meaning behind some of the world’s iconic paintings. Remember, sometimes, it doesn’t take too much time learning something. It may only take you 30 seconds… or even less than that.