Five works of art you should know

Published On: October 6, 2017 12:24 PM NPT By: The Week Bureau

These masterpieces are not only pleasing to the eyes but have influenced the social and political scenarios of numerous counties for many years. They certainly carry a long history with them that needs to be understood and appreciated. You do not have to be an art enthusiast to comprehend these attractive pieces. Every month we compile for you five famous pieces of work. This is our attempt to get you acquainted with these exceptional paintings.

Ophelia by Sir John Everett Millais, between 1851 and 1852

This painting depicts Ophelia, a character in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, singing while floating in a river just before she drowns. This work was first exhibited in Royal Academy, London and since then it has received great accolades. Ophelia painting is especially famous for its accurate description of landscapes. This scene is described in Act IV, Scene VII of the play in a speech by Queen Gertrude. Through dead floating flowers and lively green leaves, a pattern of growth and decay in natural ecosystem is portrayed beautifully in this art. This painting is now at Tate Britain, London and its estimated value is 30 million pounds. 

Guernica by Pablo Picasso, 1937

This is a mural-sized oil painting by the well known artist, Pablo Picasso. It is regarded by many as the most influential anti-war painting in history. The colors used in this painting are black, grey and white that show the suffering of people due to violence, war and chaos. Picasso created this masterpiece as a response to the bombing of Guernica, a village in northern Spain. This painting was also displayed in a touring exhibition after its completion to raise funds for Spanish war relief.  Guernica has now become a universal and an extremely powerful symbol warning humanity against the suffering and destruction of war. 

Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe by Edouard Manet, 182 and 1863

This painting was originally named Le Bain (The Bath) and it shows a nude woman with two well dressed men on a picnic. The two men seem to be engaged in a deep conversation ignoring the woman. In the background, a lightly clad woman can be seen taking a bath in a stream. The style of this painting certainly broke academic painting tradition of its time. Manet has not tried to hide the brush strokes and the painting even looks unfinished in many areas. It is said that Manet often used real models as references for his painting. The nude woman in this painting is said to be Victorine Meurent who eventually became his frequently portrayed model. 

The Two Fridas by Frida Kahlo, 1939

This is an oil painting by a Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. The Two Fridas is considered to be one of her most notable paintings. It is a double self-portrait which depicts two versions of Kahlo facing each other. One is wearing a traditional Tehuana dress and the other is wearing a European style Victorian dress. According to some historians the two figures in the paining depict Frida’s dual heritage. Her father was a German and her mother was a mix of Spanish and American. This art piece was painted in the year she got divorced with her husband. Hence, the blood spills on her Victorian dress shows Kahlo’s painful life and the numerous surgical procedures she had been through. This picture also portrays the tradition of human sacrifice, Aztec that was common in those times.

Victory Boogie Woogie by Piet Mondrian, 1944

It is the last and an unfinished work of a Dutch painter, Piet Mondrian. This painting was purchased from an American collector Samuel Irving Newhouse for approximately 35 million euros, who had bought it for 12 million USD in the mid 1980s. This pioneering painting displays liveliness and new impressions of art work in geometrical patterns. Many commentators have seen a reflection of New York City in this painting. The city’s giant buildings and geometrical streets adhere to the linear pattern of this painting. In 2014 US President Barack Obama was photographed with this painting with the Dutch politicians. This was widely reported in the Dutch and Flemish news media.

Good Reads

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor
Price: Rs 638

Midwinter in the early years of this century, a teenage girl on holiday has gone missing in the hills at the heart of England. The villagers are called up to join the search, fanning out across the moors as the police set up roadblocks and a crowd of news reporters descends on their usually quiet home. Meanwhile, there is work that must still be done: cows milked, fences repaired, stone cut, pints poured, beds made, sermons written, a pantomime rehearsed. The search for the missing girl goes on, but so does everyday life. An extraordinary novel of cumulative power and grace, Reservoir 13 explores the rhythms of the natural world and the repeated human gift for violence, unfolding over thirteen years as the aftershocks of a stranger’s tragedy refuse to subside. McGregor writes with such grace and precision, with love even, about who and where we are, that he leaves behind all other writers of his generation.

Yudhisthira: The Unfallen Pandava by Mallar Chatterjee 
Price: Rs 472

The Unfallen Pandava is an imaginary autobiography of Yudhishthira, attempting to follow the well-known story of the Mahabharata through his eyes. In the process of narrating the story, he examines his extremely complicated marriage and relationship with brothers turned co-husbands, tries to understand the mysterious personality of his mother in a slightly mother-fixated way, conducts manic and depressive evaluation of his own self and reveals his secret darkness and philosophical confusions with an innate urge to submit to a supreme soul. His own story lacks the material of an epic, rather it becomes like confession of a partisan who, prevailing over other more swashbuckling characters, finally discovers his latent greatness and establishes himself as the symbolic protagonist. This book would appeal to those who want to know the story of Mahabharata in a contemporary way.  

The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares  
Price: Rs 638

This is a story about Ray and Sasha who share a bedroom and have overlapping circles of friends and the same sisters – but they have never met. Once, Sasha’s dad and Ray’s mum were married, and had three daughters. But the marriage crumbled. Now there are two new families with two new children, Sasha and Ray, and during the summer months they alternate sharing a rambling beach house. Teenagers now, Ray and Sasha find themselves becoming more and more curious about each other. When they finally meet, it’s a summer filled with romance and secrets, and a tragedy that will break or heal their families for ever. Both funny and tragic, this sharply observed drama recognizes the complexity of split families trying to heal and the ill effects of longstanding grudges. Brashares’s masterful orchestration of plot, multidimensional characters, and intriguing subplots will delight all.

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