The continuing part of our blog at famous paintings has a more contemporary feel to it, with selections from Andy Warhol and Edward Hopper. In part one we looked at some of the most classic art such as the Mona Lisa and The Girl with the Pearl Earring but now it is time to move on.
Art does not have to be hundreds of years old to be good, similar to wine, if you like it then that’s okay. We all have our own tastes, and the choices we have made in this blog are also social statements of their time.
Campbell’s Soup Cans – Andy Warhol
Campbell’s Soup Cans is a social statement by the pop-artist Andy Warhol, it is one of a series of paintings where the artist used big name branding as his theme. The piece almost looks photographic and was constructed using stencils, if you look closely then it is obvious the cans are not identical and the spacing varies.
Each of the 32 soup cans represent all the flavors of soup that Campbell’s made at the time in 1962. Warhol was caught up in mass processing like the cans themselves, he understood how important to the American public this was and how it was affecting society and depersonalizing it.
Nighthawks – Edward Hopper
The second painting from the 20th Century also highlights American art at that time. The painting is a snapshot of the culture in America in the 1940’s. The scene is set at night and some art critics say it is homage to Terrace Cafe at Night by Van Gogh.
It is the American response to that famous European scene, simple and yet highly effective as this painting is all about the narrative. Similar to much of Hopper’s works, he manages to convey the feeling of isolation, even though it is an urban scene. This is partially demonstrated by there being no door out of the cafe, and the difference in the shade of lighting in the cafe and outside on the dark street.
Nighthawks is an important piece as it challenges the audience to ask questions: Who is the man sitting alone? Did the couple arrive together? The whole piece is shrouded in mystery and that is its allurement.
The Scream – Edvard Munch
The Scream is one of the world’s most famous paintings and probably after the Mona Lisa is probably the most recognizable human figure in art. The Scream was actually painted in the 1800’s and the artist later revealed that he painted it during a period of overwhelming anxiety and melancholy.
This painting is so powerful on so many levels that it has been sought after by fair means and foul. It has been stolen twice and broke the world record for the most expensive painting sold at auction in 2012. The figure released was just under $120 million although this has been debated.
The Scream concludes our whistle stop tour of famous art pieces, perhaps it is indicative of the way art has progressed more into the psyche of man than telling stories about him. Certainly, great art should be thought provoking at the very least.