The World’s Greatest Painting - Whistler Camping

The World’s Greatest Painting

What would we do without art? Art is beauty captured in painting. There are so many paintings today that choosing the best is a problem. How can you choose the best when each painting is unique and has its own story to tell? Anyway there are still those who believe that some works of art stand tall.

 Altamira Cave Paintings, Cantabria, Spain. “As I understand it, these paintings were made 15,000 years ago by people lying on their backs painting the ceiling by torchlight a mile into a dark cave. The images were a distillation of actual sights seen. The Altamira Cave paintings remain ritual, spiritual, essential, and magical.” —Richard Serra, artist

Francisco de Goya, Saturn Devouring His Son (1820–23), Prado, Madrid. “It is an unbelievably powerful painting. It remains timeless, universal, and forever relevant. It reflects our own anxieties as human beings mixed with social anxiety and political anxiety. The artist’s personal anxiety, his anguish, is embedded in the work. The first time I saw it, I was horrified and couldn’t breathe.” —Shirin Neshat, artist.

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There are works of art that show the fullness of life. They show how life secretly begins in the womb while others show it is taken in the hands of the unmerciful.

Leonardo da Vinci – The Foetus in the Womb (c 1510-13)

Leonardo expresses the human condition in a nutshell – indeed, his rendition of the womb resembles an opened horsechestnut casing. Inside is the beginning of us all laid bare. Five hundred years ago, this artist and scientist could portray the human mystery with a wonder that is not religious but biological he holds up humanity as a fact of nature. It is for me the most beautiful work of art in the world.

Caravaggio – The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist (1608)

Caravaggio shows a murderous moment in a prison yard. The executioner has drawn a knife to sever the last tendons and skin of John the Baptist’s neck. Someone watches this horrific moment from a barred window. All around is sepulchral gloom. Death and human cruelty are laid bare by this masterpiece, as its scale and shadow daunt and possess the mind.

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The world has beautiful paintings. There are also strange paintings and there are weird paintings. It is not understood why the painter painted.

  1. The Scream ‘ Edvard Munch

This is Munch’s most famous painting and has been a talking point for art critics and the general population for over a century now. It is an impressionist painting; there are three figures standing on a pier overlooking the sea. In the background are a couple of boats and in the foreground is a ghastly skeletal figure and it is holding its face in a silent scream. To the left of the painting are a man and a woman in Victorian clothing. There are a number of theories about its meaning which include mental health, the Krakatoan eruption and loneliness.

  1. The Son of Man ‘ Rene Magritte

This famous bizarre painting is of a man in a grey suit, a red tie and wearing a bowler hat on his head. His face is obscured by an apple and it has had critics talking about its meaning for some fifty years. He stands against a brick wall which overlooks a body of water. His hands are by his side but his left arm appears to be bent backwards on the elbow. It is actually a self-portrait and Magritte said he wished to bring attention to that which is hidden even when in plain sight.

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