Art That I Like Looking At: Five Of The Greatest Works Of Art Of All Time
By Dr. Jeff Geoff
Ask any self-respecting art historian to compose a greatest works
of art list and odds are he'll run screaming in the other direction.
Both Gombrich and Janson dodged the question while they were alive. Janson
said of the task, "I am afraid I'll spend too many sleepless nights tossing
and turning." Still there are plenty of art historians who will offer
up a list with no problem. Thomas Hoving is a list whore. And Sister Wendy
has put together more lists than Casey Kasem. Where do I stand on making
such lists? All I can say is that penguin has seen more cabbage than Gombrich
ever saw. So without further ado I offer you my selection for Five of
the Greatest Works of Art of All Time.
ARTIST: Akiyoshi Kitaoka
WORK: Rotating Snakes
COMMENT: Rotating Snakes is the Pieta of optical
illusions. A perfect blend of science and dynamism, this work has enough
kinetic motion to make Victor Vasarely cream on a Bridget Riley painting.
It also has taken Op-Art back from those dirty hippies and Magic Eye
posters. And nobody has to pretend they see a dolphin,
a heart or a baby
seal to understand why it's so awesome.
ARTIST: Anything by Richard Stankiewicz or John Chamberlain
COMMENT: I wish there was one particular art piece that stressed
exactly what it was I like about these artists and their work. The problem
is I like any sculpture where machine scraps or crumpled automobile parts
have been welded together. The other problem is both these artists more
or less made the same work of art throughout their careers. Nevertheless,
they used the raw power and brute strength of scrap metal to express a
great idea again and again and again. Keep it coming boys!
ARTIST: Pablo Picasso
WORK: The Dream
COMMENT: Recognizing the true brilliance of a Picasso work can
be difficult. I didn't completely understand the genius of his paintings
until I saw The Dream. Initially, when I saw this piece I took
it as another interpretation on an old theme: woman asleep. But after
awhile I realized that the subject of this painting isn't sleeping. What
she's doing is touching herself, fantasizing about a huge cock. Turn it
sideways and take a look at the right half of her face. What do you see?
What I see is a big dick and once you see that dick it will never go away.
How brilliant is that? I can say without doubt that The Dream is
the most awesome painting Picasso ever made.
ARTIST: Nigel Cooke
WORK: Silva Morosa
COMMENT: Since every other art historian has some dumb landscape
on his list I feel I should include one too. However, I refuse to select
some stupid nature painting like Stubbs' Mare and Foals in a Wooded
Landscape, which is one of Sister Wendy's picks. Boring! I'm also
not going to pick Bellows' North River, which is what Hoving chose.
Yawn! Instead my choice is Silva Morosa by Nigel Cooke. Like most
of his paintings, Silva Morosa is an unbelievable representation
of ecological futurism and urban decomposition. As far as landscapes go,
Cooke's work has everything; decapitated heads, smoking rocks, graffiti,
skulls and almost no actual landscape to speak of. What more could you
ARTIST: Frank Frazetta
WORK: Dark Kingdom
COMMENT: I'm sure there are plenty of artworks that one could describe
as heavy metal. Robert Rauschenberg's Monogram, Damien Hirst's
A Thousand Years or Andy Warhol's The Last Supper come to
mind. But they're all missing one important component: a southern rock
soundtrack. If you're enjoying the Frazetta masterpiece Dark Kingdom,
odds are you're also boogying to the classic Hatchet record, Flirtin'
with Disaster. With its pornographic undertones, Viking slayer and
sweet swamp rock, this painting is a connoisseur's wet dream.
Dr. Jeff Geoff is professor of Fine Arts at the University of New York
City. He is the author of Amazing Scarification Activities You Can
Do At Home and The Marina Abramovic Scab Book. He has contributed
articles to numerous journals, including Elitism Today and Photogram