Our third and final look at the world’s most beautiful oil paintings, so far, we have seen the best religious, and most beautiful classics and now it is time to look at some of the more contemporary pieces.
La Moulin de la Galette
This painting by Renoir is one of the most expensive paintings ever sold, and is probably his most recognized work. La Moulin de la Galette was an open-air cafe and dance venue, that was frequented at the time by some of Paris’ most gifted artistic people. Renoir himself regularly attended Sunday afternoon dances and was enthralled by the happy people enjoying innocent fun. Most of the people in the painting were acquaintances and friends of Renoir, so many people have said that the piece does not depict a general crowd scene but is actually a set of individual portraits.
The first Art Nouveau style painting in our collection, and one of Gustav Klimt’s most recognizable pieces. Klimt was famous for painting using gold leaf, and The Kiss is a simple but highly ornate work of love. Interestingly the painting was bought and exhibited before Klimt had even completed it. The Belvedere Museum was happy to hang it in their gallery whilst Klimt put the final finishing touches to it. It was thought at the time that this painting was one of the best works of art ever, and it sold for 25,000 crowns which eclipsed the former highest price paid in Austria for a work of art which was a paltry 500 crowns.
Another contemporary piece, this time from Russian artist Vasily Kandinsky, this painting was monumental in Kandinsky’s transition as an artist. The previous Composition 7 was almost apocalyptic in its form, but Composition 8 painted a decade later showed new techniques using more geometric styling. Kandinsky was a writer as well as a prolific painter, and all his work aimed at formulating an abstract language which would provoke strong emotions to his audiences.
The Persistence of Memory
A classic example of surrealism by Salvador Dali, The Persistence of Memory is Dali’s most famous work, with its melting clocks and bold colours. It came at the time that Dali was experimenting with his “paranoiac-critical” method, and it was said this piece was created when Dali was having a hallucination. Dali was a child prodigy and actually started painting when he was just six years old, this signature work of The Persistence of Memory was created when Dali was just 28. There has been considerable debate about the inspiration and nature of this outstanding painting, and one theory is that the piece is Dali’s response to the Theory of Relativity by Albert Einstein. As one critic commented, “the soft watches are an unconscious symbol of the relativity of space and time”.
Dali dismissed this theory and simply stated that The Persistence of Memory was based on a wheel of Camembert cheese that had melted in the sun. Whether this was a tongue in cheek response from the painter is hard to tell, but Dali was famous for such retorts. This concludes our voyage into the world’s most beautiful oil paintings, both classic and contemporary art have been featured. And it shows that beautiful art is still being created today by talented and progressive painters.