Metatalktail Hour: Favorite Visual Art May 7, 2021 6:56 PM   Subscribe

Happy weekend, MetaFilter! This week, I'd love it if you'd share with me a link or two to some of your favorite visual art. Famous, obscure, amateur -- just something you love to look at, and why you love it.

As always, this is a conversation starter, not limiter! Tell us everything that's up with you!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 6:56 PM (55 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

I'm sure I've said it before, but my favorite is Jules Breton's The Song of the Lark at the Art Institute of Chicago. It's oil, so you really have to see it in person to appreciate the quality of the light in the painting, but it moves me even in reproduction.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:58 PM on May 7 [5 favorites]


Why have I framed what looks to be a generic gas station map of Chicagoland? My dad found this while cleaning out my grandma's things. It was filed with the rest of the trinkets from my grandparents' honeymoon to Chicago in 1947. And it looks like it was picked up from a Shell station yesterday.

Still unsure which of my grandparents drew the sea monsters in the lake.

Besides the sentimentality, I love this snapshot of a place from before the current era. This map has no interstates, O'Hare is still called Orchard Place, and while all the suburb names are there, there's space in between them. I just stare at this and try to compare it in my mind to the modern map.
posted by hwyengr at 7:26 PM on May 7 [15 favorites]


Please enjoy the scrolldown of the Haas Brothers’ gallery page. I just found this the other day so I don’t know about love, but there is not a thing in that gallery that doesn’t give me enjoyment in one way or the other. Also I want to put at least half of it in my mouth. So many forbidden snacks.
posted by Mizu at 7:32 PM on May 7 [6 favorites]


I was walking around inside Beaubourg and turned a corner to see Reciprocal Accords by Wassily Kandinsky. and what... was this? I can still get sucked into it. I had never noticed this artist before although I knew his Couple on Horseback -- but that was from his earlier, more conventional period.
posted by Rash at 8:00 PM on May 7 [6 favorites]


I'm lowbrow! I really enjoy the whimsy of shag. The gallery doesn't have much so here's the google images link.
posted by ashbury at 8:41 PM on May 7 [4 favorites]


Graeme McCormack's take on Judith and Holofernes just kicks my ass all over the map, love it.

More peacefully,The Garden of Death comes to mind. The skeletons are so dear and content.

Recommending Broad Strokes for anyone in this thread who is interested in female artists, it's very readable and interesting. I loved the sections on Rosa Bonheur (grown up horsegirl, lesbian) and Edmonia Lewis (Black woman, neoclassical sculpture with nonwhite subjects).
posted by snerson at 8:58 PM on May 7 [5 favorites]


Er, the actual Broad Strokes amazon link (helpful to include, now that I think about it).
posted by snerson at 8:59 PM on May 7


The Great Wave off Kanagawa has color, movement, emotion.
posted by soakimbo at 9:45 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]


I saw "The Raft of the Medusa" by Géricault on my first visit to Paris, and after I saw it I abandoned the rest of my afternoon plans. I just sat down in front of it for, at least, a couple of hours and just studied every detail. Every time I go back to Paris I make time to see it again.
posted by alchemist at 10:38 PM on May 7 [6 favorites]


When museums open up again in Paris I am planning to go back to Musée de l’Orangerie’s oval room that has a series of Monet’s enormous water lily paintings, and seats in the middle of the room. It is my favourite place in Paris.
posted by ellieBOA at 10:43 PM on May 7 [7 favorites]


Kazimir Malevich, The Knife Grinder.

I have a (hopefully) funny Malevich story. When I took the Western art history survey in college back in the day, it was taught in two major sections, the dawn of time through the 19th century, and then modern stuff. The prof teaching the first section was a bit of a heartthrob, very personable, of ambiguous sexuality in that 90s way, and you just sat there in the dark all hour admiring traditionally fabulous older Western art. The prof teaching the second section was an Italian (?) visiting prof, who had, well, none of the first prof's charisma, and subject matter to which the students were a lot less receptive. It got pretty dreary pretty fast.

Well, we were sitting there one day, dragging through some grim modernism, when suddenly a black square appeared on the giant projection screen. Just a black square. The professor tried to say, "What is this shift?", but, with her accent, it sounded like "What is this shit?" She brought the house down.

(It was, of course, Malevich's famous Suprematist work, Black Square.)
posted by praemunire at 12:42 AM on May 8 [2 favorites]


From the same time period, less famous, Alexandra Exter's Boulevard parisien, le soir (apparently I can't link to it directly, but it's the first color reproduction on the page). There was this whole Russian Cubist movement that didn't come up in aforesaid class; the vividness of color and dynamism works better for me than a lot of more Western cubism. There's an exhibition catalogue called Amazons of the Avant-Garde that chronicles the work of the several notable woman painters of this and allied movements that's definitely worth a look.
posted by praemunire at 12:51 AM on May 8 [1 favorite]


I think it's worth it to put Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun's Self-Portrait, c. 1781 into full-screen mode and fully zoom in, because at that scale the softly translucent details of her clothing and jewelry are amazing. There are probably a lot of paintings like Joseph Wright of Derby's Dovedale by Moonlight (c. 1785), but I think it captures the mysterious, unreal feeling of a landscape lit up at night where, like, everything seems like a maquette of itself--also, because of its date/subject, it reminds me of Charlotte Turner Smith's sonnet LIX: "Written during a Thunder Storm, September, 1791; in which the Moon was perfectly clear, while the Tempest gathered in various directions near the Earth."

I can relate a lot of other things I like to those two paintings--maybe just a personal feeling though, because I'm thinking as far afield as Corot's softly lit but neo-classical landscapes; Ivan Aivazovsky's translucent waves / nocturnal seascapes or Martin Johnson Heade's simultaneously luminous and somber landscapes; distressed/unreal landscapes like Caspar David Friedrich's The Monk by the Sea, Whistler's Nocturne Grey and Silver (among others), or Cy Twombly's untitled green paintings referencing Rilke; Maurice Sand's eerie illustrations of supernatural night scenes (e.g. this or this maybe influencing this more well-known painting); or surreal, blue-gray landscapes like Yves Tanguy's Neither Legends nor Figures or Wolfgang Paalen's Fata Alaska, which were probably influences on science fiction book covers by Richard M. Powers, including some weird covers that remind me of Vigée Le Brun's earrings abstracted beyond recognition.
posted by Wobbuffet at 1:30 AM on May 8 [2 favorites]


Men Seldom Make Passes At Girls Who Wear Glasses by Alexis Smith. IIRC it's a big wall painting and the silly visual pun and disproof of the adage always made me smile.
posted by benzenedream at 3:15 AM on May 8 [1 favorite]


ashbury's mention of Shag reminded me of this artist whose work I love: El Gato Gomez. So cool and fun.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 3:19 AM on May 8 [2 favorites]


I've been following the work of Tyler Hobbs for a few years, an Austin artist who specializes in Generative artwork.

He talks about his process in detail here, but basically uses "creative coding" techniques and then prints the results either using a plotter or by sending it off to a printer.

The results are often abstract and painterly, I find them fascinating. A few examples: posted by jeremias at 5:52 AM on May 8 [2 favorites]


Yes please!
David Galchutt - my fave the last few years
Colin Thompson intricate picturebook art especially the bookshelf ones
Daniela Volpari, utterly charming illustrations
Robin Yang-robinyangge IG, wonderful quirky portraits
Travis Louie, curious beasts and their people
posted by Glinn at 6:57 AM on May 8 [2 favorites]


All my faves are from the largest art gallery in my city. I grew up loving these pieces.

My favorite piece of art I've ever seen is the sculpture Baby Girl by Marisol.

I am also totally enamored by The Marvelous Sauce by Jehan Georges Vibert.

Also I love love love The Mirrored Room by Lucas Samaras.

My husband says his very favorite is Dinamismo di un cane al guinzaglio (Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash)
by Giacomo Balla.
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 8:11 AM on May 8 [1 favorite]


Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights. There is just so much to look at and 99% of it is absolutely, gloriously, unabashedly bonkers.
posted by The Ardship of Cambry at 8:49 AM on May 8 [7 favorites]


One of my favorite painters is Cosme Tura. His St George and the Dragon is just wondrous.

It is a large painting and hangs in a museum in Ferrara, Italy. The small museum is almost wholly dedicated to the work and security consists of three! guards all standing inside the same small room with you.

Ferrara itself is a fascinating town. If you are a fan of de Chirico then the town will feel familiar because that is what it is like: Unusual geometries, odd spaces and a feeling that something mysterious is around the corner.
posted by vacapinta at 9:23 AM on May 8 [3 favorites]


A few from the National Gallery of Ireland that I like:
The Liffey Swim by Jack B. Yeats for somehow managing to capture the atmosphere of Dublin, Group of Cavalry in the Snow: Moreau and Dessoles before Hohenlinden by Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier, again for the atmosphere, and The Meeting on the Stairs by Frederic William Burton because it’s a wonderfully romantic painting (and also the fact that it’s a *watercolour*).

Bonus: The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife By Daniel Maclise because it’s ginormous (and fairly bonkers).
posted by scorbet at 9:26 AM on May 8


I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold has always been one of my favorites.

Vorticism is an art movement I recently learned about. I don’t enjoy it per se but it’s so arresting. The Wikipedia article notes that it was unpopular, and one of Helen Saunders’ paintings ended up with her sister. The sister didn’t hang the painting or even stuff it in an attic: she covered the floor of her larder with it! The painting was trod upon and destroyed.
posted by Monochrome at 9:47 AM on May 8 [5 favorites]


When I first saw The Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner, I was immediately drawn to it, and even after leaving the room where it was displayed kept going back to look at it again. Several years later the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where Tanner trained, had an exhibition of his work and I was able to go twice. Now, whenever I visit an art museum in another city, I always check the museum's catalogue to see if it has any of his work.

What a wonderful topic!
posted by lharmon at 10:51 AM on May 8 [3 favorites]


Anything by Vermeer. And I can't recommend the 2013 film, Tim's Vermeer, directed by Teller of Penn and Teller fame, highly enough.
posted by manageyourexpectations at 1:03 PM on May 8 [3 favorites]


Oh - and we're in the process of moving to a neighboring state and buying a house. Ugh. :-(
posted by manageyourexpectations at 1:03 PM on May 8


I've a little canvas print off two electric trolleys moving down a narrow street. The city and rails are a faded blue, almost grey, but the trolleys are this nice little yellow that pops them out into focus. A then girlfriend was going to throw it out after our study abroad in Vienna and I took it rather than see it thrown away. It's just a spot piece of art, I'm sure mass produced, but it always brings me joy.
posted by Carillon at 1:06 PM on May 8 [2 favorites]


Whistlejacket (which was on loan elsewhere last time I was in the UK, alas)

The Getty no longer has it on display, thanks to discovering that it's a modern copy, but this rosso antico centaur is really stunning in person
posted by thomas j wise at 3:03 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


My wife and I attend the local university's student gallery fundraiser every year -- a lot of artists contribute art, everyone buys a ticket, and then the tickets are used for a draw. When your number is called, you pick a piece to take home with you! It's awesome.

This year, we were so in love with the piece we got -- a painting of the Mothman having a smoke under a tree -- that I secretly reached out to the artist and asked if I could commission her to paint two more "cryptids with vices" paintings as a belated Valentine's surprise.

Happily, she did!

Other recent art faves:

Chantal Rousseau paints a lot of things, but recently mainly birds, and for the last year has been juxtaposing "boring" birds with snack foods. I love these watercolours so much.

And another discovery from the gallery fundraiser (our friends chose the art) is Winnipeg artist Posy Legge; I love what she does with light in mundane settings, often alleys and garages.

On a very different note, I originally only knew of it because of a controversy about the price when it was first purchased, but any time I'm at Canada's National Gallery in Ottawa I try to make a point of setting aside at least 20 minutes for Voice of Fire. It's the ur-example of the kind of thing that gets sputtering conservatives yelling about what art is or isn't, but it's completely enthralling in person if you just stand there and let the scale of it draw you in.
posted by Shepherd at 3:50 PM on May 8 [9 favorites]


Mine is Fate of the Animals by Franz Marc. I would love to see it in person, but alas will have to do with art table books. It's also quite large, almost 6.5ft by 8.5ft, which makes it even neater, in my opinion.
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 3:54 PM on May 8 [5 favorites]


If you are a fan of de Chirico
Well now I'm making travel plans for 2025, vacapinta. Between Tanguey and de Chirico I will always get lost in alien landscapes in museums. The other alien landscape I like was drawn by all the nameless 1970s-early 80s illustrators who did a grid in perspective on black and threw, say, a computer, or an apple on it. Now it's called Vaporwave, but I was fascinated by that style as a kid watching PBS and having engineering journals come to the house.

More traditionally, I was just looking for a print of L'Ange Dechu by Cabanel. You don't even get both full eyes, but what a look you are getting. In all seriousness, though, are any of the print-on-demand places sort-of legit?
posted by cobaltnine at 5:13 PM on May 8


I'm fond of La creación de las aves by Remedios Varo. It's strange and soothing.
posted by a feather in amber at 5:22 PM on May 8 [5 favorites]


I've said this here before, but The Ecstacy of St. Theresa just blows me away every time I see it (well, pictures of it). The subject, the textures, everything.

I spent the morning at a food bank, working beside a high school sophomore who is hands-down one of the hardest working volunteers I've ever spent time with. She's focused, learns quick and has great judgment. I've worked with her a few times before. It always leaves me feeling better about the future, knowing that there are people like her that are coming up in the world. It is an antidote to the middle-aged bleakness I feel much of the time.

Plus, she's engaging, so it makes five hours of sorting dry goods/grocery rescue items fly by.
posted by Gorgik at 7:19 PM on May 8 [3 favorites]


For just drifting away with, I like Rousseau's Sleeping G****y

I splurged on a nice print of my friend Karen's print "3 May 1808" which is dark but I really like it.
posted by Rumple at 9:53 PM on May 8


Thanks to this thread I booked a time slot at the end of this month for the Musée de l’Orangerie! I hadn’t actually been to a museum or gallery even before the pandemic as I have limited mobility now, but for anyone visiting Paris (later!!) in the same position, this museum is smaller, and the oval room has seating so it will be manageable!
posted by ellieBOA at 11:35 PM on May 8 [2 favorites]


I love the Dream Of Jahangir. If I remember correctly the painting is actually a propaganda piece designed to persuade that the Mughal emperor is a more powerful and more benevolent emperor than the Persian emperor. (The Mughal emperor is bigger than his colleague and is standing on the lion while the other guy is stuck standing on the lamb.) But I ignore that and take the image itself as a moving portrayal of humanity and brotherly love. Which sounds ridiculous writing it, but really, look at it awhile and let it emanate . It's simply divine! I've not seen its like as an image of two men embracing.
posted by bertran at 12:49 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


Probably the first piece of visual art that really caught my attention was Gustave Courbet's The Desperate Man (Self Portrait). I was a profoundly depressed teenager, no help was coming until I managed to escape the abusive house I grew up in, and until that point I hadn't seen a piece of art that really captured the desperation I could see in my own eyes, even if no one else was paying enough attention to me to notice it.

The face he's making in the picture was a face I didn't even really feel allowed to make except when I was alone, and the idea of capturing such an emotion in art seemed absurd, so the fact that someone else had already done that 150 years before I was born was a big revelation. It suggested that - while I was certain I was the only profoundly depressed teenager in the world (obviously not true even among my own peer group but no one was really talking about it at that point, and mental illness was desperately taboo within my own family, probably because our only coping mechanism as a family system was continuing to inflict it on one another with one hand while clutching our pearls in denial about it with the other) - there would probably be other depressed adults in the world, and I might not actually be the superfreak I believed myself to be at that age. That someone else had felt what I was feeling too, and lived to paint it, and then lived to paint other things. I don't think I could have articulated that lesson quite as precisely at the time (I was convinced then that I'd kill myself before I was 30, an age that I'm now thankful to have lived beyond), but it makes sense in retrospect.

As an adult, I continue to be captivated by Velazquez's Las Meninas - the complexity of the people portrayed, use mirrors & implications of sightlines etc. is fascinating.
posted by terretu at 1:14 AM on May 9 [4 favorites]


I'm not really a person driven by visual input. Nearly all of the artwork I love is attractive because it's interesting or disturbing, not because I actually enjoy looking at it. My first discovery that art could be worth paying attention to, some time in junior high, was Magritte. I've seen every painting I know about in every city I've been to. But, I'm not sure I actually love looking at any of it. Most of the things I find exciting without context are physical objects. I'm a sucker for cut, pressed glass and big metal things.

Casting about for the most recent thing that struck me: it's a series of oil portraits, many on wood, on the walls of a nearby taco restaurant. The signature is incomprehensible, and the staff didn't know anything about it when I asked a few years ago. But, this has motivated me to figure out who painted them. I've now found the owner's name. I'm going to track him down.
posted by eotvos at 10:10 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


I love Matisse's Apollo at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. I was an exhausted college student rounding a corner, and it basically smacked me in the face with joy and rejuvenated me on the spot. When I finished up with everything else I went back and sat on the bench in front of it until the museum was about to close.
posted by fedward at 10:53 AM on May 9


Reading something else yesterday reminded me of this: Gerrit Dou, Sleeping Dog (nonpaywalled link), one of the earliest "standalone" paintings of a dog in the West.
posted by praemunire at 1:02 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]


I've always been a fan of the more surreal artists--I used to have a print of M.C. Escher's Relativity, actually. I've also always liked Magritte, and for years I've been meaning to get a print of his Le Château des Pyrénées.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:37 PM on May 9


I'm not into paintings much but I am a fan of some other types of creative expression. Last October I went to an exhibit of work by wanja djanaieff, please forgive the fact that I have not capitalized that name because I'm dictating and it's weird. Anyway, she's a fabulous Swedish textile designer also known for theater designs and other groovy things. I strongly recommend doing a Google search on her name and images only to see some examples of her work over the years. I think it's fabulous.
posted by Bella Donna at 3:23 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]


Just this week I was obsessing over Gregory Manchess's cover for Michael Crichton's (as John Lange) "Zero Cool"
posted by chavenet at 3:24 PM on May 9


I've been to many art museums, in Chicago, Boston, the UK, etc. And I think, for me, what stands out most, what I remember the most is Paul Klee's Ad Parnassum. I don't know why, but every time I think of art, I think of this.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:08 PM on May 9


I have always loved the work of Piranesi.

Oh, and!: I have been playing a lot of Destiny 2 lately (for the first time ever, so yeah only like seven years behind) and am a big fan of the game's environmental art.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:28 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]




Phazed double.
posted by firstdaffodils at 11:53 PM on May 9


fond of hamada chimei, particularly this one.
posted by 20 year lurk at 7:33 AM on May 10


I love Claes Oldenburg, especially Cupid’s Span.

Andy Goldsworthy.

But drop me in any modern art museum and I can spend all day there.
posted by bendy at 1:14 AM on May 11 [1 favorite]


There's a gallery in the Philadelphia Museum of Art dedicated to a ten painting series by Cy Twombly called Fifty Days at Iliam that presents Twombly's interpretation of the end of the Trojan War. I realize that Twombly isn't for everybody, but I love that space. I love sitting in the middle of that gallery and watching the end of the war unfold in a series of angry marks, disappearing texts, and explosive color.

More often than not when I visit that museum, that gallery is closed, and it's kinda tucked away so even if it's open it's not easy to find. But if you go and can't find it, ask a docent. It's well worth the bother.

Here are pictures of the works but please don't judge by this lesser experience. Here's a nice splainer about the work.
posted by Stanczyk at 2:36 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]


I love István Zoltánfy's paintings. They remind me my university years in a little university town in south Hungary: Szeged.

Here's a hungarian article about his art with a lot of his paintings, with one of his famous tryptichs.

Here a couple more from around the web:
Self portrait with painting
Self-portrait with table
Neighbouring farm

more in google image search
posted by kmt at 5:57 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]


Yayoi, always and forever.
posted by h00py at 3:34 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]


Rembrandt's Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee is my current obsession, thanks to Netflix. Please note Rembrandt staring at you from the port side and the light on Christ's face.
posted by donpardo at 7:48 AM on May 13


I realize that Twombly isn't for everybody

My father hated Twombly's work, citing what he saw as his contempt for the viewer.

Edit: Not that you shouldn't like him. Just an aside.
posted by donpardo at 7:50 AM on May 13


I've been on an Odilon Redon kick lately, just an amazing color palette. (Great use of Twitter, if you indulge, is to discover and follow artist fan accounts.)
posted by Bron at 9:25 AM on May 14


Starry Night on the Rhone This is my all time fave artwork. When I saw it in the Musee d'Orsay I had to sit down for about 45 minutes to take it in. The reproductions of this piece were terrible because of color fade. Our new digital world does better with it.
posted by Oyéah at 1:01 PM on May 14


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