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15 Facts About Famous Art

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1. Mona Lisa

While some claim that Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous painting is a self-portrait of the artist himself in drag, research has concluded it is likely a portrait of a woman named Lisa Gherardini, a member of a prominent Florentine family and wife of a wealthy silk merchant. Leonardo’s father allegedly knew Gherardini’s father very well, and the painting was possibly commissioned by him.

2.  The Last Supper

Da Vinci’s other most famous work—which can be seen in the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy—originally included Jesus’ feet. But in 1652, while installing a doorway in the refectory where the painting is on view, builders cut into the bottom-center of the mural, lopping off Jesus’ feet.

3. The Starry Night

The small town depicted in Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night is Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in the south of France. Van Gogh painted the work while he was a patient at the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole, a psychiatric hospital in Saint-Rémy. Presently, the hospital has a wing named after the painter.

4. Michelangelo’s David

The marble slab that was eventually turned into the sculpture of David by Michelangelo in 1504 was cut 43 years earlier for an artist named Agostino di Duccio, who planned to turn it into a statue of Hercules. Di Duccio abandoned his sculpture, which was originally to be installed in a Florentine cathedral, and the marble was unused for 10 years until another sculptor, named Antonio Rossellino, decided to work with it. Rossellino also abandoned his work because he found marble too difficult to sculpt, and eventually Michelangelo began work on his sculpture in 1501.

5. The Creation of Adam

Michelangelo painted the fresco ceiling of the Sistine Chapel—including the most famous panel called “The Creation of Adam,” which depicts God giving life to the first man—entirely standing up. The artist invented a series of scaffolds specially designed to attach to the chapel walls with brackets so he and his assistants could be close enough to the ceiling to reach above their heads to work and paint.

6. The Scream

There are technically five separate versions of Expressionist artist Edvard Munch’s most famous work, The Scream. The first two, from 1893 and created with tempera and crayon on cardboard, are located in the National Gallery in Oslo and the Munch Museum, respectively. A privately owned third version created in 1895 with pastels recently sold for nearly $120 million at auction. Yet another version from 1895 is a black and white lithograph. A final version, done in 1910 by Munch due to the popularity of the previous incarnations, is also held in the Munch Museum, and it made headlines in recent years for being stolen in 2004 and recovered in 2006.

7. Les Demoiselles d'Avignon

Picasso’s abstract depiction of five Barcelona prostitutes was deemed immoral when it debuted at the artist’s studio in 1907. Picasso created over 100 preliminary sketches and studies before setting his vision down on canvas, and in previous incarnations the figure at the far left was a man.

8. The Thinker

Though there are now dozens of casts of Auguste Rodin’s famous sculpture The Thinker around the world, it had a much smaller origin. Rodin originally created a 70cm version in 1880 as the central component to a bigger sculptural work called “The Gates of Hell.” Inspired by Dante’s Inferno, the piece—first called The Poet—was conceived as a representation of Dante himself. The re-dubbed sculpture was exhibited on its own in 1888, then was enlarged to the depiction we know it today in 1904.

9.  Girl with a Pearl Earring

Much like the Mona Lisa, the subject of Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring has been highly contested—but for the most likely candidate, Vermeer didn’t have to look far. The model for his painting is thought to be his daughter Maria.

10. American Gothic

Another famous painting with interesting models is Grant Wood’s American Gothic, which can be seen on view in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. To depict—for better or worse—the ideals of rural America, Wood wanted to use his mother, Hattie, as a model for his painting. Wood determined that standing for so long would be far too exhausting for his mother, so he had his sister wear his mother’s apron and pin while posing. For the male subject in the painting, Wood used his 62-year-old dentist.

11. Nighthawks

Another painting in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago is Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. Hopper allegedly based the painting on a diner that was located in New York City’s Greenwich Village in an area where Greenwich Street meets 11th Street and 7th Avenue called Mulry Square. But he actually based the painting on an all-night coffee stand. “I simplified the scene a great deal and made the restaurant bigger,” he said. “Unconsciously, probably, I was painting the loneliness of a large city.”

12. The Persistence of Memory

Though the notoriously plucky artist Salvador Dali sought to never explain his own work, he has said that the idea for his iconic melting clocks came from chunks of Camembert cheese he observed melting in the sun—although he may have been joking.

13. Autumn Rhythm (Number 30)

Abstract Expressionist Jackson Pollock is known for his many drip paintings, all of which he created by placing the canvases horizontally on the floor of his backyard studio and carefully dripping layers of paint onto them. For Autumn Rhythm (Number 30), Pollock created the work using non-traditional items like sticks, trowels, and knives.

14. Broadway Boogie Woogie

Dutch artist Piet Mondrian moved to New York City in 1940, and would base his famous work Broadway Boogie Woogie on the iconic grid layout of the city’s streets.

15. Campbell’s Soup Cans

Rebecca O'Connell

Andy Warhol’s 1962 Pop Art depiction of a Campbell’s Soup can actually comes in a set of 32 silkscreened canvases, each representing the 32 separate soup varieties that the company sold at the time. Warhol never gave instructions on how to display them, so the Museum of Modern Art arranged them chronologically in the order in which the soups were introduced by the Campbell's.

Art
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YouTube/Great Big Story
See the Secret Paintings Hidden in Gilded Books
YouTube/Great Big Story
YouTube/Great Big Story

The art of vanishing fore-edge painting—hiding delicate images on the front edges of gilded books—dates back to about 1660. Today, British artist Martin Frost is the last remaining commercial fore-edge painter in the world. He works primarily on antique books, crafting scenes from nature, domestic life, mythology, and Harry Potter. Great Big Story recently caught up with him in his studio to learn more about his disappearing art. Learn more in the video below.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Mathew Tucciarone
Candytopia, the Interactive Art Installation Made of Sweet Treats, Is Coming to New York City
Mathew Tucciarone
Mathew Tucciarone

A colorful exhibition is sharing some eye candy—and actual candy—with visitors. The sweet art pop-up, called Candytopia, is heading to New York City this summer following successful stints in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, Gothamist reports.

Candytopia feels a little like Willy Wonka’s chocolate room. More than a dozen rooms with psychedelic backdrops will be on view, as well as candy-inspired interpretations of famous artworks such as Mona Lisa and The Thinker. The installation is the brainchild of Jackie Sorkin, the star of TLC’s Candy Queen.

Many of the art installations are made from actual candy, but unlike Wonka’s lickable wallpaper, visitors will have to keep their hands and tongues to themselves. Instead, guests will be given samples of various sweet treats like gummies, chocolates, and “nostalgic favorites.”

Forbes named Candytopia one of the best pop-up museums to visit in 2018. New York City seems the perfect place for the exhibit, having formerly hosted other food-inspired pop-ups like the Museum of Pizza and the Museum of Ice Cream.

Candytopia will debut in New York City on August 15 at Penn Plaza at 145 West 32nd Street. Tickets must be purchased in advance, and they can be ordered on Candytopia’s website. Private events and birthday parties can also be arranged.

Keep scrolling to see some more installations from Candytopia.

A wing of the Candytopia exhibit
Mathew Tucciarone

An Egyptian-inspired statue made of candy
Mathew Tucciarone

A candy version of the Mona Lisa
Mathew Tucciarone

A shark statue
Mathew Tucciarone

[h/t Gothamist]

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