My Ten Most Influential Works of Art

Earlier today on Google+, a friend posted Ten works of art that changed his life, and asked others for their top ten.  They had to be works you’ve seen in person, not online or in a book.

Well, even though I knew I wanted to be a painter like the instant I was born, I never got to see any real art in person until I was in my early 20’s.  Now I find it very hard to pick only 10 from all the art I’ve seen since, AND to limit it to in-person experiences.  Anyway, these are the ten I picked this morning; this evening, I might have chosen differently.  🙂

In no particular order:

Paul Cézanne - Basket of Apples

Cezanne, Basket of Apples (and more) — getting a handle of the idea of introducing time and motion into painting way back when.

1. Cezanne, Basket of Apples (and more) — We studied this painting (and others Cezannes) extensively when I was in art school, studying “The Figure in Space:” notice how the back of the table edge, and other parts, don’t line up across the painting?  According to my teacher, this was Cezanne’s way of introducing time and motion into painting, so early on.  He would move around the room to paint the still life from different viewpoints.

Rothko Chapel, Houston

Rothko, Rothko Chapel in Houston — so many shades of black, something that could be so oppressive. I found it very spiritual and deeply moving.

2.  Rothko, Rothko Chapel in Houston — my 1st trip to Houston, during my first art classes in Austin, late 80’s.  So many shades of black, something that could be so oppressive.  I found it very spiritual and deeply moving.  I still get stuck in front of Rothko paintings.  I am drawn in.

Hans Hofmann - Elysium

Hans Hoffman, Elysium (and the better one at AIC) — learning how to use color to push something back or pull it forward.

3.  Hans Hofmann, Elysium — walking around the Michener Collection at UT Austin way before the Blanton Museum existed, with amazing painter Melissa Miller; she explained how Hofmann used color to push something back or pull it forward.

de Kooning, Excavation

de Kooning, Excavation — more push-pull with thick paint and fascinating color.

4.  de Kooning, Excavation — The AbEx room at the Art Institute of Chicago was my sanctuary when I needed a break from painting, or some inspiration.  Pollock’s “Greyed Rainbow,” a Rothko or two, a Clyfford Still (love the jaggies), and more Hans Hofmann paintings, but this was my favorite.  I was trying to learn to paint abstractly, and use more paint, bigger brushes!  The thickness of this paint, the colors that peeked through from underneath another brushstroke — all that push-pull of thick paint and fascinating color.

Wayne Thiebaud

Wayne Thiebaud — Lovely color and paint, but even more intriguing perspective.

5.  Wayne Thiebaud — Got to see a whole exhibition at the old Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth in 2000 — while I really love the yummy, yummy thick paint and gorgeous color in his pies and cakes and such, I was really blown away by the perspective he used in his landscapes.

David Hockney, A Walk Around the Hotel Courtyard, Acatlan

David Hockney, A Walk Around the Hotel Courtyard, Acatlan — pushing Cezanne perspective even further.

6.  David Hockney, A Walk Around the Hotel Courtyard, Acatlan — During art school in 1992, some of my fellow art students and I trudged many blocks through the snow one lunch period to visit a gallery showing recent works by David Hockney.  This was my favorite — taking Cezanne perspective to a new level.

Matthew Ritchie - The Slow Tide

Matthew Ritchie, The Slow Tide — 3D imagist abstraction in paintings that spill off the canvas, onto the museum walls, floors, and ceiling.

7.  Matthew Ritchie, The Slow Tide, et al — 2 things: painting that goes beyond the canvas and onto the museum walls, floors, and ceiling; and 3D imagist abstraction, which was kind of new to me in 2001.  I like others of his works better, but this experience at the Dallas Museum of Art kind of blew my mind.

Marcel Duchamp, The Passage from Virgin to Bride

Marcel Duchamp, The Passage from Virgin to Bride – wonderful muted palette, great motion and shapes.

8.  Marcel Duchamp,  The Passage from Virgin to Bride — I have no words for how much I love this and the other paintings like it: the palette, the breaking up of the image…Not sure where and when I saw this one; I think “The King and Queen Surrounded by Swift Nudes” mighthave been on display in the same show?

Kandinsky - Sketch for Composition II

Kandinsky – Sketch for Composition II — glorious yellow!

9.  Kandinsky, all the yellow abstract paintings — what glorious color!  I loved the ones on display at AIC, while I was a student next door.  Then we saw a bunch more wonderful Kandinskys at the Guggenheim, NY, 2003.  If Van Gogh’s yellows didn’t make me fall in love with that glorious color, than Kandinsky’s did (but it’s a tough call).  🙂

Lee Bontecou, Untitled, 1960-2

Lee Bontecou, Untitled, 1960 — sculptural canvas and wire construction that just fascinates me.

10. Lee Bontecou, Untitled, 1960 — This was the sculptural canvas and steel art protruding from the wall in the Art Institute of Chicago (early ’90’s) that just drew me in and kept me there.  And if you know me, you’ll know I’ve even recently begun a series based on this and other works by Bontecou.  Woo-hoo!

Those are mine; what are yours?

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Fine art is that in which the hand, the head, and the heart of man go together.

— John Ruskin
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Untitled 2015-026 - Oil on Canvas - 10 x 10 - © 2015 Marilyn Fenn Composition Number 9, 2013 - Acrylic on panel -  9 x 12 -  © 2013 Marilyn Fenn Untitled 2015-024 - Oil on Canvas - 8 x 8 - © 2015 Marilyn Fenn Untitled (2015-006) - Oil painting by Marilyn Fenn