Lost In The Last List, Amused Not In The Least

No two people on earth would agree on the world’s Top 200 Artists (20th Century to Now) or, indeed, the order in which they are ranked.

I don’t believe there was newer poll like the one that was conducted by The Times in 2009.  I haven’t seen it then, otherwise I’d remember. The entire list from 1 to 200 can be seen here complete with the numbers, indicating how many ballots were cast for each artist in the list.

The list is as bewildering to me as it has been, according to many forums, for many who are familiar with it or participated in the poll. The number in parenthesis following the name means the artist’s ranking in the list of 200.

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When artist studies painting for many years and claims having been capable of re-creating Flemish masters and the greats of the Renaissance and then creates works like those in the slideshow above, then from the depth of my ignorance, confusion, lack of ability to discern the cut diamond in the mud, I say to myself this (or something similar to it):

Wouldn’t it be the same as if the brain surgeon who mastered the most delicate flesh-cutting implements suddenly approaches operating table wielding a sledge hammer and a carving knife? (quoting myself).

I test-drove this phenomenally bold phrase of mine, crashing it head-on onto several of my friends and got rebuffed as you wouldn’t believe. As an aftermath, I’m rethinking my public position in favor of using less inflammatory similes and metaphors. Still, I retain my right to keep some of my less radical opinions and express them freely.

All right. Enough with insincere apologies.

Granted, I’m no art historian, art theorist or even art therapist. But I’m art lover. With credentials of setting foot into the greatest repositories of arts such  as Hermitage (Saint Petersburg), Louvre (Paris), Museo Nacional del Prado, The Uffizi Gallery (Florence) to name a few.  I simply love “pretty pictures”, literary and metaphorically speaking.

If I were an art historian, perhaps I’d have looked at the paintings differently. My changed perspective would’ve changed my perception. Instead of the mess on the canvas below (Arshile Gorky, ranked 57th on the list) I’d be able to see how and why it is said that Arshile Gorky  “lit the way for two generations of American artists”.

Arshile Gorky (57). Agony

Arshile Gorky (57). Agony

Tragic life of an artist adds a nice touch to the marketing effort, I suppose. And — God Almighty! — Arshile’s lived a horrendously tragic life.  “…his works were often speculated to have been informed by the suffering and loss he experienced of the Armenian Genocide.

No kidding. It wasn’t for nothing that Vosdanig Manoug Atoian changed his last name to Gorky. In Russian gorkiy means bitter, relating both to taste and hardship. He was 16 in 1915 when his family escaped the Armenian Genocide into Yerevan, then Russian-controlled territory, where his mother died in 1919 of starvation. Years later, quite established artist working in the US, he hanged himself at the age of 44, following a colostomy for cancer, a broken neck  and his painting arm paralyzed in a car accident, his wife leaving him and taking their children with her, and his  studio barn burning down. What a goddamn fate! Of course “his works have been informed by the suffering…”

The Number One in the list is Pablo Picasso with 21,587 art lovers giving their loving votes of admiration to him. My personal favorite, Salvador Dalí (11,496 votes) is number 26.

Well, if I were an art theorist, I’d remember by heart this quote I cribbed from the Internet somewhere:

“Dalí challenged the imagination of his age by deconstructing classical imagery and reassembling it with the symbolic imagery of the subconscious. The modernists and later Picasso deconstructed traditional imagery and left nothing but chaos in its place.”

Dalí would’ve agreed, I’m sure. He wasn’t — just as I’m not — a great admirer of Picasso. Whatever Salvador might’ve thought of Pablo, this is how he depicted him in Portrait of Picasso, in the collection of the great Teatru-Museu Dali in Figueres, Spain. picasso dali self

In Portrait of Picasso, in the collection of the great Teatru-Museu Dali in Figueres, Spain, Dali respectfully places his hapless subject on a pedestal, though the carnation might be what one places on a tombstone! The ambivalence and paradox continue: the lute in the elongated spoon, which extends from Picasso’s brain, is said to be “the symbol of the lover,” according to one authority, yet the rock on Picasso’s head, his drooping tongue and chest, and the overall deformity of his facial characteristics seem anything but flattering.

It is undoubtedly one of the most sardonic yet amusing creations to come from the wildly imaginative, sometimes iconoclastic mind of the Master of Surrealism! (From Portrait of Picasso’ Shows Dali’s Sardonic Side )

And an anecdote to go with it: One day Pablo Picasso walked on a thief who was robbing his apartment. Spooked, the robber ran away.  The police wanted a sketch artist to create a facial composite of the perpetrator, but Picasso offered to draw it himself. Based on Picasso’s sketch, the following lookalikes were detained for questioning: fifteen people, two horses, four buses, one utility pole, a plate of fried fish and a chain saw. 

To be continued…

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3 comments on “Lost In The Last List, Amused Not In The Least

    • I agree. Nothing beats my awesome eye-rolling. Once one experiences it — one immediately starts to look for a stick to pock me in the eye. Cannot blame them though… He-he-he.

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