Most expensive paintings (sale prices expressed in dollars and adjusted for inflation):
- No. 5, 1948, Jackson Pollock: $142.7 million (2006)
- Woman III, Willem de Kooning: $140.2 million (2006)
- Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, Gustav Klimt: $137.6 million (2006)
- Portrait of Dr. Gachet, Vincent van Gogh: $129.7 million (1990)
- Bal au moulin de la Galette, Montmartre, Pierre-Auguste Renoir: $122.8 million (1990)
- GarÃ§on Ã la pipe, Pablo Picasso: $113.4 million (2004)
- Irises, Vincent van Gogh: $97.5 million (1987)
- Dora Maar au Chat, Pablo Picasso: $97.0 million (2006)
- Portrait de l’artiste sans barbe, Vincent van Gogh: $90.1 million (1998)
- Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II, Gustav Klimt: $89.1 million (2006)
Japanese industrialist Ryoei Saito bought both #4 and #5 in 1990 and then announced he would have them burned during his cremation. Perhaps fortunately, he later ran into financial difficulties and was forced to sell them.
Someone once asked Jean Cocteau, “Suppose your house were on fire and you could remove only one thing. What would you take?”
Cocteau considered, then said, “I would take the fire.”
Finland’s national painting is Hugo Simberg’s The Wounded Angel.
Simberg refused to explain its meaning … but it was his favorite work.
James McNeill Whistler failed his West Point chemistry exam.
“If silicon had been a gas,” he said later, “I should have been a major general.”
PIET MONDRIAN is an anagram of I PAINT MODERN.
Before conductors used batons, they kept time by banging a long staff against the floor. In January 1687, Jean-Baptiste Lully was conducting a Te Deum in this way when he struck his toe. The wound turned gangrenous, the gangrene spread — and he died.
Born in Bern in 1768, the autistic Gottfried Mind could barely write his name, but on seeing a cat in a painting by his drawing-master, he immediately said, “That is no cat!” The master asked whether he thought he could do better, and Mind produced a drawing so good that the master copied it.
Thereafter Mind worked surrounded by cats, painting them with a remarkable eye for their individual character and occasionally carving them from chestnuts for sport. In the work of other artists it’s said that he liked nothing but the lions of Rubens, Rembrandt, and Paulus Potter, and he looked down even on celebrated cats by Cornelius Vischer and Wenzel Hollar.
“First and last,” said Goethe, “what is demanded of genius is love of truth.”
Picasso’s full name was Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Clito Ruiz y Picasso.
Etching by Hungarian artist István Orosz.
Oscar Wilde said, “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.”
“See what will happen if you don’t stop biting your fingernails?” — Will Rogers, to his niece on seeing the Venus de Milo
An optical illusion. Squares A and B are the same color.
Giuseppe Arcimboldo‘s caricature of Rudolf II’s historiographer and librarian, Wolfgang Lazio (1514-1565) — a collector of coins and a lover of books.
“All Is Vanity” (1892), by the American illustrator C. Allan Gilbert.
Back up to get the full effect.
Irish astronomer William Parsons might have been surprised to see van Gogh’s The Starry Night appear in 1889.
He had drawn this sketch of the Whirlpool Galaxy 44 years earlier:
Artist Giovanni Piranesi spent his days making etchings of Roman ruins, but apparently he had a darker side. In the mid-1700s he published 14 prints of “imaginary prisons” — hellish vaults, machines and staircases taken from no earthly subject.
It’s not known for certain what inspired them. Coleridge told Thomas De Quincy they record Piranesi’s visions during a fever.
Designers wanted to put a dome on Rome’s Sant’Ignazio church, but neighbors complained of the shadow. So, instead, artist Andrea Pozzo painted this design on the flat ceiling.
When it’s viewed from the side (below), the church gets its dome after all.
Artist Elizabeth Shoumatoff commenced an oil portrait of Franklin Roosevelt at noon on April 12, 1945.
This is as far as she got. FDR was being served lunch when he said, “I have a terrific headache” — and collapsed of a massive cerebral hemorrhage.
“Corner House,” by Hungarian painter István Orosz (b. 1951).
“Illusion,” wrote Oscar Wilde, “is the first of all pleasures.”
There’s no mistaking a portrait by Giuseppe Arcimboldo — the Milanese painter represented his subjects as masses of flowers, vegetables, fruits, and fish. These personifications of the four seasons were composed between 1563 and 1573.
“False Perspective,” a 1754 engraving by William Hogarth.
“Whoever makes a DESIGN without the Knowledge of PERSPECTIVE,” he wrote, “will be liable to such Absurdities as are shewn in this Frontispiece.”
“Skill without imagination is craftsmanship and gives us many useful objects such as wickerwork picnic baskets. Imagination without skill gives us modern art.” — Tom Stoppard
Monet lost his vision, but not his hearing.
Beethoven lost his hearing, but not his vision.
There’s no chalice on the table in Leonardo’s Last Supper …
… but there is one on Bartholemew’s head (far left).