50 famous paintings and their stories | Entertainment
A picture is worth a thousand words, and like texts, art is often meant to be “read” through critical deconstruction. Paintings can be much more complicated than they appear at first glance and difficult to decipher if the viewer does not speak the same language. Iconography – the symbolic language of a given work of art – can be sophisticated and complex, reflecting collective consciousness or drawn from the artist’s personal experience. Why does someone avoid the written word in favor of paint and canvas? 20th century American artist Edward Hopper seems to have had the answer. “If I could say it in words,” he said, “there would be no point in painting.”
The stories that works of art tell – and about them – are literally novels. Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” inspired the novel of the same name by author Tracy Chevalier. The book was then made into a movie starring Scarlett Johansson. Almost 40 years after Irving Stone wrote his biographical account of the life of Michelangelo, “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown turned the life and work of the Renaissance master into an adventure through the previous millennia.
September 13, 2019, announces the big film release of the latest representative of the genre: “The Goldfinch”, based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Donna Tartt. The book centers on the fictional theft of the eponymous painting by Dutch artist Carel Fabritius after an explosion rocked the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Ironically, Fabritius died in a devastating gunpowder explosion in 1654, shortly after completing his most memorable job. The success of Tartt’s book elevated “The Goldfinch” to rockstar, beset by crowds determined to see the little bird tied by a delicate chain. [Note: Fabritius’ painting is not featured in Stacker’s gallery.]
Stacker has curated this list of some of the world’s most famous images and the compelling stories behind them. Scroll down and find out which paintings scandalized Paris, were looted by the Nazis, and inspired a hit Broadway musical.
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