The Most Important Paintings in History

As subjective as the world of art may be, there are certain paintings which had more of an impact on how artists see the world, and we view their work, than others.

Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans

Sometimes referred to as 32 Campbell’s Soup Cans, this piece was produced by Andy Warhol between November 1961 and March or April 1962. It consists of 32 canvases, each measuring 51X41 centimetres and depicting a painting of Campbell’s soup can. The individual paintings were produced via printmaking, a semi-mechanised screen-printing process using a non-painterly style. Its reliance on themes from popular culture helped to usher in Pop Art as a major movement in the USA.

Francisco Goya’s Saturn Devouring His Son

According to more traditional interpretations, Saturn Devouring His Son depicts the Titan Cronus myth. He feared that one of his children would overthrow him, so he ate each one as they were born.

It’s one of 14 Black Paintings that Goya created on the walls of his house between 1819 and 1823. It was only transferred onto canvas after the artist died in 1828 and is now held in Madrid’s Museo Nacional del Prado. It stands as one of the most horrific images in the history of European art.

Grant Wood’s American Gothic

Housed within the Art Institute of Chicago’s collection, inspiration for the painting also known as the American Gothic House came to Grant in Eldon, Iowa. He said he brought the kind of people he imagined would live in the house to life.

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Kazimir Malevich’s Black Square

The Ukrainian Malevich has been credited as the man who gave the world Suprematism, an art movement which focuses on basic geometric forms like circles, lines, rectangles, and squares painted in a limited range of colours. Black Square is this style’s most perfect example.

Pablo Picasso’s Guernica

Guernica is a large oil painting created in 1937 by Pablo Picasso and stands as one of the trailblazer’s most important works, and one of the most moving and powerful anti-war protest paintings ever created. It is housed in Madrid’s Museo Reina Sofía.

Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus

The Birth of Venus was probably created in the mid-1480s. It depicts the goddess Venus arriving onshore after her birth when she emerged fully-grown from the sea. The artwork is housed in Florence, Italy, in the Uffizi Gallery. It’s become a mark of 15th Century Italian painting, rich in meaning and allegorical references to ancient times.

Vasily Kandinsky’s Composition 8

Kandinsky, 1866 to 1944, spent his lifetime trying to create the perfect combination of shapes and colours to try and communicate to others how he saw and experienced the world. Generally considered to be the pioneer of abstract art, modern researchers believe that he was, in fact, suffering synaesthesia, a condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to involuntary experiences in a secondary sense or cognitive pathway.