Saturday, December 1, 2007


Some say it's a great idea, creating a shorthand checklist for art lovers with time and money to kill, and others say it's a fool's errand. Either way, Jonathan Jones of the Guardian has a daunting assignment: naming the fifty great works of art one must see before dying. "The works of art that matter most," is how he puts it. So far, he's kicked off the project by presenting his top twenty works of art (listed below). Undoubtedly great works, even a casual art student could think of significant omissions and probably come up with another list entirely. Reducing the total artistic expression of mankind to any list may seem ludicrous (especially a short list), but as a parlor game it's kind of fun, like playing art history Trivial Pursuit. What would you add? What are your all-time favorite works of art? What works are most important?

To his credit, Jones is asking for your help, so send your suggestions to the Guardian. I understand the reaction has been intense. For my part, I miss certain favorites and balk at the slim representation of modern art. Something is happening out there -- in the studios and galleries, in the museums, something of value in the past fifty years of art -- but I get the feeling you don't know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?

Jonathan Jones' List

Jan van Eyck
, The Madonna of Chancellor Rolin, c.1435, Musée du Louvre, Paris
Caravaggio, The Burial of St. Lucy (1608), Museo di Palazzo Bellomo, Syracuse, Sicily
Rembrandt, Aristotle with a Bust of Homer (1654), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
San Rock Art, South African National Museum, Cape Town
Paul Cézanne, Mont Sainte-Victoire from Les Lauves (1904 - 6), Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow
Mark Rothko
, The Rothko Chapel (paintings 1965-66; chapel opened 1971), Houston, Texas
Michelangelo, Moses (installed 1545), Church of San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome
Leonardo da Vinci, The Adoration of the Magi, (c. 1481), Uffizi Gallery, Florence
Vermeer, View of Delft (c.1660-61), Mauritshuis, The Hague
Matthias Grünewald, The Isenheim Altarpiece (c.1509-15), Musée Unterlinden, Colmar, France
Hans Holbein, The Dead Christ, (1521-2), Kunstmuseum, Basel
Velázquez, Las Meninas (1656), Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid
Unknown, Funerary Mask of Tutankhamun (1333-1323BC), Egyptian Museum, Cairo
Jackson Pollock, One: Number 31, 1950, Museum of Modern Art, New York
Masaccio, The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise (c.1427), Brancacci Chapel, Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence.
Pablo Picasso, Guernica (1937), Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid
Titian, Danaë (c. 1544-6), Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples
Raphael, The School of Athens (1510-11), Stanza della Signatura, Vatican Palace, Rome
Unknown, Parthenon Sculptures ("Elgin Marbles"), c. 444 BC, British Museum, London
Henri Matisse, The Dance (1910), Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia

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