Amid the throngs of people surrounding Vincent van Gogh’s famous self-portrait lies a world of undiscovered treasures at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. This museum, along with others across the city, do well showing renowned pieces of art such as van Gogh’s Starry Night, and Monet’s Water Lilies. Yet these only scratch the surface of the world’s complete list of masterpieces. Here are five works of art that are often overlooked in the span of things, and why they should be recognised.
Two low-lit rooms branching off the giant maze of paintings at the Met best showcase these works, the lighting allowing the white pastel to jump off the gray paper. Where most artists of the time disagreed with the grainy, inexact nature of pastel, Degas mastered its texture and used the often bright colors to create mood and emotion.
This series of wall-size tapestries depicted a fictional story involving the hunt and eventual capture of a unicorn. The artist is unknown. These giant pieces create a kind of spectacle for visitors with their sheer size and detailed rendering. The fact that they span over several rooms adds to their intense presence.
Sherman’s photography display at the Museum of Modern Art all centres around her disguised as different characters. Sherman’s work is less about the detailed exactness of Renaissance painting, and more about what her works mean; making her work much more relatable than the typical “masterpiece”.
With the same energetic painting technique seen in Starry Night and Self Portrait, van Gogh painted a pair of old, worn shoes. This painting is really the best representation of his ability to take ordinary things and turn them into living objects through his painting and use of color.
While Water Lilies might be Monet’s most impacting piece to see in person, his next such would be Sunset. In person, he was able to make the tiny orange sun appear so bright it mimicked an actual light source. Truly a masterpiece.
While technical ability often takes precedence over art’s emotional factor, a work’s ability to convey a mood in the viewer is just as important. These five works of art are masterpieces in their own right because they do more than render people or objects; they evoke emotion. Great works of art don’t have to be found in an art history book, and are being made this very minute.