Time and time again, people have created unforgettable and truly iconic artistry. For hundreds of years, artists’ work has lived on past their time to continue to communicate ideas, create a sense of beauty, explore the power of words, to give us pleasure.
For over a hundred years, Cassius Marcellus Coolidge created a series of oil-on-canvas paintings that have outlasted many other paintings, universally known as “Dogs Playing Poker” (1903-1910). This artwork is timeless because it can be recognized in multiple settings and by people of all ages. My grandparents used to have one of the prints of the painting hanging in their room with the pool table. I used to play in the room, look at the painting, and then proceed to laugh.
According to an article on these paintings, “Coolidge’s images are undeniably adorable, and they don’t take themselves too seriously. Perhaps most importantly, they’re weird without being alienating—something that can be said about many masterpieces of commercial art, from Mr. Clean to Dos Equis’s Most Interesting Man in the World.” (1, Arn). This is why these paintings are not going anywhere anytime soon. They are simply a funny sight that people have enjoyed for a long time, and I know that people will continue to recognize and enjoy them. From greeting cards to poker room decor, these paintings are examples of art that are truly memorable.
In 1815, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote ‘Kennst du das Land?’, another timeless work of art, which bloomed into a song that greatly inspired others for many years. Goethe’s ‘Kennst du das Land?’ from his ‘Wilhelm Meister novel attracted the interest of many composers such as Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, and Liszt. Each wrote songs to the original German text in admiration of his work. In the “Letter of Bettina von Arnim to Johann Goethe, 1810”, Beethoven praises him, saying, “Goethe’s poetry moves me profoundly not only in what the poems say but in their rhythms.
The language itself is transcendent, as though raised on high by fairy spirits, and carries the very essence of harmony within itself, as though it were driving me to set it to music. And at that moment, that incandescent moment of inspiration, I can only let the melody flow out and escape me. I run after it.” (1, 105). Beethoven tried to take after Goethe in the way that Goethe tried to take after Shakespeare in his writing. His efforts led to years of people marveling over his works to this day. Even if Goethe’s poetic words eventually die off, his work will live on with the countless other artists that he has inspired.
Lastly, the most timeless piece of art that comes to mind comes from the infamous Vincent van Gogh. In June of 1889, the post-impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh painted “The Starry Night.” The oil on canvas painting is one of the most recognized paintings to this day. I even remember learning about this painting in my eighth-grade art class, and from there on, I found it to be magical. As a little girl, when I looked out at the night sky, I saw what he saw. The blue, the yellow, the movement of life around you, the town, the stars, the sky. All of these details are what he put together to capture the world. The swirling type of style he used made me feel the vibrations of his view of the nightlife around him.
At the time, I was a young aspiring artist, and I was determined to make other people feel what his painting made me feel. It was beyond anything I had ever seen before. I tried to create my own version of the painting by starting with multiple strokes of color that were very close together and traveled up and down the page. I could not match one of the most famous paintings in the world, but it is wonderful that he started the flame that made me try. Nowadays, I never paint or pursue any kind of art. But I can still remember the feeling he gave me when I saw “The Starry Night” for the first time.
An article revealed that the painting is “currently housed by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Starry Night has touched and inspired many people since its conception. In fact, some contemporary artists have even reproduced iconic pieces using original materials. These unique media include salt and spices, jelly beans, doorknobs, and embroidery.” (3, Shovova). I have also seen girls on social media paint a rendition of it on their eyelids. I am one of many that have fallen in love with the painting.
Ultimately, each of these pieces of artwork has an interesting context, fascinating history, and its own unique aesthetic. It’s no wonder they are still pertinent in this day and age. All of the artists have had a transcendent impact on the world of art and, equally, on the world as a whole.
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