10 artworks you need to know
When we think about the ‘must see’ of international art and culture, we imagine those long art history classes or stories that were told by our ‘artists’ friends about the mysteries behind the ‘Mona Lisa’ or the diverging periods of Picasso’s works. However, there are other iconic artworks, equally or even more special than the old renaissance or modern classics, waiting to be seen in a far most contemporary context.
Let’s begin this selection with some important information: All artworks from this list can be visited and are more recent than ‘Guernica’.
1. Jeff Koons – ‘Ballon Dog’ (1994-2000)
Jeff Koons ‘balloons’ are the first ‘must see’, especially because, in fact, they are not balloons, but plated stainless steel. If you are thinking about visiting Paris, the ‘Centre Pompidou’ is an obligatory place to visit to get to know live this and others incredible contemporary expressions.
2. Claes Oldenburg & Coosje van Bruggen – ‘Plantoir’ (2001)
One of the most iconic features of Claes Oldenburg’s work is transforming daily objects into gigantic sculptures and incorporating them in public spaces. The perfect example is ‘Plantoir’, which can be visited at the gardens of the Fundação de Serralves, Oporto.
3. Andy Warhol – ‘Campbell’s Soup Cans’ (1962)
How can we talk about iconic artworks without mentioning the king of ‘Pop Art’? Andy Warhol, whose greatest desire was to be a machine [‘ I want to be a machine’], named is work studio ‘factory’, and has surrounded himself by dozens of assistants, in order to recreate the feeling. This ‘Campbell’s Soup Cans’ is a milestone in its portfolio and can be visited at MoMa, New York.
4. Anselm Kieffer – ‘Aurora’ (2009)
Anselm Kieffer’s work is filled of history and layers of plaster, resin, oils and acrylics. This artwork is not an exception. In this ‘Aurora‘ you can even see a boat stuck on the canvas! This artwork is exhibited at Galeria Mário Sequeira, Braga.
5. Damien Hirst – ‘London’ (2014)
Créditos da imagem Damien Hirst
The most recent artwork from Damien Hirst does not resemble to a shark with formalin inside a showcase but it is also interesting. This artwork that pictures London is one of the ‘Black Scalpel Cityscapes’, a series of paintings made with surgical objects. ‘London’ is exhibited at White Cube, São Paulo.
6. Ai Weiwei – ‘Coloured Vases’ (2007-2010)
“Coloured vases” by Ai Weiwei are not a DIY home bricolage recreation but urns from the ‘Han’ Chinese dynasty ( 220 – 206 b.C), dipped in paint. This sculpture is on exhibition at Saatchi Gallery, London. We advise you to hurry up your visit before someone breaks another pot.
7. Richard Serra – ‘The Matter of Time’ (2005)
This set of artworks by Richard Serra began as single sculptures, ‘Snake’, composed by a trio of winding steel sheets. Subsequently, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao has incorporated this artwork in a new work from Serra, ‘The Matter of Time’, which consists in eight imposing sculptures between three and four meters height. This artwork is (obviously) exhibited at Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
8. Keith Haring – ‘Crack is Wack’ (1986)
via Keith Haring
This artist started by making chalk drawings inside New York’s subway walls, but quickly landed in galleries and museums. As an assumed activist, Keith Haring’s themes addressed homosexuality, eroticism and social issues. ‘Crack is Wack’ represent the time when crack became a serious problem in NY, and it can be found at a handball field in 128th Street & 2nd Avenue.
9. Anish Kapoor – ‘Cloud Gate’ (2004-2006)
via Anish Kapoor
This artwork from Anish Kapoor was entitled ‘The Bean’ due to its shape. Inspired by mercury in its liquid state, this artwork is a tourist lure, an elected spot for creative photography, since it allows many possibilities for a creative photo. You can see and take your selfie at AT&T Plaza, Millennium Park, Chicago.
10. Kara Walker – ‘The Means to an End: A Shadow Drama in Five Acts’ (1995)
Kara Walker works with black and white cut outs of silhouettes. Though apparently simple it encrypts complex messages. This artwork became particularly controversial, since it portrays racism and the violent history of black community. This artwork is at the Honolulu Museum of Art, Hawaii.
Although these 10 artworks are a beautiful compilation, there are only a few examples of thousands of tendencies of contemporary art. In fact, the effort should be aimed to know as much variations possible. The economic resources excuse is not an option…Even if we can’t travel to visit all the “must-see” museums and galleries the internet is the perfect resource to keep up with the art world. So, let’s get down to work!