10 of the Most Famous Paintings at the Cleveland Museum of Art
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You’ve probably seen copies of this hanging in half of the reception offices you’ve ever been in, but the real thing is so much bigger than you could imagine; Cleveland only has one panel, too. Although this is one of the most famous of Monet’s paintings, you can find a smattering of Monet's other works scattered around this center focal point.
Salvador Dalí may be the hallucinogen-taking college kid’s artist of choice, but the symbolism and intricacy contained within his works is no drugged-out bullshit. It’s amazing that we have one of the eccentric Spaniard’s surrealist works in our own collection. Read up on the meaning behind this one yourself when you see it; we won’t spoil it for you.
A toupee-wearing tiger is chowing down hard on an ill-fated buffalo in this classic by the French artist Henri Rousseau. The buffalo’s expression is eerily complacent, as if he has already accepted his death beneath bunches and bunches of bananas. Although this painting isn’t currently on display, it might be back up the next time you pay a visit to the museum.
Known for his ghoulish and pale figures, the famous El Greco (“The Greek”) has taken a sort of Haunted Mansion
-esque take on the classic iconography of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus. A storm looks as if it’s a-brewin’ behind the family portrait, while Mary gazes off in the distance looking like a sunken-in Anne Hathaway
and Jesus grabs a snack. If you’re into his creepy style, another El Greco hangs next to this one.
A pleasant one to take in, Frederic Edwin Church’s scene of a Maine sunset evokes a desire to get off your ass and take an evening hike — just pure sunset in the days before Instagram-filtered landscapes and people vying for as many likes as they can get on social media. Take a second to admire it as we’re halfway through our virtual tour. (A bench used to sit in front of this one for just that purpose but, alas, it’s been replaced by a sculpture.)
Ah, youth. Can you guess what they just did?! Cupid’s look of adolescent glee as he almost appears to be easing himself up for a post-coital smoke says it all in this depiction of the myth of Cupid and Psyche. With an almost cherubic face, Cupid’s delight at his conquest is evident, while his lady friend Psyche seems calmly pleased herself.
The mysterious Italian artist Caravaggio is known for his excruciating attention to detail and lighting, and we’re lucky enough to have one of his paintings in our own backyard. A withered St. Andrew hangs from a cross as others look on with expressions of wonder. This piece’s display has a unique twist, too: you can watch it being painstakingly restored from June to September in an exhibition near the front entrance to the museum.
As a culture, we’ve been inundated with pop art-themed stuff for decades; you can blame Andy Warhol for that one. Check out one of his most iconic works in person: 100 Marilyn Monroes beaming down in varying shades, their expressions as sultry as ever. Each face, though, is slightly different and warped, and the harder you stare at them, the freakier they become. Enjoy!
The name Picasso often evokes a picture of disorganized and just plain weird imagery, but during his Blue Period, Picasso applied strokes of realism to his usually out-there creations. In La Vie, a man stands in a Tarzanian loin cloth, seemingly giving the “oh no you didn’t” finger to the woman with a baby standing opposite him, while a naked gal drapes her arms around his shoulder… OK, it’s definitely still weird, but this is arguably one of Picasso’s most studied and important works.
A quintessential Midwest scene unfolds in this WWII-era painting. The contrast between the gray sky and the fields is stark at the crossroads, and a storm is certainly on the rise (Maybe Mary and the rest of the holy fam are around!). There’s a lot of symbolism behind this one, too, but we’ll let you figure that out for yourself when you make your summer visit to the CMA.