Wandering through a museum is almost spiritual for me, because art draws me in deep enough to momentarily disengage with the outside world and immerse myself in the emotion the artist is trying to evoke. I have a wish that someday, the work spaces I create have a similar effect on an art connoisseur – I envision them discussing why I chose one particular placement over another! It’s always hard to list all the artists and works that have impacted me. While I’ve already written about my top favourite masters from the Indian art scene, this time I’ve picked five international works that I revisit often.
“What I dream of is an art of balance.” – Henri Matisse
To lovers of Matisse’s work like me, it is all about the crude strokes, strong colour, and expressive language in his art. This particular work shown here resonates with his pursuit of balance when you note that he uses the window sill as a partition between the exterior view of the Parisian countryside and the interior view of the still life pumpkin. What strikes me here is how the painting captures dynamism and stillness in one frame, even with those crude strokes that I mentioned earlier.
One of the true founders of the Impressionist movement, Monet’s strokes may seem like chaos when examined independently. But the strokes come together so magnificently to create his signature perspective. This painting of a 19th century Parisian train station, thick with atmosphere and colour, is not just an optical experience for me – but a very tangible one. I can almost feel the steam and mist emanating from the canvas and drenching me, enveloping me with its vivid scene.
Known primarily as the creator of the well-known sculpture ‘The Thinker’, Rodin has a vast body of work that reflects his vigorous departure from the traditions of the time – which were formulaic and merely decorative. As creators of art, we subconsciously take inspiration from the ultimate creator, and ‘Hand of God’ captures that emotion – Rodin presents the figures of Adam and Eve cradled in God’s hand. Unfinished figures ‘materializing’ out of rough stone symbolize the process of artistic creation.
To me, early iterations of what evolved into modern furniture design are nothing short of art. The Eames couple worked in the fields of industrial and graphic design, fine art, and film; this multi-faceted approach informed their approach to furniture design. This version of the classic Eames’ Rocking Chair was commissioned by Herman Miller, another global pioneer in commercial furniture. I love this piece because it was the first wire chair designed by Ray and Charles, and later served as a prototype for their wildly popular plastic version of the same design.
“Isn’t life a series of images that change as they repeat themselves?” – Andy Warhol
“I don’t think art should be only for the select few,” Andy Warhol claimed, “I think it should be for the mass of the American people.” Warhol understood the superficiality of celebrity culture, marketing, and high art, and built on the emerging movement of Pop Art, using everyday, recognizable consumer goods and turning them into essential, exemplary works of contemporary art.
While of course I do love the sheer iconoclasm in his work, he was an optimist who celebrated modern and ‘futuristic’ life, while his contemporaries often captured the perceived decline of modern life. The above work – a semi-mechanism screen print of the popular soup brand – exemplifies all of this.