Some of the most important objects by which I track my life are works of art. They represent where I’ve been, what I’ve seen, what has interested me, who I was with, etc.
I’ve been very fortunate to have traveled a good amount and to have seen some of the most amazing art collections in the world. When traveling in Europe with a friend a few years ago, we even used our art history class’s syllabus of important art works as a sort of checklist. Paris? Check David, Ingres, and Delacroix. Madrid? Check Velazquez and Goya. Florence? Check Michaelangelo, Raphael, and Da Vinci. Etc. Discovering these masterworks was really exciting and important to us at the time, as we were eager to take what we were seeing in class out to the larger world. To live what we’d already learned.
Now over a year out of college, back from another grand adventure in Europe, it’s exciting to encounter some of these images again. Last fall I interned at a company that archives images, and though I was charged with a somewhat tedious task of sorting slides of images, it was fun to discover works that I know or have seen in person or otherwise have a connection to. Some examples:
Now living in New York though, I am at no want for seeing great art. I’ve already been able to tick off many more works from my art history syllabus, and luckily, there is always more to discover.
If you’re starting your own art history expedition in New York, here are some great works of art not to be missed:
Metropolitan Museum of Art
- View of Toledo, El Greco
- The Harvesters, Pieter Bruegel the Elder
- Young Woman With a Water Pitcher, Johannes Vermeer
- Washington Crossing the Delaware, Emanuel Leutze
- Madame X, John Singer Sargent
Museum of Modern Art
- The Dance, Henri Matisse
- Starry Night, Vincent Van Gogh
- Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Pablo Picasso
- The Persistence of Memory, Salvador Dalí
These selections barely scrape the surface though of these two museums’ collections, let alone the dozens of other museums in New York. But it’s a start!