Modern art is a great chapter that incorporates art from the end of the 19th century when society undergoes a radical transformation. At this time, the so-called Avant-gardes began to develop and we detached from the figurative tradition that shaped the 1800s. Let’s discover some surprising facts about modern art.
The first movements related to modern art are pre-impressionism, impressionism, than realism. Other very important movements will follow, such as symbolism, expressionism, futurism, and cubism. Finally, surrealism: here is the long parable of modern art, which embodies so many artistic currents so different from each other.
Surprising Facts About Modern Art
Below, we have discussed some surprising facts about modern art with examples.
- La Gioconda has a value comparable to the 15% GDP of France. La Gioconda, also known as ‘The Mona Lisa,’ has an approximate value of 15% of France’s GDP according to Bloomberg’s data; that is, about 190 billion dollars. This figure was calculated based on the tourism income that the painting leaves to the French government in 5 years.
- It is known that around the time the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre in 1912, at least five fakes were sold posing as the real one.
- Contrary to popular belief, Vincent Van Gogh sold more than one painting in his life. As specialists from the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam explain, it is known that Van Gogh sold more than one of the 2,000 works that he made in his entire career. Although he did not sell many paintings (only 4 paintings are known), that is why that myth of the only painting has been kept alive.
- Who is the woman in ‘The Girl with a Pearl Earring’ by Johannes Vermeer? The so-called “Dutch Mona Lisa” is one of the most emblematic portraits of the 17th century and probably also in the entire history of art.
- Leonardo da Vinci was a vegetarian. There are indications that for at least part of his life, da Vinci was a vegetarian. By the way, Leonardo’s appreciation for animals was so great that he liked to buy caged birds in the markets and then release them.
- Of the 25 most expensive paintings ever sold at auctions, 5 are by Van Gogh, 4 by Picasso, and 3 by Jackson Pollock.
- In Vienna, Austria, there is a museum dedicated solely to counterfeits. The name of the place in question is “Museum of Art Fakes,” and in addition to entertaining, it partly seeks to raise awareness about how art impacts the masses.
- “La Piedad” is the only work that Miguel Ángel has signed. He regretted it as he considered it a fit of pride and vowed never to sign another work in his life.
- The marble slab that Michelangelo used to create the famous ‘David’ is recycled. The marble block used to create this famous Michelangelo sculpture was originally cut for use by Agostino di Duccio, some 40 years before David was completed. Initially destined for a Hercules sculpture in the Florentine Cathedral, after an argument with the parish priest, Di Duccio abandoned the project and the slab remained unused for several decades. Over the years, different artists tried to use the abandoned block. However, as the marble was so difficult to handle, everyone abandoned it. In the end, the stone ended up in the hands of Michelangelo in 1501 and everything else is history.
- Many of Botticelli’s famous paintings have the same model. To save money, Botticelli used the same woman as a model. Over the years, he learned her features and proportions, even going so far as to paint her without facing her. This practice was also common with many other Renaissance painters to speed up the work.
- Monet’s father wanted him to be a clothesline and not an artist. The family of the French painter Claude Monet did not approve of his career as a painter. His father, Claude Adolphe Monet, wanted his son to continue the successful family business of selling spices.
- There are several original versions of “El Grito.” Considered by many to be one of the most recognizable paintings in the art world, Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” has at least 5 different versions. The first versions were sketches made with oil pastel paintings in the early 1890s. Another version created with pastels was painted in 1896 and one with lithography in 1897. The last version (the painting that we all know) was painted in 1910.
- Picasso’s full name is… According to government records, the full name of Spanish artist Pablo Picasso is: Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Crispiniano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso.
- Salvador Dalí was expelled from two art academies. The first, from the San Fernando Academy (apparently due to a protest), and the second from the Madrid School of Fine Arts resulted from various indiscipline.
- Who are the couple from Grant Wood’s ‘American Gothic’? This famous painting, considered among the jewels of American art of the 20th century, portrays a couple of elders in front of their Gothic farmhouse. Although many would believe it was a royal couple, the painting people are Grant’s sister and her dentist. By the way, her mother was originally going to be the model, but because of how exhausting it was to stand so long in the sun, she decided to change her for her sister.
- Paul Gaugin worked on the construction of the Panama Canal. Throughout his life, the French painter Paul Gaugin traveled the world in search of unique adventures, even working for a time on the construction of the Panama Canal (in the French version) at the end of the 19th century.
- It is true that Frida Kahlo was born and died in the same house. On July 6, 1907, in the Coyoacán area south of Mexico City, in the famous “Blue House.” And he died in the same place on July 13, 1954, 47 years and 7 days later.
- The best-selling pigment for art is… The best-selling paint is titanium white (approximately 30% of total world oil paint sales). By the way, check out our article Is the color white a color?
- From 1912 to 1948, art was among the Olympic disciplines. Oddly enough, in the first Olympics of the modern era, art competitions handed out medals. Of course, they had to be works inspired by sport and competition.
- Visual artists are among the lowest-paid professionals in America. According to data from the U.S. employment office, the average visual artist earns between $ 18,000 to $ 25,000 a year. This makes the visual arts one of the lowest paying professions in the country.