My Least Favourite Artworks

It’s all too easy for me to list my favourite artworks – I drafted a list earlier and made it to two dozen in less than ten minutes – so I thought it would be more of a challenge if I listed the artworks that, for whatever reason, I really don’t like. It’s not a reflection on the merit of the artist or artwork in question, it’s just an opinion – so if you don’t like what I have to say, that’s absolutely fine. It’s also not in any particular order.

Leonardo da Vinci – Mona Lisa

This, and a few of the others on my list, are a clear case of familiarity breeding contempt. I’ve seen so much of the Mona Lisa over the years, in varying versions, that I’m just sick of it. What’s the wry smile all about? Frankly, I couldn’t care less. It’s a lovely painting, well executed and technically masterful – but then so are a lot of other paintings, and some of them I like a whole lot more.

Vincent van Gogh – Sunflowers

Again, familiarity breeding contempt, which is a great shame here because I love van Gogh’s work as a rule. That said, what I did find interesting was that this isn’t the only version of Sunflowers he painted; a recent exhibition at the National Gallery had them all side by side, which must have been wonderful. It’s still not in my favourites list though.

Any Sculpture by Henry Moore

I used to work in a building that had one of his works in the forecourt. I remember it was large lump of bronze with a circular hole cut into it. I still find myself thinking about it and wondering what the point was. It seems that generally I’m not very good with modern art as this demonstrates. I’m quite sure it’s a superlative technical achievement, but it doesn’t seem to resonate with me.

Francis Bacon – Head I to Head IV

This series of paintings is simply horrible and that’s about the nicest thing I can say about it.

Sandro Botticelli – Birth of Venus

Back to my original theme, but I’ve found over the years that a lot of Renaissance painting which I used to love bores me a bit. I also dislike Venus’s faux coyness. I mean, she’s got her boobs out but trying to wrap her hair around the rest of her isn’t going to look modest, no matter how innocent she looks.

Most of Renoir’s paintings

Now this is slightly unfair because I do find his paintings very interesting to look at, but there is something chocolate boxy about his style that grates; the slightly gauzy finish to the work irritates me. This is why he’s one of my least favourite impressionists.

Gainsborough – The Blue Boy

I think it’s the blue satin that irks, but I find a lot of 18th century portraiture to be fairly tedious. I don’t know who half of the people are and while I’m sure they’ve earned the right to have their portraits painted by the finest artists of their time, I don’t find myself enthralled. Which is odd, because Gainsborough’s portrait of Mr and Mrs Andrews – which also features an awful lot of pale blue satin – is one that I rather enjoy, and I’ve no idea who they were either.

This list could go on (for some time) but this is a fairly good idea of how my mind works. I might get round to doing a list of my favourite half dozen or so, if I can get it to stop changing every time I look at it…


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