Author Archives: beckchris

Thank You, Next: The Best of 2021

I’ve published meta-lists of the best films, albums, TV shows, and books of 2021.  I made these lists by combining numerous “best of” lists I found online.  Here are the links:

Best Films of 2021
Best TV Shows of 2021
Best Music of 2021
Best Books of 2021

The most popular and the most critically-acclaimed rarely line up and 2021 was no exception.  There was very little overlap between the bestselling films, books and music and the critics’ favorites.  An exception was television, where the critics and audiences seemed to appreciate the same shows.

For example, the top grossing movies globally were:

  1. Spider-Man: No Way Home (US, Jon Watts)
  2. The Battle at Lake Changjin (China, Chen Kaige, Tsui Hark & Dante Lam)
  3. Hi, Mom (China, Jia Ling)
  4. No Time to Die (UK/US, Cary Joji Fukunaga)
  5. F9 (US, Justin Lin)
  6. Detective Chinatown 3 (China, Chen Sicheng)
  7. Venom: Let There Be Carnage (US, Andy Serkis)
  8. Godzilla vs. Kong (US, Adam Wingard)
  9. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (US, Destin Daniel Cretton)
  10. Eternals (US, Chloé Zhao)

But the top critically-acclaimed films were:

1. Licorice Pizza (US, Paul Thomas Anderson)
2. Drive My Car
(Japan, Hamaguchi Ryūsuke)
3. The Power of the Dog (UK/US/New Zealand, Jane Campion)
4. Dune (US, Denis Villeneuve)
5. The Souvenir Part II (UK, Joanna Hogg)
6. The French Dispatch
(US, Wes Anderson)
7. Summer of Soul (US, Ahmir Khalib Thompson)
8. The Worst Person in the World (Norway, Joachim Trier)
9. Petite Maman (France, Céline Sciamma)
10. The Velvet Underground
(US, Todd Haynes)
11. The Card Counter (US, Paul Schrader)
12. Annette (France, Leos Carax)
13. The Green Knight (US/Canada, David Lowery)
14. The Lost Daughter (US, Maggie Gyllenhaal)

The most popular songs of the year were:

  1. Save Your TearsThe Weeknd ft. Ariana Grande
  2. MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)Lil Nas X
  3. LevitatingDua Lipa feat. Da Baby
  4. Blinding LightsThe Weeknd 
  5. drivers license Olivia Rodrigo
  6. good 4 uOlivia Rodrigo
  7. Kiss Me MoreDoja Cat ft. Sza 
  8. StayThe Kid Laroi ft. Justin Bieber
  9. PositionsAriana Grande
  10. PeachesJustin Bieber ft. Daniel Caesar & Giveon

But the most critically-acclaimed albums were:

  1. Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders, and the London Symphony OrchestraPromises
  2. Tyler, the CreatorCall Me if You Get Lost
  3. Dry CleaningNew Long Leg
  4. LowHey What
  5. Little SimzSometimes I Might Be Introvert
  6. Arlo ParksCollapsed in Sunbeams
  7. Olivia RodrigoSour
  8. The Weather StationIgnorance
  9. Japanese BreakfastJubilee
  10. TurnstileGlow On

For books, the story was similar.  Here are the year’s bestsellers (book published in 2021):

  1. Dog Man: Mothering Heights. By Dav Pilkey
  2. The Four Winds. By Kristin Hannah
  3. American Marxism. By Mark R. Levin
  4. The Last Thing He Told Me. By Laura Dave
  5. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse. By Charlie Mackesy
  6. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Big Shot. By Jeff Kinney
  7. A Court of Silver Flames. By Sarah J. Maas
  8. The Judge’s List. By John Grisham
  9. Twelve and a Half. By Gary Vaynerchuk
  10. The Real Anthony Fauci. By Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

The list of top critically-acclaimed books is very different:

1, Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty.  By Patrick Radden Keefe
2. Harlem Shuffle. By Colson Whitehead
3. Detransition, Baby. By Torrey Peters
4. Great Circle. By Maggie Shipstead
5. Crying in H Mart: A Memoir.  By Michelle Zauner
6. How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America.  By Clint Smith
7. A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance.  By Hanif Abdurraqib
8. Crossroads.  By Jonathan Franzen  
9. Hell of a Book. By Jason Mott
10. Cloud Cuckoo Land. By Anthony Doerr
11. No One Is Talking About This. By Patricia Lockwood
12. The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois.  By Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
13. Klara and the Sun.  By Kazuo Ishiguro
14. The Prophets.  By Robert Jones Jr.
15. Afterparties: Stories. By Anthony Veasna So

Personal Preferences: A Break from Meta-Lists

I spend most of my time on Make Lists, Not War compiling best-of lists made by other people into meta-lists.  I find this to be an enjoyable pastime – I always learn a lot making each meta-list, and the number of hits the website gets from folks around the world indicates that these lists are useful and/or interesting to other people.

But what about my personal best-of lists?  Like so many listers out there, I love to make lists of my favorites.  I keep running tallies of the books, films, and albums that I have rated 5/5 stars.  These lists are quite long (295 books, 266 films, and 245 albums).  Those lists are available on the website.  But recently I decided to make smaller lists of favorite albums and favorite books – I decided to limit myself to just 150 books and albums (I didn’t try this with movies – too painful).  So these aren’t all my favorites, just some of them.

Here are the links:

My 150 Favorite Albums
My 150 Favorite Books

If you want to see all my favorites, here are the links to my five-star rated books, movies and albums:

My Five-Star Books
My Five-Star Films
My Five-Star Albums 

Getting Closer to Now: The Revised Contemporary Artists Meta-List

I’ve revised the meta-list of contemporary artists (and selected works) by adding 10 more lists, bringing the total number of original source lists to more than 20.  I first created this meta-list in 2015 and a great deal has happened in the art world since then, so this new list has a lot more artists.  In fact, there are 44 new artists on the list, from all over the world.  Here are their names, dates, and countries where they have worked.  For each artist, I researched their more-often mentioned works of art by doing an informal Internet survey.  I have added these new works of art (there are several hundred) to my visual arts checklist and also to the geographical lists that tell where you can find the artwork.  Many of the listed artworks cannot be found in museums, but may be viewed at occasional exhibitions or installations, or at certain art galleries.

Here is the link for the revised list: Best Contemporary Artists.

Here are the 44 new artists on the list, organized chronologically by date of birth:

  1. Donald Judd (US, 1928-1994)
  2. Dan Flavin (US, 1933–1996)
  3. Christo and Jeanne-Claude (Christo Vladimirov Javacheff: Bulgaria/France, 1935-2020) (Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon: Morocco/France, 1935–2009)
  4. Eva Hesse (Germany/US, 1936–1970)
  5. Frank Stella (US, 1936- )
  6. Robert Smithson (US, 1938–1973)
  7. Gilbert and George (Gilbert Prousch: Italy/UK, 1943- )(George Passmore: UK: England, 1942- )
  8. Jörg Immendorff (Germany, 1945–2007)
  9. Sean Scully (Ireland/US, 1945- )
  10. Marina Abramović (Yugoslavia (Serbia)/Netherlands/France/Germany, 1946- )
  11. Chris Burden (US, 1946- )
  12. Luo Zhongli (China, 1948- )
  13. Barbara Kruger (US, 1949- )
  14. Jenny Holzer (US, 1950- )
  15. Julian Schnabel (US, 1951- )
  16. Günther Förg (Germany, 1952-2013)
  17. David Salle (US, 1952- )
  18. Carrie Mae Weems (US, 1953- )
  19. Albert Oehlen (Germany, 1954- )
  20. Robert Gober (US, 1954- )
  21. Christopher Wool (US, 1955- )
  22. Zhou Chunya (China, 1955- )
  23. Kerry James Marshall (US, 1955- )
  24. Rudolf Stingel (Italy/US, 1956- )
  25. Andy Goldsworthy (UK: England, 1956- )
  26. George Condo (US, 1957- )
  27. Luc Tuymans (Belgium, 1958- )
  28. Mark Wallinger (UK: England, 1959- )
  29. Grayson Perry (UK: England, 1960- )
  30. Mark Bradford (US, 1961- )
  31. John Currin (US, 1962- )
  32. Sarah Lucas (UK: England, 1962- )
  33. Liu Xiaodong (China, 1963- )
  34. Zeng Fanzhi (China, 1964- )
  35. Liu Wei (China, 1965- )
  36. Matthew Barney (US, 1967- )
  37. Mark Grotjahn (US, 1968- )
  38. Wolfgang Tillmans (Germany/UK, 1968- )
  39. Chris Ofili (UK/Trinidad & Tobago, 1968- )
  40. Cecily Brown (UK: England/US, 1969- )
  41. Jenny Saville (UK: England, 1970- )
  42. Adrian Ghenie (Romania/Germany, 1977- )
  43. Kehinde Wiley (US, 1977- )
  44. Njideka Akunyili Crosby (Nigeria/US, 1983- )

Here is my visual arts checklist: My Checklists – Visual Art

Here are the geographical lists with new items:
North America & South America
Africa, Asia & Australia




101 Favorite Cover Songs

The list focuses on pop, rock, R&B, country, and folk. I excluded classical, jazz, and blues covers, except in few cases where pop, rock or country artists covered a jazz standard or blues song.  The list is presented in chronological order.

  1.  That’s All Right (1954) – Elvis Presley.
    Original: Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup (1946).

2. Mystery Train
(1955) – Elvis Presley.
    Original: Junior Parker (1953).


3.  Hound Dog (1956) – Elvis Presley.
Original: Big Mama Thornton (1953).

4.  Twist and Shout
(1963) – The Beatles.
Originals: Top Notes (1961); The Isley Brothers (1962).

5.  Long Tall Sally
(1964) – The Beatles.
Original: Little Richard (1956).

6.  Not Fade Away
(1964) – The Rolling Stones.
Original: Buddy Holly (1957).

7.  It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue
(1966) – Them.
Original: Bob Dylan (1965).

8.  Try a Little Tenderness
(1966) – Otis Redding
Originals: Ray Noble & His Orchestra (1932); Bing Crosby (1933).

9.  Respect
(1967) – Aretha Franklin.
Original: Otis Redding (1965).

10.  Alabama Song
(1967) – The Doors.
Original: Lotte Lenya (1930).

11.  All Along the Watchtower
(1968) – Jimi Hendrix.
Original: Bob Dylan (1967).

12.  I Put a Spell on You
(1968) – Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Original: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (1956).

13. I Ain’t Superstitious
(1968) – Jeff Beck Group (w/ Rod Stewart).
Original: Howlin’ Wolf (1961).

14. With a Little Help From My Friends
(1969) – Joe Cocker.
Original: The Beatles (1967).

15. I Heard It Through the Grapevine
(1970) – Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Originals: Gladys Knight & the Pips (1967); Marvin Gaye (1968).

16. Proud Mary
(1970) – Ike & Tina Turner.
Original: Creedence Clearwater Revival (1969).

17. Will You Love Me Tomorrow
(1971) – Carole King.
Original: The Shirelles (1960).

18.  (I Know) I’m Losing You
(1971) – Rod Stewart.
Original: The Temptations (1966).

19.  One Way Out
(1972) – The Allman Brothers.
Originals: Elmore James (1960); Sonny Boy Williamson II (1961).

20.  Baby Don’t You Do It
(as Don’t Do It) (1972) – The Band.
Original: Marvin Gaye (1964).

21.  Baby Don’t You Do It
(1972) – The Who.
Original: Marvin Gaye (1964).

22. America
(1972) – Yes.
Original: Simon & Garfunkel (1968).

23. Take Me Home, Country Roads
(1973) – Toots and the Maytals.
Original: John Denver (1971).

24.  Willin’
(1974) – Linda Ronstadt.
Original: Little Feat (1971).

25. Angel from Montgomery
(1974) – Bonnie Raitt.
Original: John Prine (1971).

26.  Love Hurts
(1974) – Gram Parsons (w/ Emmylou Harris).
Original: The Everly Brothers (1960).

27.  I Shot the Sheriff
(1974)– Eric Clapton.
Original: Bob Marley & the Wailers (1973).

28.  When Will I Be Loved
(1975) – Linda Ronstadt.
Original: The Everly Brothers (1960).

29.  Stand by Me
(1975) – John Lennon.
Original: Ben E. King (1961).

30.  The Acid Queen
(1975) – Tina Turner.
Original: The Who (1969).

31.  Gloria
(1975) – Patti Smith.
Original: Them (1964).

32.  Runaway
(1977) – Bonnie Raitt.
Original: Del Shannon (1961).

33.  She’s Not There
(1977) – Santana.
Original: The Zombies (1964).

34.  Cocaine
(1977) – Eric Clapton.
Original: J.J. Cale (1976).

35.  (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
(1978) – Devo.
Original: The Rolling Stones (1965).

36.  Take Me to the River
(1978) – Talking Heads.
Original: Al Green (1974).

37.  I’m Gonna Love You Too
(1978) – Blondie.
Original: Buddy Holly (1957).

38.  Money
(1979) – The Flying Lizards.
Original: Barrett Strong (1959).

39.  I Want You Back
(1979) – Graham Parker.
Original: The Jackson Five (1969).

40.  Downtown
(1979) – The B-52’s.
Original: Petula Clark (1964).

41.  I Fought the Law
(1979) – The Clash
Originals: The Crickets (1960); Bobby Fuller Four (1965).

42.  Stop Your Sobbing
(1979) – Pretenders.
Original: The Kinks (1964).

43.  Tears of a Clown
(1979) – The English Beat.
Original: Smokey Robinson & the Miracles (1967).

44.  In the Midnight Hour
(1980) – Roxy Music.
Original: Wilson Pickett (1965).

45.  It’s Bad For Me
(1980) – The Roches.
Original: Ray Noble and His Orchestra (1933).

46.  Jealous Guy
(1981) – Roxy Music.
Original: John Lennon (1971).

47.  Absolutely Sweet Marie
(1983) – Jason and the Scorchers.
Original: Bob Dylan (1966).

48.  Baby It’s You
(1984) – Elvis Costello & Nick Lowe.
Original: The Shirelles (1961).

49.  Jersey Girl
(1984) – Bruce Springsteen
Original: Tom Waits (1980).

50.  I Got You Babe
(1985) – UB40 with Chrissie Hynde.
Original: Sonny & Cher (1965).

51.  Jump
(1985) – Aztec Camera.
Original: Van Halen (1984).

52.  Suspicious Minds
(1986) – Fine Young Cannibals.
Originals: Mark James (1968); Elvis Presley (1969).

53.  Venus
(1986) – Bananarama.
Original: Shocking Blue (1969).

54.  Peace Train
(1987) – 10,000 Maniacs.
Original: Cat Stevens (1971).

55.  Cupid
(1988) – Graham Parker.
Original: Sam Cooke (1961).

56.  Sweet Thing
(1988) – The Waterboys.
Original: Van Morrison (1968).                          

57.  I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry
(1988) – Cowboy Junkies.
Original: Hank Williams (1949).

58.  Walking After Midnight (1988) – Cowboy Junkies.
Original: Patsy Cline (1957).


59.  Sweet Jane (1988) – Cowboy Junkies.
Original: The Velvet Underground (1970).


60.  Lock, Stock & Teardrops (1988) – k.d. lang.
Original: Roger Miller (1963).

61.  Stand By Your Man
(1989) – Lyle Lovett.
Original: Tammy Wynette (1968).

62.  On Broadway
(1989) – Neil Young.
Original: The Drifters (1963).

63.  Just Like Heaven
(1989) – Dinosaur Jr.
Original: The Cure (1987).

64.  I Can See Clearly Now
(1990) Hothouse Flowers.
Original: Johnny Nash (1971).

65.  All Come True
(1990) – Rosanne Cash.   
Original: World Party (1986).

66.  Hey, Good Lookin’
(1990) – Buckwheat Zydeco (w/ Dwight Yoakum)
Original: Hank Williams (1951).

67.  Nothing Compares 2 U
(1990) – Sinead O’Connor
Original: Prince (1985).

68.  Androgynous
(1991) – Crash Test Dummies.
Original: The Replacements (1984).

69.  Mama Told Me Not to Come
(1991) – The Wolfgang Press.
Originals: Eric Burdon (1966); Three Dog Night (1970).

70.  Wild Horses
(1992) – The Sundays.
Original: The Rolling Stones (1971).

71.  Truckin’
(1992) – Dwight Yoakum.
Original: Grateful Dead (1970).

72.  Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon
(1992) – Urge Overkill.
Original: Neil Diamond (1967).

73.  Tenderness on the Block
(1992) – Shawn Colvin.
Original: Warren Zevon (1978).

74.  Something in the Air
(1993) – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Original: Thunderclap Newman (1969).

75.  Hallelujah
(1994) – Jeff Buckley.
Original: Leonard Cohen (1984).

76.  The Man Who Sold the World
(1994) – Nirvana.
Original: David Bowie (1970).

77.  Baby, Now That I’ve Found You
(1995) – Alison Krauss.
Original: The Foundations (1967).

78.  Our Little Angel
(1995) – Rosanne Cash.
Original: Elvis Costello (1986).

79.  Wrecking Ball
(1995) – Emmylou Harris.
Original: Neil Young (1989).

80.  Black Hole Sun
(1997) – Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme.
Original: Soundgarden (1993).

81.  Sleep Walk
(1998) – The Brian Setzer Orchestra.
Original: Santo and Johnny (1959).

82.  One
(1999) – Aimee Mann.
Originals: Harry Nilsson (1968); Three Dog Night (1968).

83.  Burning Down the House
(1999) – Tom Jones and the Cardigans.
Original: Talking Heads (1983).

84.  Travelin’ Prayer
(1999) – Dolly Parton.
Original: Billy Joel (1973).

85.  I Want You to Want Me
(2000) – Dwight Yoakum.
Original: Cheap Trick (1977).

86.  One
(2000) – Johnny Cash.
Original: U2 (1991).

87.  I Won’t Back Down
(2000) – Johnny Cash.
Original: Tom Petty (1989).

88.  Trouble Man (2000) – Rickie Lee Jones.
Original: Marvin Gaye (1972).

89.  Barrytown
(2000) – Ben Folds Five.
Original: Steely Dan (1974).

90.  Wish You Were Here
(2000) – Wyclef Jean.
Original: Pink Floyd (1975).

91.  Take Care
(2003) – Yo La Tengo.
Original: Big Star (1978).

92.  I’m So Excited
(2004) – Le Tigre.
Original: The Pointer Sisters (1982).

93.  Bird on a Wire
(2004) – k.d. lang.
Original: Leonard Cohen (1969).

94.  Sunrise
(2005) – Petra Haden.
Original: The Who (1967).

95.  Handle with Care
(2006) – Jenny Lewis, et al.
Original: The Traveling Wilburys (1987).

96.  Killing the Blues
(2007) – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
Original: John Prine (1979).

97.  Come On Up to the House
(2009) – Sarah Jarosz,
Original: Tom Waits (1999).

98.  Ring Them Bells
(2011) – Sarah Jarosz.
Original: Bob Dylan (1989).

99.  Words of Love
(2011) – Patti Smith.
Original: Buddy Holly (1957).

100.  The Great Curve
(2018) – Angelique Kidjo.
Original: Talking Heads (1980).

101.  Go Where You Wanna Go
(2018) – Jakob Dylan and Jade Castrinos
Original: The Mamas and the Papas (1965).

What are your favorite cover songs? Please share in the comments!

Pandemic Art Adventures: Commonwealth Avenue Mall

The closing of museums during the pandemic put me in a state of art withdrawal.  In search of a fix, I traveled to various locations in the Greater Boston area looking for publicly-accessible art.  On several days in June 2020, I wandered around downtown Boston, looking for public art. One day, I walked along the tree-lined Commonwealth Avenue Mall in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood and photographed the various statues and monuments along the way. The Mall was designed by Arthur Gilman, using the new boulevards of Paris as his inspiration, and was created between 1858 and 1888. The dominant trees were American elms, although many of them have succumbed to Dutch elm disease; other tree species include sweetgum, green ash, maple, linden, zelkova, and Japanese pagoda. Interestingly, public sculpture was not a component of Gilman’s original plan, although it is now a highlight of the Mall.

The tour begins at the Public Garden (Arlington Street) and moves west to finish at Charlesgate East. For more information and photos, check out the website of the Friends of the Public Garden.

Sculptor: William Rimmer

Born on the Caribbean island of Nevis (and thus not eligible to be president), Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804) helped draft the U.S. Constitution. He founded the Federalist Party, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the New York Post. He was George Washington’s secretary of the treasury and authored the nation’s early financial policies. He was killed in a duel with then-Vice President Aaron Burr.

Sculptor: Martin Milmore

A merchant and fisherman who was born in Salem, Massachusetts and lived in Marblehead, John Glover (1732-1797) served as a brigadier general during the American Revolutionary War. The regiment he commanded evacuated George Washington’s army after losing the Battle of Long Island, and ferried Washington and his troops across the Delaware to surprise Hessian forces at the Battle of Trenton.

Sculptors: Henry Kitson and Theo Alice Ruggles Kitson

Patrick Collins (1844-1905) was an Irish immigrant who became a prominent Boston politician. He served in the Massachusetts Legislature from 1868-1871, in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1883-1889 and as Mayor of Boston from 1902 until his death in 1905.

Sculptor: Theodore Clausen
Landscape Architect: Peter White 

The memorial honors the nine firefighters who were killed on June 17, 1972 in a fire at the Hotel Vendome, which was located across the street from the memorial.

Sculptor: Olin Levi Warner

The most prominent Boston abolitionist, William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879) published the anti-slavery newspaper The Liberator from 1831 until 1865 and was a co-founder of the American Anti-Slavery Society. He fought to give women the right to vote and supported other social reforms.  

Sculptor: Penelope Jencks

Boston-born Samuel Eliot Morison (1887-1976) was a Harvard professor and distinguished historian, who specialized in naval and maritime history.  Morison was also an accomplished sailor who recreated Columbus’s voyages using the original log books.

Sculptor: Meredith Bergmann

The Boston Women’s Memorial includes representations of Lucy Stone (left), Abigail Adams (center), and Phillis Wheatley (right).

Abigail Adams (1744-1818) was born in Weymouth, Massachusetts. She was married to second U.S. President John Adams and served as First Lady from 1797-1801. She served as informal advisor to John Adams, who consulted her on most matters. Abigail Adams was also the mother of sixth U.S. President John Quincy Adams.  Her letters are the source of important information about the early United States.

Massachusetts women’s rights activist Lucy Stone (1818–1893) was a public speaker and writer who helped to organize the first National Women’s Rights Convention and establish the Women’s National Loyal League and the American Women’s Suffrage Association. She was also an abolitionist who campaigned for the passage of the 13th Amendment.

An acclaimed poet, Phillis Wheatley (c. 1753-1784) was born in West Africa, sold into slavery and brought to Boston, where she was sold to the Wheatley family.  In 1773, she published Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, the first book of poetry published by an African-American, which received praise from many, including George Washington.  Following the publication of the book, Wheatley was emancipated.

Sculptor: Yvette Compagnion

Domingo Sarmiento (1811-1888) was an Argentine writer, intellectual, and politician who became the 7th president of Argentina, serving from 1868-1874. Sarmiento modeled his country’s education system on that of Boston’s Horace Mann, and Argentina gave this statue to the city in gratitude. 

Sculptor: Anne Whitney

Leif Eriksson (c. 970-c. 1020 CE) (also spelled Erikson) was a Norse explorer from Iceland, who may have been the first European to establish a settlement on continental North America. Some scholars believe that the settlement of Vinland described in Icelandic sagas corresponds to a Norse settlement, remains of which have been discovered in Newfoundland, Canada at L’Anse aux Meadows. The statue in Boston, which is the oldest public sculpture of Leif Eriksson in the U.S., was donated by patent medicine maker Eben Horsford, who mistakenly believed that Vinland was located on Boston’s Charles River.

For other Pandemic Art Adventures, check out these posts:

Brandeis University
Harvard University
Boston University
Boston Common
Boston Public Garden

My Kid Could List That: Introducing the Updated Art Lists

I’ve updated the Best Works of Art lists, both the ranked (with the artworks on the most lists at the top) and chronological versions. (The chronological version, in seven parts, is called Art History 101.) I’ve added a number of new lists to the meta-list and also changed the formatting somewhat. Hope you enjoy.

Here are the links:
Best Works of Art of All Time – Ranked, Part 1
Best Works of Art of All Time – Ranked, Part 2
Best Works of Art of All Time – Ranked, Part 3

Art History 101, Part 1 (Prehistory-399 CE)
Art History 101, Part 2 (400 CE – 1399)
Art History 101, Part 3 (1400 – 1499)
Art History 101, Part 4 (1500 – 1599)
Art History 101, Part 5 (1600 – 1799)
Art History 101, Part 6 (1800 – 1899)
Art History 101, Part 7 (1900 – Present)

I’ve done a little analysis of the entire artworks meta-list. There are a total of 555 artworks (actually more because some entries encompass series or artworks with multiple versions). There are artworks from Europe, Asia, Africa, North America and South America, although the vast majority are from Europe.

Here are the artists with the most works of art on the meta-list:

9 works of art
(The Netherlands, 1606-1669) paintings, prints

8 works of art
(Italy, 1475-1564) sculptures, paintings, architecture
Pieter Bruegel the Elder (The Netherlands, c. 1525/1530-1569) paintings

7 works of art
Leonardo da Vinci
(Italy, 1452-1519) paintings, drawings
Raphael (Italy, 1483-1520) paintings
Titian (Italy, 1488/1490-1576) paintings
Vincent van Gogh (The Netherlands, 1853-1890) paintings, prints

6 works of art
Albrecht Dürer
(Germany, 1471-1528) paintings, prints
Francisco Goya (Spain, 1746-1828) paintings, prints

5 works of art
Jan van Eyck (Belgium, before 1390/1395-1441) paintings
Piero della Francesca (Italy, c. 1415-1492) paintings
Peter Paul Rubens (Germany, 1577-1640) paintings
Diego Velázquez (Spain, 1599-1660) paintings
Gian Lorenzo Bernini (Italy, 1598-1680) sculpture, architecture
Claude Monet (France, 1840-1926) paintings
Pablo Picasso (Spain, 1881-1973) paintings, sculpture, collage
Jackson Pollock (US, 1912-1956) paintings

4 works of art
Donatello (Italy, c. 1386-1466) sculpture
Giovanni Bellini (Italy, c. 1430-1516) paintings
El Greco (Greece, 1541-1614) paintings
Caravaggio (Italy, 1571-1610) paintings
Johannes Vermeer (The Netherlands, 1632-1675) paintings
J.M.W. Turner (UK, 1775-1851) paintings
Édouard Manet (France, 1832-1883) paintings
Paul Cézanne (France, 1839-1906) paintings
Auguste Rodin (France, 1840-1917) sculpture
Georges Seurat (France, 1859-1891) paintings
Henri Matisse (France, 1869-1954) paintings, sculptures, prints

3 works of art
Phidias (Greece, c. 480-430 BCE) sculpture
Paolo Uccello (Italy, 1397-1475) paintings
Andrea Mantegna (Italy, c. 1431-1506) paintings
Hans Holbein the Younger (Germany, c. 1497-1543) paintings
Tintoretto (Italy, 1518-1594) paintings
Frans Hals (Belgium, c. 1582-1666) paintings
Jean-Antoine Watteau (France, 1684-1721) paintings
Théodore Géricault (France, 1791-1824) paintings
Paul Gauguin (France, 1848-1903) paintings, sculpture
Salvador Dali (Spain, 1904-1989) paintings; sculpture

Yes, it’s mostly men. Dead white men. I’m sorry. The contemporary art lists are more diverse. But there are a few works by women on the meta-list.

Works by Women Artists
Unknown Women Embroiderers: The Bayeux Tapestry (c. 1045)
Artemisia Gentileschi: Judith Beheading Holofernes (1611-1613)
Rosa Bonheur: Ploughing in the Nivernais (1849)
Mary CassattThe Child’s Bath (c. 1891)
Frida Kahlo: The Two Fridas (1939)
Helen Frankenthaler: Mountains and Sea (1952)

The artworks span many centuries. Here are the results by time period:

Artworks by Time Period:
28,000 BCE – 1000 BCE:  44
999 BCE – 1 BCE:               52
1 CE – 999 CE:                     35
1000-1099:                            4
1100-1199:                          13
1200-1299:                            6
1300-1399:                          10
1400-1499:                          77
1500-1599:                          61
1600-1699:                          54
1700-1799:                          29
1800-1899:                          81
1900-1999:                          79
2000-Present:                       1

Sound Effects: The Updated Album Meta-Lists

I’ve updated the Best Albums meta-lists to include the most recent Rolling Stone list of the 500 best albums. I also added the new albums from the latest edition of 1001 Recordings to Listen to Before You Die. The meta-lists include every album on three or more of the 35+ original source lists. Here are the links:

Best Albums of All Time – Ranked
Best Albums of All Time – Chronological
Best Albums of All Time – By Artist

Please forgive me for failing to update the number of lists the album is on in the Chronological and By Artist lists (provided in parentheticals). I’ll get to this eventually.

There are 27 new artists on the updated meta-lists:

1. Adele
2. Animal Collective
3. Anita Baker
4. Mary J. Blige
5. Boogie Down Productions
6. Cocteau Twins
7. Ornette Coleman
8. Earth, Wind & Fire
9. Elbow
10. Herbie Hancock
11. Howlin’ Wolf
12. Ice Cube
13. Janet Jackson
14. Kendrick Lamar
15. Cyndi Lauper
16. LL Cool J
17. Lynryd Skynyrd
18. George Michael
19. Charles Mingus
20. Motörhead 
21. Neutral Milk Hotel
22. Frank Ocean
23. Raekwon
24. Toots & the Maytals
25. Gillian Welch
26. Hank Williams
27. X-Ray Spex

The artists with the most albums on the meta-list are familiar names:

1. Bob Dylan: 11 albums
2. The Beatles: 10 albums
3. The Rolling Stones: 8 albums
4. Led Zeppelin: 7 albums
5. Bruce Springsteen: 6 albums
6. Neil Young: 6 albums
7. David Bowie: 5 albums
8. Jimi Hendrix: 5 albums
9. R.E.M.: 5 albums
10. U2: 5 albums
11. The Who: 5 albums

The Best of 2020: Films, TV, Music & Books

I’ve published the year-end meta lists for movies, TV, books and music. Here are the links:

Best Films of 2020
Best TV Shows of 2020
Best Music of 2020
Best Books of 2020

If you’re interested in my personal favorites from the year, I’ve set them out below. As you can see, I don’t normally focus on the most recent releases, but tend to watch, read, and listen to items from various time periods.

Favorite films watched in 2020:

Rated 10/10
The Life of Oharu (Japan, 1954) Dir: Kenji Mizoguchi
Cleo from 5 to 7 (France, 1962) Dir: Agnes Varda
Night of the Living Dead (US, 1968) Dir: George Romero
Songs from the Second Floor (Sweden, 2000) Dir: Roy Andersson
I’m Thinking of Ending Things (US, 2020) Dir: Charlie Kaufman

Rated 9/10
Au hasard Balthazar (France, 1966) Dir: Robert Bresson
Z (France, 1969) Dir: Costa-Gavras
W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism (Yugoslavia, 1971) Dir: Dusan Makavejev
The Passenger (Italy/France, 1975) Dir: Michelangelo Antonioni
Stalker (USSR, 1979) Dir: Andrei Tarkovsky
Paris, Texas (Germany/US, 1984) Dir: Wim Wenders
Come and See (USSR, 1985) Dir: Elem Klimov
Uncut Gems (US, 2019) Dir: Joshua & Ben Safdie
American Factory (US, 2019) Dir: Julia Reichert & Steven Bognar

Favorite books read in 2020:

The Faerie Queen (UK, 1590, 1596). By Edmund Spenser
King Lear (UK, 1605). By William Shakespeare
Tartuffe (France, 1664). By Moliere
Paradise Lost (UK, 1667). By John Milton
Two Treatises of Government and A Letter Concerning Toleration (UK, 1669). By John Locke
The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches (Japan, 1702). By Matsuo Basho
The Genius of the Later English Theater (UK, 1962). Edited by Sylvan Barnet
A Thousand Acres (US, 1991). By Jane Smiley.
Time’s Arrow (UK, 1991). By Martin Amis
Jazz (US, 1992). By Toni Morrison
Operation Shylock (US, 1993). By Philip Roth

Favorite TV shows watched in 2020:

The Queen’s Gambit
Call My Agent

Albums listened to most frequently in 2020

Father John Misty Pure Comedy (2017)
Bob DylanNo Direction Home: Bootleg Series Vol. 7
WaxahatcheeOut in the Storm (2017)
Charlie Musselwhite Sanctuary (2004)
Blind Lemon Jefferson Blind Lemon Jefferson (1925-1929)
David Bowie The Singles 1969-1993
PJ HarveyLet England Shake (2011)
St. Vincent Masseduction (2017)
Big Thief U.F.O.F. (2019)
KhruangbinCon Todo El Mundo (2018)
Steely DanCan’t Buy A Thrill (1972)
T-Bone WalkerThe Complete Imperial Recordings (1950-1954)
The New PornographersTwin Cinema (2005)
Brittany Howard Jaime (2019)
John Dowland Farewell, Unkind – Songs and Dances (2007) (Joel Cohen & Boston Camerata)
Count BasieComplete Decca Recordings (1937-1939)

Pandemic Art Adventures: Boston Public Garden

The closing of museums during the pandemic put me in a state of art withdrawal.  In search of a fix, I traveled to various locations in the Greater Boston area looking for publicly-accessible art.  On several days in June, I wandered around downtown Boston, looking for public art. I found quite a bit of art in Boston Public Garden, which I was able to identify either through plaques or an online search. Here are some photos and descriptions of what I discovered.

  1. The Ether Monument (1868)
The oldest artwork in the Public Garden, the Ether Monument (also known as the Good Samaritan Monument) is dedicated to the discovery of ether as an anesthetic in the 1840s. Although there is evidence that ether was used by Crawford Long in Georgia as early as 1842, the first public demonstration of ether anesthesia was conducted in 1846 at Massachusetts General Hospital (in what is now called the Ether Dome) by William T.G. Morton, a dentist, and Dr. John Collins Warren. The monument was designed by William Robert Ware and and sculpted by John Quincy Adams Ward in 1867 and was installed in 1868. The figures at the top represent the Biblical story of the Good Samaritan (see detail below).
Each of the four sides of the monument contains a relief sculpture. Shown about is an allegorical representation of the Triumph of Science.
A patient undergoing an operation in a civic hospital.
A solider undergoing surgery in a military field hospital.
The Angel of Mercy descending to relieve suffering humanity.

2. Equestrian Statue of George Washington (1869)

The Equestrian Statue of George Washington in the Public Garden was created by Thomas Ball and installed in 1869. Ball, a Charlestown, Massachusetts native, was an accomplished sculptor, painter and musician (voice).

3. Statue of Charles Sumner (1878)

Thomas Ball’s statue of Charles Sumner was erected in the Public Garden in 1878. Sumner served as a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts from 1851 to 1874. He was a member of the Radical Republican group that opposed slavery and supported harsh treatment of the Southern states after the Civil War.

4. Statue of Colonel Thomas Cass (1899)

An 1899 statue of Colonel Thomas Cass by Richard Edwin Brooks, a sculptor born in Braintree, Massachusetts. Born in Ireland, Thomas Cass commanded the 9th Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry on the Union side in the U.S. Civil War. He died in 1862 of wounds suffered in the Battle of Malvern Hill.

5. Wendell Philips Monument (1915)

Daniel Chester French created the monument to Boston abolitionist Wendell Phillips in 1915. In addition to his anti-slavery work, Phillips was a pioneer advocate for the rights of women and Native Americans.

6. George Robert White Memorial (1924)

The George Robert White Memorial, dated 1924, was created by Daniel Chester French. The central figure is the Angel of the Waters. White was a Boston business owner and philanthropist. He made significant charitable contributions to the City of Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts, and Massachusetts General Hospital. Details of the memorial are shown below.
The Angel of the Waters.
One of the ram’s head water spouts.

7. Statue of Tadeusz Kościuszko (1927)

Noted Boston-area sculptor Theo Alice Ruggles Kitson created this statue of Tadeusz Kościuszko in 1927. Kitson was the first female member of the American Sculpture Society. Kosciuszko was a Polish-Lithuanian military leader who served as a colonel with the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. His expertise as a military engineer (including overseeing fortifications at West Point, NY) led the revolutionaries to promote him to brigadier general.

8. Small Child Fountain (1929)

The Small Child Fountain, dating to 1929, was created by Mary Moore, a sculptor born in Taunton, Massachusetts.

9. Boy with Bird Fountain (1934, 1977, 1992)

The Boy and Bird Fountain, by Bashka Paeff, originally dates to 1934, but it was recast in 1977 and 1992. Paeff was born in Minsk (now Belarus) and lived and worked in the Boston area.

10. Make Way for Ducklings (1987)

Probably the most famous statues in the Public Garden are those memorializing the characters in Robert McCloskey’s 1941 book “Make Way for Ducklings.” The sculptures were created in 1987 by Boston-area artist Nancy Schön, who also made the statues of Winnie-the-Pooh and friends outside the Newton Public Library. At the time this photo was taken, someone had outfitted the ducklings in colorful knitted sweaters.

Pandemic Art Adventures: Boston Common

The closing of museums during the pandemic put me in a state of art withdrawal.  In search of a fix, I traveled to various locations in the Greater Boston area looking for publicly-accessible art.  On several days in June, I wandered around downtown Boston, looking for public art. I found quite a bit of art in Boston Common, which I was able to identify either through plaques or an online search. Sadly, the Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts Fifty-Fourth Regiment (1897) by Augustus Saint-Gaudens was undergoing renovations at the time of my visit so I was unable to get a photo of this remarkable sculpture.

The oldest work of art in Boston Common is the Brewer Fountain, designed by French sculptor Michel Joseph Napoléon Liénard. The original was created for the 1855 World’s Fair in Paris. This bronze cast was made in Paris and donated to the City of Boston by wealthy merchant Gardner Brewer. It was unveiled in 1868.  The figures at the base of the fountain represent Neptune, his wife Amphitrite (Neptune’s wife), the Nereid (sea-nymph) Galatea and her mortal lover Acis, whose story is told in Ovid’s Metamorphoses.
Above and below: detail of Brewer’s Fountain.


The Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Boston Common is a Civil War memorial designed by Martin Milmore and erected in 1877. It consists of a base and column (topped by an allegorical figure of America), freestanding statues (including a soldier, a sailor, and allegorical figures of Peace and History) and bas reliefs.
Detail of the base of the monument.
The Departure for War. One of the bas reliefs on the base of Martin Milmore’s Soldiers and Sailors Monument.
The Sanitary Commission, showing medical treatment at a Civil War battlefield, is another one of the bas reliefs.
The Return from the War: Massachusetts Governor John Andrew greets returning soldiers.


The Boston Massacre Monument (also known as the Crispus Attucks Monument, in honor of the first man killed in the massacre) was designed by Robert Adolf Kraus and erected in 1888. The main figure is an allegory of the Spirit of the Revolution, who is holding a broken chain and standing on a broken British crown, along with an eagle about to take flight.
A bas relief on the Boston Massacre Memorial shows the massacre itself taking place in front of the Old State House, with the body of Crispus Attucks at front center.


The Declaration of Independence Tablet, by John Francis Paramino includes a sculpted eagle, a bas relief, and a complete replica of the original Declaration of Independence, with signatures. It was erected on the Tremont Street side of Boston Common in 1925.
Detail of the tablet showing the bas relief, which appears to be based on John Trumbull’s 1817 painting.


The Founders Memorial was designed by John Francis Paramino and was erected on the Beacon Street side of Boston Common in 1930. The bas relief on the Founders Memorial shows Rev. William Blaxton greeting John Winthrop, Ann Pollard, and others. At left, several Native Americans (probably members of the Massachusett people) observe. There is also a female allegorical figure of Boston at right.


The Commodore John Barry Memorial, by John Francis Paramino, was erected in Boston Common in 1949. Extensive restorations were completed in 1977.


A 1959 plaque with a relief portrait of Boston businessman Edward A. Filene – department store owner, credit union founder and philanthropist was made by George Aarons and erected on Boston Common in 1959.


Parkman Plaza in Boston Common was designed by Arcangelo Cascieri and Aido di Biccari in 1961. Adorning the plaza are statues with allegorical figures representing Religion, Industry, and Learning (show in detail below).


Above: Two of the frogs, which were sculpted by David Phillips in 2003. Below: another of the frogs (I don’t think the glove was part of the original sculpture…).