Author Archives: beckchris

My Life at the Movies: 2010-2019

I spend so much time compiling other folks’ lists into meta-lists that sometimes I forget to have my own opinions. So here is a link to a list of my personal favorite movies of the 2010s decade. Please note that this list may grow as I see more movies in the coming years.

Favorite Movies of the 2010s

I haven’t seen that many 2019 movies, but here are my favorites so far:

The Souvenir (US/UK, 2019) Dir: Joanna Hogg
The Irishman (US, 2019) Dir: Martin Scorsese
Marriage Story
(US, 2019) Dir: Noah Baumbach
Parasite (South Korea, 2019) Dir: Bong Joon-ho
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (US, 2019) Dir: Quentin Tarantino
Atlantics (Senegal/France/Belgium, 2019) Dir: Mati Diop
The Last Black Man in San Francisco (US, 2019) Dir: Joe Talbot

Just in case you wanted to know my least favorite films of the decade, here is a list:

Inception (2010)
Source Code (2011)
House at the End of the Street (2012)
The Endless (2017)

The Best of the 2010s: A Decade in Review

As 2019 comes to a close, various publications and critics have put out their Best of the Decade lists in film, music and literature. As is my wont, I have collected these lists and compiled them into meta-lists for your convenience. Here are the links to the meta-lists for best movies, best books and best music (albums and songs) of the 2010s:

Best Films of the 2010s
Best Books of the 2010s
Best Music of the 2010s – Albums
Best Songs of the 2010s

Too busy to click on the links? Need some information right away? Here are some sneak peeks at the top items on the lists:

FILMS
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Moonlight (2016)
Get Out (2017)
The Social Network (2010)
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
Lady Bird (2017)
Under the Skin (2013)
Inception (2010)
Boyhood (2014)
Parasite (2019)

BOOKS
Fiction
THE NEAPOLITAN NOVELS (2011-2014). By Elena Ferrante. Translated by Ann Goldstein  
AMERICANAH (2013). By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
THE GOLDFINCH (2013). By Donna Tartt 
THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD (2016). By Colson Whitehead
A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD
 (2010). By Jennifer Egan 
STATION ELEVEN (2014). By Emily St. John Mandel   
THE SYMPATHIZER (2015). By Viet Thanh Nguyen 
HOMEGOING (2016). By Yaa Gyasi

Nonfiction
BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME (2015). By Ta Nehisi Coates
THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS (2010). By Rebecca Skloot 
JUST KIDS (2010). By Patti Smith 
THE ARGONAUTS (2015). By Maggie Nelson 
THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES: A Biography of Cancer (2010). By Siddhartha Mukherjee 
THE WARMTH OF OTHER SUNS: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration (2010). By Isabel Wilkerson
WILD: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (2012). By Cheryl Strayed 
BAD FEMINIST: Essays (2014). By Roxane Gay 
H IS FOR HAWK (2015). By Helen MacDonald    

MUSIC
Albums
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly (2015)
Beyoncé
 – Lemonade (2016)
Solange – A Seat at the Table (2016)
Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
Robyn
 – Body Talk (2010)
Frank Ocean – Channel Orange (2012)
David Bowie – Blackstar (2016)
Rihanna – ANTI (2016)
Arcade Fire
 – The Suburbs (2010)
Frank Ocean – Blonde (2016)
Kendrick Lamar – DAMN. (2017)
Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour (2018)

Songs
Dancing on My Own – Robyn (2010)
Royals – Lorde (2012)
Formation – Beyoncé (2016)
Hotline Bling – Drake (2015)
Alright – Kendrick Lamar (2015)
Runaway – Kanye West (ft. Pusha T) (2010)
We Found Love – Rihanna (ft. Calvin Harris) (2011)
Rolling in the Deep – Adele (2011)
Video Games – Lana Del Rey (2011)
Everything Is Embarrassing – Sky Ferreira (2012)
Oblivion – Grimes (2012)
Old Town Road (Billy Ray Cyrus remix) – Lil Nas X (2019)




The Best of 2019: Books, Music, Movies & TV

Every year in December, various publications and websites announce their best of the year lists in various categories, and every December I collect those lists and combine them into meta-lists.  Usually I make lists of best books, movies and music (albums), but this year I added TV shows, in acknowledgement that we are in a period of unprecedented quality in television.  Here are the meta-lists for 2019:

Best Films of 2019
Best Books of 2019
Best Music of 2019
Best TV Shows of 2019

Check, Please: The Arts Checklists

One of the reasons I started making lists was to figure out what movies to watch, music to listen to, and books to read.  There is so much out there and more gets produced every year.  How do you decide how to spend your limited time and energy?  My primary goal was to increase the likelihood that I would be getting high-quality material and reduce the chances that I would be wasting my time with dreck. I also wanted to avoid getting into a rut of sameness – I wanted to explore new artistic visions, not just those I was familiar with already.  I concluded that the best way to achieve my goals was to collect lists made by critics, academics and other experts of what they considered the best in each category.  I might disagree with any particular individual’s taste, but if a consensus of critical opinion formed around a book, movie, recording, or any other work of art, then there was a good chance it was worth spending my time and money on it. This process has worked very well for me for nearly 20 years now. I still have my disagreements with the critics and my own personal preferences, but going through the lists has given me huge rewards – intellectually and emotionally – and has exposed me to works of art that I never would have discovered on my own.

As I have made this journey through the arts, I found myself wanting to keep track of my progress through the meta-lists I had made. So I put together giant lists in four categories: (1) literature; (2) visual art and architecture; (3) music; and (4) film.  This lists are aggregations of various other meta-lists on the Make Lists, Not War website.  Then I began checking off the books, stories and poems I’d read, the works of visual art I’d seen, the music I’d listened to; and the movies I’d seen. I couldn’t figure out how to do an actual checklist, so instead I just highlight the items I’ve seen/heard/read in blue.  I keep a running tally at the bottom of each list.  The lists for books, movies and music get longer every year as I do my end-of-year meta-lists.  I don’t think I’ll ever finish any of these lists – that’s not the point – but it’s fun to keep track of what I’ve already checked off.

Here are the links to my checklists. I’ve also included the total number of items, the number I’ve checked off so far and the overall percentage:

My Checklists – Film  Total: 2,012.  Seen: 1,195.  Percentage: 59.3%
My Checklists – Music  Total: 2,001.  Listened to: 1,152.  Percentage: 57.5%
My Checklists – Literature  Total: 3,520.  Read: 1,427.  Percentage: 40.5%
My Checklists – Visual Art  Total: 2,897.  Seen: 391.  Percentage: 13.4%

You can use these lists too. All you have to do is cut and paste the list, get rid of all the blue highlighting and start to go through the list on your own.  Make sure to keep the items numbered to make it easier to do a tally of the ones you’ve checked off.

Know What I Like: My Five-Star Films, Books & Albums

One of the occasional challenges of running a meta-list website is having to explain to people that the rankings on the meta-lists are not my personal opinions.  I compile these meta-lists after collecting lists made by other people and combining them; the more original source lists an item is on, the higher it is on the meta-list ranking.  I do keep my own personal lists of favorites, but I don’t include them in the meta-lists, because I prefer to focus on lists created by academics, critics and other experts, not the average person.

But for those who are curious about my own personal opinions, I am providing the links to my lists of favorite movies, books and albums:

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

Why five stars instead of Top 100 or some other defined number? Well, if you love books, movies, and music as much as I do, and you’ve ever had to come up with a Top 10, Top 25 or even Top 100 list, you know how painful it can be to cut your list of favorites down to the required number.  Many years ago I decided that this pain is unnecessary. I have many more than 100 favorite books, albums and movies and I don’t see the point of eliminating items from the list just because of an arbitrary number.  My approach is to rate every film I see, book I read and album I listen to on a 1-5 or 1-10 basis.  Then the list of favorites makes itself, with no pain: every item that I rated five out of five (or 10 out of 10) stars goes on the list, with no numerical cutoff.  There is also no worrying about whether you like the number 1 item more than the number 2 item and so on.  Everything with five stars is a winner – there’s no competition among equals. The resulting lists, although considerably longer than Top 100 lists, depict my tastes and interest much more accurately than any arbitrary Top 10 or Top 100 list could ever do.

 

The Reel Deal: The New Improved Best Movies List

It’s been several years since I’ve updated the Best Films of All Time lists, but I found the inspiration to do the update in a new book, The New York Times Book of Movies: The Essential 1,000 Films to See, edited by movie critics Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott.  I added that book’s list to the existing best movies meta-list, as well as a number of other recent lists I found online. The movie meta-list now contains over 25 lists of the best movies of all time.  I’ve made three versions of the new meta-list: one is organized by rank (that is, with the movies on the most lists at the time); one is organized chronologically; and the third version is organized by director (listed in order of birth date).  Here are the links:

Best Films of All Time – Ranked
Best Films of All Time – Chronological
Best Films of All Time – By Director

There are many excellent movies on the meta-list and a few that I don’t think deserve to be there.  There are a number of movies (and movie directors) missing from the meta-list that should be there.  There is also a bit of a cultural bias:  the meta-list is skewed heavily towards American films, and most of the foreign-language films on the list are from Western Europe, although there is a significant contingent of films from Asia (particularly Japan). There is only one African film on the list, for example, and the absence of at least one movie by Senegalese director Ousmane Sembène is shocking. Other well-known and/or well-respected directors who didn’t make the list include: Tim Burton, Todd Solondz, Darren Aronofsky, Catherine Breillat, Baz Luhrmann, and Kathryn Bigelow. (At least some of these directors – including Sembène – are on a separate list of the best film directors and their best films.) Despite these flaws, I think this is a very interesting list and well worth reading. 

As I often need to explain, this meta-list does not reflect my personal opinions of the best movies, although I do keep track of my favorite movies in a separate list.  Just for fun, I decided to compare my list of 253 favorite movies with the meta-list.  Most of my favorites (198 out of total 253) are on the meta-list. It is interesting to see which of my favorites didn’t make the meta-list.  Most of the movies on my list that are not on the meta-list fall into one of four categories: (1) short films (including animated shorts); (2) offbeat picks by well-respected directors; (3) documentaries; and (4) very recent films.  I’m not surprised by the number of my favorite recent films that are not on the meta-list; critics don’t tend to put very recent films on “best movies of all time” lists – they want to wait and see if the films of the past few years stand the test of time.  Here are 53 films I’ve rated 10/10 that are not on the meta-list of best films of all time:

Shorts

  1. The Pawnshop (US, 1916) Dir. Charles Chaplin
  2. One A.M. (US, 1916) Dir: Charles Chaplin
  3. One Froggy Evening (US, 1955) Dir: Chuck Jones
  4. What’s Opera, Doc? (US, 1957) Dir: Chuck Jones
  5. Cosmic Ray (US, 1962) Dir: Bruce Conner
  6. Ruka (The Hand) (Czechoslovakia, 1965) Dir: Jiří Trnka
  7. De Düva: The Dove (US, 1968) Dir: George Coe & Anthony Lover
  8. The Wrong Trousers (UK, 1993) Dir: Nick Park

Offbeat Picks by Well-Respected Directors

  1. The Virgin Spring (Sweden, 1960) Dir: Ingmar Bergman
  2. The Trial (France, 1962) Dir: Orson Welles
  3. Darling (UK, 1965) Dir: John Schlesinger
  4. Women in Love (UK, 1969) Dir: Ken Russell
  5. Swept Away… (Italy, 1974) Dir: Lina Wertmüller
  6. 3 Women (US, 1977) Dir: Robert Altman
  7. Return of the Secaucus Seven (US, 1980) Dir: John Sayles
  8. Stardust Memories (US, 1980) Dir: Woody Allen
  9. My Dinner with Andre (US, 1981) Dir: Louis Malle
  10. Baby It’s You (US, 1983) Dir: John Sayles
  11. Short Cuts (US, 1993) Dir: Robert Altman
  12. Before Sunrise (US, 1995) Dir: Richard Linklater
  13. Traffic (US, 2000) Dir: Steven Soderbergh
  14. Waking Life (US, 2001) Dir: Richard Linklater
  15. Dogville (Denmark, 2003) Dir: Lars von Trier
  16. Slumdog Millionaire (UK, 2008) Dir: Danny Boyle
  17. The White Ribbon (Germany/Austria 2009) Dir: Michael Haneke
  18. The Tree of Life (US, 2011) Dir: Terence Malick
  19. Moonrise Kingdom (US, 2012) Dir: Wes Anderson

Documentaries

  1. Night and Fog (France, 1955) Dir: Alain Resnais
  2. Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One (US, 1968) Dir: William Greaves
  3. Microcosmos (France, 1996) Dir: Claude Nuridsany & Marie Pérennou
  4. Fast, Cheap and Out of Control (US, 1997) Dir: Errol Morris
  5. Capturing the Friedmans (US, 2003) Dir: Andrew Jarecki
  6. Tarnation (US, 2004) Dir: Jonathan Caouette
  7. Fahrenheit 9/11 (US, 2004) Dir: Michael Moore
  8. Grizzly Man (US, 2005) Dir: Werner Herzog
  9. Encounters at the End of the World (US, 2007) Dir: Werner Herzog
  10. Cave of Forgotten Dreams (US, 2010) Dir: Werner Herzog
  11. The Act of Killing (Denmark, 2012) Dir: Joshua Oppenheimer

Very Recent Films

  1. Anomalisa (US, 2015) Dir: Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson
  2. Moonlight (US, 2016) Dir: Barry Jenkins
  3. The Florida Project (US, 2017) Dir: Sean Baker
  4. The Favourite (Ireland/UK/US, 2018) Dir: Yorgos Lanthimos
  5. The Souvenir (UK, 2019) Dir: Joanna Hogg

Other

  1. The Vanishing (The Netherlands, 1988) Dir: George Sluizer
  2. Ed Wood (US, 1994) Dir: Tim Burton
  3. Happiness (US, 1998) Dir: Todd Solondz
  4. Requiem for a Dream (US, 2000) Dir: Darren Aronofsky
  5. Fat Girl (France, 2001) Dir: Catherine Breillat
  6. Moulin Rouge! (US, 2001) Dir: Baz Luhrmann
  7. American Splendor (US, 2003) Dir: Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini
  8. Downfall (Germany, 2004) Dir: Oliver Hirschbiegel
  9. Once  (Ireland, 2006) Dir: John Carney
  10. Juno (US, 2007) Dir: Jason Reitman

 

 

 

 

The Art of the Now: A Contemporary Art Meta-List


All Art Has Been Contemporary, Maurizio Nannucci (1999).

As the above work of contemporary art makes clear, the term “contemporary art” is problematic.  “Contemporary” doesn’t refer to a specific method, technique, movement, style or even sensibility. It’s about time – and nothing else. Despite the term’s limitations, when I looked for lists of the best contemporary art, I found a general consensus that the term applied to a period of time beginning in the 1960s or 1970s and continuing to the present day.  Many art historians, critics and others agree that Contemporary Art is what followed Modern Art. While there is  significant disagreement about when the Modern Art period ended, just about everyone agrees that it did end some time ago.

Here’s the new meta-list:
Best Contemporary Art – A Chronological List

In looking at the works on the meta-list (and those that didn’t make the cut), I can make several general observations about contemporary art. Here are 10 takeaways:

(1) Many contemporary artists are interested in the process of making, displaying and acquiring works of art as a subject in itself.  For example, when Damien Hirst priced For the Love of God – a diamond-encrusted skull – at 50 million British pounds in 2007, his marketing strategy was part of the conceptual piece.  Other artists have eschewed or mocked the traditional notion of art museums.
(2) While some contemporary artists continue to create art in traditional forms such as painting (Gerhard Richter, Cy Twombly, Lucian Freud, David Hockney, Bridget Riley, Alice Neel, Ellsworth Kelly) and sculpture (Richard Serra, Duane Hanson, Anish Kapoor), many are drawn to other means of expression. One path leads to technology: films and videos (Francis Alÿs, William Kentridge, Matthew Barney), electronics (Jenny Holzer), multimedia. Another path leads to ephemeral or temporary art: installations (Olafur Eliasson, Yayoi Kusama, Christo), performances (Joseph Beuys, Marina Abramović, Pussy Riot), and street art (Keith Haring, Banksy).
(3) Commodification of art is a concern for many artists. Many artists produce replicas, duplicates or variations of earlier work.  (This artistic practice has a long history, of course.)  The artists may produce multiple copies of identical or similar works (see Andy Warhol’s Mao or Shepard Fairey’s HOPE poster), or they may take a theme and produce variations on it (see Donald Judd’s Stacks, Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Rooms, Sigmar Polke’s Watchtower paintings, Louise Bourgeois’ Cells).  This is particularly common with photography; many photographers go from series to series during their careers (see Sally Mann’s Immediate Family; Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Lightning Fields; Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills).
(4) As with the modernists who preceded them, many contemporary artists love to play with the notion of “what is art?” and enjoy provoking the question, “Is this art?” from the viewer (see Damien Hirst’s Natural History series, or Jenny Holzer’s Truisms).  Others appear to be interested in the shock value of their art.
(5) Many contemporary artists encourage viewers to take part in, become part of or otherwise actively interact with the artwork (see Yayoi Kusama’s Obliteration Room, Chen Zhen’s 50 Strokes to Each or Marina Abramović’s The Artist Is Present).
(6) There seems to be a dichotomy between artists who love to explain the meanings of their works – who use texts, interviews and other means to discuss the works – and artists who refuse to attribute any deeper meanings to the works they create.  In a few cases (Jeff Koons comes to mind), some critics feel that the artwork does not live up to the deep meanings ascribed to it by the artist.
(7) Bigger is better.  Many contemporary artists create works that are very large in size or scope (Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty; Jeff Koons’ Puppy, James Turrell’s Roden Crater; Walter De Maria’s Lightning Field), or that include many hundreds or thousands of elements (see Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds; Marta Minujín’s Parthenon of Books; Joseph Beuys’ 7,000 Oaks; Antony Gormley’s Field series).
(8) Art as a forum for personal expression – particularly personal autobiography – is a theme of much contemporary art (see Edward Kienholz’s The Birthday, Mike Kelley’s Mobile Homestead and the work of Louise Bourgeois and Tracey Emin).
(9) As more women and people of color have been able to overcome barriers to have their artistic voices heard, they raise difficult issues of race and gender in their work (see Judy Chicago, Cindy Sherman, Kara Walker, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kehinde Wiley).
(10) Postmodernism is a theoretical underpinning to much contemporary art, leading many artists to engage in a dialogue with (or repudiation of) the art of the past (see Kehinde Wiley’s Napoleon Leading His Troops Across the Alps, Yasumasa Morimura’s Portrait (Fugato), Vik Muniz’s Pictures of Garbage). Postmodern ideas also underlie the practice of appropriation art, in which artists incorporate or repurpose objects or images produced by others in their work – either untouched or manipulated in some way (see Andy Warhol’s Mao silkscreens, Thomas Ruff’s jpeg series, Shepard Fairey’s HOPE poster, Joseph Kosuth’s One and Three Chairs).

For more on contemporary art, check out this list:
Best Contemporary Artists and their Work 

 

Too Soon? Reviewing the 21st Century

Listers can be impatient people. How impatient, you ask? Well, folks have been making “Best of the 21st Century” lists since 2012. Seriously?

But we here at Make Lists, Not War don’t judge. If you want to make a list of best 21st Century films, books or music less than two decades into the 100-year period, you go right ahead. And if you do, you know that Make Lists, Not War will collect those lists and compile them into meta-lists. And we’ll keep looking out for new lists and update the meta-lists accordingly. The current update is thanks to The Guardian newspaper, which recently published its top 100 books, movies and albums of the 21st Century so far. I’ve added those to the meta-list, which you can find by clicking on the link below:

Best of the 21st Century (So Far)

For those who need to know right now, here is a sneak peek at the items on the most lists:

Movie: There Will Be Blood

Album: Elephant – The White Stripes

Book: The Corrections – Jonathan Franzen

https://beckchris.com/about/best-of-the-21st-century-so-far/

Modernist Architecture in Cambridge, MA: A Tour

Cambridge, Massachusetts (“Our Fair City”, to CarTalk fans) is home to Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and each of these institutions of higher learning is home to two major works of modernist architecture.  I took a self-guided tour today of the four buildings (actually one of them consists of multiple buildings) and thought I’d share some photos and info with you.

AT HARVARD

Harvard University Graduate Center (1949-1950)
Architect
: Walter Gropius (Germany/US, 1883-1969) with The Architects’ Collaborative (Jean Bodman-Fletcher, Norman C. Fletcher, John C. Harkness, Sarah Harkness, Robert S. McMillan, Louis A. McMillen, and Benjamin Thompson)
gropius complex 1
gropius complex 5
gropius complex 2
gropius complex 7
gropius complex 4
gropius complex 6
Originally built as the university’s graduate center, the Gropius Complex (as it is sometimes called) consists of eight buildings – seven dormitories and a dining hall/student center – arranged around larger and smaller four-sided courtyards. The dormitories are situated so that no one faces another. The dormitories are now used to house Harvard Law School students. The dining hall (Harkness Commons) can seat up to 1,000 students. All the buildings are four stories or fewer and are constructed of concrete; the exterior walls are made of buff-colored brick or limestone. According to Architectuul.com, “The Harvard Graduate Center is the first modern building on the campus, it was also the first endorsement of the modern style by a major university and was seen in the national and architectural presses as a turning point in the acceptance of the aesthetic in the United States.”

Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts (1961-1963)
ArchitectLe Corbusier (Switzerland/France, 1887-1965) with Guillermo Jullian de la Fuente. On-site coordinator: Josep Lluís Sert.
carpenter center 5carpenter center 2
carpenter center 1
carpenter center 4
carpenter center 3
 
carpenter center 6
Le Corbusier was a driving force in modern architecture and the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard is the only building in the United States that he designed. Le Corbusier was famous for his “five points of architecture”: (1) The building is raised up on reinforced concrete pylons, which allows for free circulation on the ground level, and eliminates dark and damp parts of the house. (2) The sloping roof is replaced by a flat roof terrace, which can be used as a garden, for promenades, sports or a swimming pool. (3) Load-bearing walls are replaced by a steel or reinforced concrete columns, so the interior can be freely designed, and interior walls can put anywhere, or left out entirely. The structure of the building is not visible from the outside. (4) Since the walls do not support the house, ribbon windows can run the entire length of the house, so all rooms can get equal light. (5) Since the building is supported by columns in the interior, the façade can be much lighter and more open, or made entirely of glass. There is no need for lintels or other structure around the windows. The building now houses Harvard’s Department of Visual and Environmental Studies, and is the venue for screenings by the Harvard Film Archive. The building was completed in 1963, just two years before Le Corbusier’s death; he was too ill to attend the opening ceremonies and never saw the completed building.

AT MIT

Baker House (1947-1948)
Architect
: Alvar Aalto (Finland, 1898-1976)
baker house 3
baker house 4
baker house 2baker house 1baker house 5baker house 6
Finnish architect Alvar Aalto once described his design for Baker House – a six-story MIT dormitory on Memorial Drive in Cambridge – as a mix between a ski lodge and a ship. An aerial view of the building shows its wave shape. The website docomomo-us opined: “Baker House is the first major building to synthesize European Modernism with the regional material vernacular of New England. It is also a pivotal building in architect Alvar Aalto’s career and the most significant of his works in North America.”

Stata Center (2004)
Architect: Frank Gehry (Canada/US, 1929- )
stata center 1
stata center 5
stata center 6
stata center 7
stata center 4
stata center 8
The Stata Center houses classrooms and auditoriums used by MIT’s Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department, the Linquistics Department and the Philosophy Department, as well as other departments and on-campus groups. It is also home to the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems. Noam Chomsky, Richard Stallman and Tim Berners-Lee are among the academic A-listers with offices there.  In a 2004 review of the building, Boston Globe columnist Robert Campbell wrote: “the Stata is always going to look unfinished. It also looks as if it’s about to collapse. Columns tilt at scary angles. Walls teeter, swerve, and collide in random curves and angles. Materials change wherever you look: brick, mirror-surface steel, brushed aluminum, brightly colored paint, corrugated metal. Everything looks improvised, as if thrown up at the last moment. That’s the point. The Stata’s appearance is a metaphor for the freedom, daring, and creativity of the research that’s supposed to occur inside it.”

I’ll conclude with a Stata Center self-portrait:
stata center self portrait

 

See It To Believe It: The Updated Art Lists

I found a bunch of new lists of best works of visual art and decided to add them to the meta-list.  Now I have over 30 source lists gathered from books and various websites. This particular meta-list is in two versions – one version (in two parts) is organized by rank and contains every work of art on four or more of the original source lists.  To look at this list, click on the links below:
Best Works of Art of All Time – Ranked, Part 1 (works of art on 6 or more lists)
Best Works of Art of All Time – Ranked, Part 2 (works on 4 or 5 lists)

The second (and much larger) version of the meta-list is organized chronologically and includes every work of art on at least two of the original 30+ source lists.  This meta-list (which I call Art History 101) is in seven parts:
Part IA (Prehistoric Era – 399 CE)
Part IB (400-1399 CE)
Part IIA (1400-1499)
Part IIB (1500-1599)
Part III (1600-1799)
Part IV (1800-1899)
Part V (1900-Present)

Please note that the artworks on this particular meta-list are primarily paintings and sculptures, with a few pieces of decorative art.  For other forms of visual art – including architecture, photography, film, and television – I have compiled separate meta-lists.

To keep with the list theme, I’ve made some lists about the updated visual arts lists, which follow below. First, the updated meta-list has led to changes in the rankings throughout the list and the top 10 has been rearranged considerably:

The New Top 10: Artworks on the Most Lists
1. Leonardo da Vinci: Mona Lisa (1503-1505)
2. Michelangelo: Frescoes, Sistine Chapel Ceiling (1508-1512)
3. Diego VelázquezLas Meninas (1656)
4. Pablo Picasso: Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907)
5. Pablo Picasso: Guernica (1937)
6. Michelangelo: David (1501-1504)
7. Vincent Van Gogh: The Starry Night (1889)
8. Sandro Botticelli: The Birth of Venus (1486)
9. Francisco Goya: The Third of May, 1808 (1814)
10. Edward Munch: The Scream (1893)

There are 25 new works of art on the meta-list as the result of this latest update, and six new artists:

The New Kids on the Block, Part 1: The Artworks

  1. Unknown Artists: Great Sphinx of Giza (Egypt, c. 2530 BCE)
  2. Unknown Artist: Lyre with Bull’s Head (Mesopotamia/Iraq, c. 2550-2450)
  3. Gislebertus: Relief Sculptures, Saint-Lazare Cathedral (France, 10th-11th Century)
  4. Lorenzo Ghiberti: The Baptism of Christ (Italy, c. 1423-1427)
  5. Albrecht Altdorfer: George and the Dragon (Germany, 1510)
  6. Giorgione and Titian: Sleeping Venus (Italy, 1510) 
  7. Pieter Bruegel the Elder: The Harvesters (The Netherlands, 1565)
  8. Nicolas Poussin: Et in Arcadia ego (France, c. 1638-1640)
  9. Ogata Korin: Flowering Irises (Japan, c. 1710)
  10. Joshua Reynolds: Self-Portrait (Great Britain, c. 1748)
  11. Jacques-Louis DavidThe Lictors Bring to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons (France, 1789)
  12. Antonio Canova: Perseus Triumphant (Italy, 1804-1806)
  13. John Constable: Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows (UK, 1831)
  14. Édouard ManetThe Execution of Emperor Maximilian (France, 1867)
  15. Vincent van Gogh: Vincent’s Chair (The Netherlands/France, 1888)
  16. Vincent Van Gogh: Starry Night over the Rhône (The Netherlands/France, 1888) 
  17. Paul Gauguin: Te Arii Vahine (The King’s Wife) (France/French Polynesia, 1896)
  18. Paul Cézanne: Still Life with Apples and Oranges (France, c. 1895-1900)
  19. Henri Matisse: The Conversation (France, 1909)
  20. Umberto Boccioni: The City Rises (Italy, 1910)
  21. Rene Magritte: Le Faux Joan Miróir (The False Mirror) (Belgium, 1928)
  22. Diego Rivera: Man, Controller of the Universe (Mexico, 1934)
  23. Jackson Pollock: Number 5, 1948 (US, 1948)
  24. Damien HirstThe Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (UK, 1991)
  25. Louise Bourgeois: Maman (France/US, 1999)

New Kids on the Block, Part 2: New Artists
1. Gislebertus (France, 12th Century)
2. Ogata Korin (Japan, 1658-1716)
3. Joshua Reynolds (Great Britain, 1723-1792)
4. Diego Rivera (Mexico, 1886-1957)
5. Louise Bourgeois (France, 1911-2010)
6. Damien Hirst (UK: England, 1965- )

And, finally, here is a list of the artists with the largest number of artworks on the entire meta-list:

12 Works of Art on the Meta-List
Pieter Bruegel the Elder (The Netherlands, c. 1525/1530-1569)
Rembrandt (The Netherlands, 1606-1669)

11 Works
Titian (Italy, 1488-1576)

10 Works 
Francisco Goya (Spain, 1746-1828)

9 Works      
Vincent Van Gogh (The Netherlands, 1853-1890)

8 Works
Leonardo da Vinci (Italy, 1452-1519)
Michelangelo (Italy, 1475-1564)

7 Works
Piero della Francesca (Italy, 1416-1492)
Albrecht Dürer (Germany, 1471-1528)
Raphael (Italy, 1483-1520)
El Greco (Greece, 1541-1614)
Caravaggio (Italy, 1571-1610)
Peter Paul Rubens (Flanders/Belgium, 1577-1640)
Claude Monet (France, 1840-1926)

6 Works 
Andrea Mantegna (Italy, 1431-1506)
Diego Velázquez (Spain, 1599-1660)
J.M.W. Turner (UK, 1775-1851)
Édouard Manet (France, 1832-1883)
Pablo Picasso (Spain, 1881-1973)
Henri Matisse (France, 1869-1954)
Jackson Pollock (US, 1912-1956)