From the early Renaissance through Baroque and Romanticism to Cubism, Surrealism, and Pop, these canonical works of Western Art span eight centuries and a vast range of subjects. Here are the sacred and the scandalous, the minimalist and the opulent, the groundbreaking and the conventional. There are paintings that captured the feeling of an era and those that signalled the beginning of a new one; works of art that were immediately recognised for their genius, and others that were at first met with resistance. All have stood the test of time and in their own ways contribute to the dialectic on what makes a painting great, how notions of art have changed, to what degree art reflects reality, and to what degree it alters it. Taken together, these great works illuminate the changing preoccupations and insights of our ancestors, and give us pause to consider which paintings from our own era will ultimately join the canon.
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