Behind every piece of art are secrets, mysteries and curiosities that the artists who made them wanted to conceal, and which art critics try to unveil, by studying and digging for years.
In this article you’ll find six art fun facts we’ve picked for you on some of the most famous works of art of all times!
1. Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci
Probably the most recognizable painting ever, Mona Lisa is famous for its perfection and for that air of mystery that surrounds it. There are many questions on who this woman might be and how she can be this perfect. Some people assert it may be a self-portrait of the artist, others say it might be the portrait of a woman that he loved… One of the theories, formulated by Borkowsky, a world-famous art specialist, claims that the woman Leonardo Da Vinci portrayed did not have teeth, because her facial expression is typical of a person that lacks the ones in the front.
2. Nightawks, Edward Hopper
This extremely famous painting has been an inspiration for several movie scenes. Some scholars assert that Hopper was inspired by The Killers, a short story by Ernest Hemingway, others think the main influence was Van Gogh’s 1888 painting The Night Café, currently held at the Yale University Art Gallery.
What we are sure of is that Nighthawks has inspired several directors for the scenes of their movies and TV shows: ever noticed, for example, that in episode 17×02 of The Simpsons there is a frame recalling the exact position of the characters of the painting?
3. Arnolfini Portrait, Jan van Eyck
Van Eyck must have had a lot of fun placing symbols in this painting, which is now in London’s National Gallery! A few examples: oranges evoke Italy, which is the place the Arnolfinis came from, and their high social status – oranges were hard to get for common people. The one-candled chandelier represents the flame of love, and the dog at their feet is a symbol of loyalty and devotion.
4. Seated Figure, Francis Bacon
Another link between art and pop culture is the one between David Lynch and Francis Bacon: the visionary director has never denied his passion for art, and he admitted that many of the scenes of his movies were inspired by several artists, such as Bacon and Hopper. If you have watched the iconic TV show Twin Peaks, you must remember the scenes in which Dale Cooper is sitting in the Red Room… Well, Bacon’s “Seated Figure” was the main inspiration for that frame!
5. American Gothic, Grant Wood
Speaking of movie references, there is another iconic painting that has been reproduced on film many, many times: it’s American Gothic, which, for example, was represented in the Rocky Horror Picture Show! In this segment of the 1974 film, Patricia Quinn and Richard O’Brien, who – later in the movie – play the roles of Magenta and Riff Raff, are standing in quite a familiar position…
6. Bedroom in Arles, Vincent van Gogh
Colors are one of the main keys to the interpretation of this painting. The prevailing ones are yellow and green, which represent comfort and safety. Some scholars think they indicate the painter’s desire to rest and sleep; others, instead, think that he used those colors because, in order to treat his epilepsy, he was using some drugs that conditioned his perception of colors.