Pablo Picasso’s Guernica

Pablo Picasso most famous painting is in black and white in 1937. He painted Guernica to condemn the bombing of a town in the Spanish civil war. It is a depiction of a gory attack without using the colour of blood. This has since remained Picasso’s anti-war masterpiece.

Tagore’s Bird


Rabindranath Tagore was a master of many trades – a prolific painter being one of them. Unbelievably, Tagore began painting at the age of 63.  As a writer he would be artistic to even scratched-out words or alteration marks on his manuscripts which eventually turned into doodles. He went on to paint thousands of works and became the first Indian artist whose paintings were exhibited across Europe, Russia, and the United States.

He himself described his inventive scribble as ‘a probable animal that had unaccountably missed its chance of existence’ or ‘a bird that only can soar in our dreams.’

As per Vidushi Trivedi, ‘Spurred by a spirit of inventiveness, his works merged the familiar with the unknown. You can see the representation of a living animal’s movements onto an imaginary body, or of a human gesture expressed through an animal’s body.’

de Kooning’s Painting


Willem de Kooning was a Dutch American abstract expressionist and became one of the foremost Abstract Expressionist painters.

As per Susan Benford, ‘De Kooning started Painting (1948) by tracing sections of his figurative drawings, transferring them, and applying both enamel sign paint and oil paint. While Painting (1948) does initially appear to be a mass of generic, amorphous and nameless shapes, further inspection suggests  an interior – isn’t that the top of a table and its legs in the lower right? de Kooning chose black and white to confound figure and ground, and succeeds.’

Franz Kline’s Four Square

Oil on canvas – The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Four Square is another example of Kline’s experimentation with angular compositions. Although apparently structured in its compositional rigidness, Four Square is a fine example of his gestural approach to painting. The viewer is led to ponder the canvas, seeing as either a close-up of a linguistic symbol or, perhaps, a set of open windows. In this work Kline is also attempting to construct a three-dimensional abstract composition, whereas most of the Abstract Expressionists preferred the two- dimensional treatment of the pictorial surface. Kline achieves the visual effect of depth through energetic juxtapositions of vertical and horizontal lines and their diagonal overlapping.

Kazimir Malevich, Black Square on a White Ground


A black square placed against the sun first appeared in Malevich’s stage designs for the 1913 Futurist opera, Victory over the sun. As an independent oil painting Malevich exhibited Black Square in the Last Futurist Exhibition in Petrograd in 1915. Malevich took the ideas of Cubism and Futurism and founded radical, avant-garde art movement Suprematism, of which Black Square is considered a seminal work.

–  Winsor & Newton



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