There is no denying the power of a work of art, which can evoke certain feelings or even manipulate the viewer’s emotions beyond his control.
But there are also works that rattle the very infrastructure of art and the idea of what it means to create. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, they shape our history.
We asked the experts at Paddle8, an online art auction house that hosts both themed and benefit sales, to help us curate a list of some of the most revolutionary artwork of all time. Since the complete history of art is so vast, we limited their selections to the last 200 years or so — the relatively recent Modern and Contemporary eras.
'Goya's depiction of the Spanish resistance to Napoleon's armies during the occupation of 1808 was a groundbreaking image of the horrors of war,' Paddle8's experts said. Goya broke out from other artists of his day by showing an unheroic scene in the conflict, with the rebels in a passive surrender, rather than a glorifying charge.
(image url='http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5283dd316bb3f727638b4567-1200-924/el-tres-de-mayo-francisco-de-goya-the-third-of-may.jpg' alt='El Tres de Mayo, Francisco de Goya, The Third of May' link='lightbox' size='secondary' align='right' clear='true')
'The frank sexuality and direct stare of Manet's subject, a prostitute, turned the idea of the 'male gaze' on its head,' said Paddle8. 'No longer was a reclining nude available only for the pleasure of the viewer; she was confronting him head on.' Manet also met resistance based on the model he chose to paint. Unlike the ideal 'Venus' of the time -- soft, round, and glowing -- this model was thinner, and presented in harsher lighting.
(image url='http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5283de126bb3f758678b4567-1200-924/edouard-manet-olympia.jpg' alt='Edouard Manet, Olympia' link='lightbox' size='secondary' align='right' clear='true')
'The grandfather of Cubism, Cezanne intentionally painted works that were not easy to interpret or appealing to the fashion of the time,' said Paddle8. 'With 'The Bathers,' he created a work that was both timeless and abstract.' It was his goal to draw artists away from 'fad' styles of painting that he thought wouldn't last.
(image url='http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5283de7f6da811c2128b4569-1200-924/paul-czanne-the-bathers.jpg' alt='Paul Cézanne, The Bathers' link='lightbox' size='secondary' align='right' clear='true')
'Stieglitz, one of the godfathers of photography, helped promote the idea of photography as an independent art form,' Paddle8's experts said. 'In addition, the gallery that he ran promoted the major American Modernist artists of the early twentieth-century, bridging the gap between the status of American and European artists.'
(image url='http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5283dec469beddd11d8b456b-864-648/alfred-stieglitz-the-terminal.jpg' alt='Alfred Stieglitz, The Terminal' link='lightbox' size='secondary' align='right' clear='true')
'Kandinsky's abstract works concentrated on the emotional impact of colour and forms, removing all figurative content,' said Paddle8. 'Kandinsky was also a teacher at the Bauhaus, the influential Weimar-based school that promoted the integration of art and design into all aspects of life, focusing on techniques and materials employed especially in industrial design and manufacturing.'
(image url='http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5272669069bedd152d7d3d0b-880-1023/screen%20shot%202013-10-31%20at%2010.16.50%20am.jpg' alt='Improvisation 31, Wassily Kandinsky' link='lightbox' size='secondary' align='right' clear='true')
'The urinal that shocked the world, Duchamp's 'Fountain' introduced the concept of the 'readymade' -- ordinary manufactured objects that the artist selected and modified -- and played a crucial role in transforming people's ideas of the artist's role in society,' Paddle8's experts said.
(image url='http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5283df626bb3f78a698b4567-968-726/marcel-duchamp-the-fountain.jpg' alt='Marcel Duchamp, The Fountain' link='http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f6/Duchamp_Fountaine.jpg' size='secondary' align='right' clear='true')
'Painted in response to Franco's bombing of Guernica, a town in the Basque region, during the Spanish Civil War, Picasso's painting shows the tragedies of war, especially the suffering it inflicts on innocent civilians,' said Paddle8. 'The work became an enduring anti-war symbol, especially after it was brought to museum's around the world, opening people's eyes to the horrors of the Spanish Civil War.'
(image url='http://static.businessinsider.com/image/52726a7f6bb3f7b9135893ba-1200-667/screen%20shot%202013-10-31%20at%2010.33.28%20am.jpg' alt='Pablo Picasso, Guernica, painting' link='lightbox' size='secondary' align='right' clear='true')
'A distorted version of Velazquez's official portrait of the 17th-century Pope, Bacon's version shows the Pope screaming, his cries muffled by the dark drapes encircling him,' said Paddle8's experts. 'The rage contained within Bacon's figures in crisis crystallized mid-century angst.'
(image url='http://static.businessinsider.com/image/527273f069beddd9497d3d0e-1200-1715/bacon3bscreamingpopefrommet.jpg' alt='Study after Velazquez Pope Innocent X, Francis Bacon' link='lightbox' size='secondary' align='right' clear='true')
'Rauschenberg's radical 'non-art' consists of a drawing by renowned artist Willem de Kooning that Rauschenberg had erased. The action called into question the role of erasure in art, and signaled a new, more conceptual approach that rejected the muscular gestures of Abstract Expressionism,' Paddle8's experts said.
(image url='http://static.businessinsider.com/image/527276deeab8ea2d067d3d08-856-1000/erased-de-kooning.jpg' alt='Erased de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg' link='lightbox' size='secondary' align='right' clear='true')
'Johns invented a new style that fused pop, conceptual, and minimalist art,' said Paddle8's experts. 'As notably, 'Three Flags' was the first work of contemporary art to sell for over $US1 million, when Pace Gallery brokered the sale to the Whitney Museum in 1980, ushering in a new era of big-money, contemporary art buying.'
(image url='http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5283e945eab8ea995bdda6f1-1116-837/jasper-johns-three-flags-painting.jpg' alt='Jasper Johns Three Flags Painting' link='lightbox' size='secondary' align='right' clear='true')
'Oldenburg's witty and daring sculptures of mundane objects turned everything from cigarettes to hamburgers into 'art.' 'The Store,' a brightly painted sculptures and sculptural reliefs of commercial products, and served as a galvanizing moment in New York's performance art scene of the 1960s,' said Paddle8's experts.
(image url='http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5283eb59ecad041713dfc6c9-1200-924/the-store-by-claes-oldenburg-moma.jpg' alt='The Store by Claes Oldenburg, MoMA' link='lightbox' size='secondary' align='right' clear='true')
The 'apotheosis of land art,' Roden Crater is a two-mile-wide crater that Turrell bought in 1979 and has been transforming into a monumental work of art ever since, Paddle8 said. 'Turrell's ambitious masterwork will convert the inner cone of the 400,000-year-old crater into a massive naked-eye observatory, designed specifically for viewing and experiencing skylight, solar, and celestial phenomena.'
Satellite view of Roden Crater, the site of a work in progress by James Turrell outside Flagstaff, Ariz.
(image url='http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5283ef74ecad04f61bdfc6c4-978-734/roden-crater-james-turrell.jpg' alt='Roden Crater, James Turrell' link='lightbox' size='secondary' align='right' clear='true')
'Hirst's sculpture, a stuffed shark entombed in a vitrine of formaldehyde, was bought by Steve Cohen for $US8 million and is on long-term loan to the Museum of Modern Art, is often considered a symbol of the curious market of contemporary art,' said Paddle8's experts. 'It is also an icon of the in-your-face style of the Young British Artists (YBAs) who transformed the art market in the '90s, sending prices of new work by young artists skyrocketing.'
(image url='http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4f8477b66bb3f7827600000c-900-675/screen-shot-2012-04-10-at-12.55.05-pm.jpg' alt='Damien Hirst Tate' link='lightbox' size='secondary' align='right' clear='true')
'This landscape photograph is the most expensive photograph ever sold (it went for $US4.7 million at auction in 2011),' said Paddle8's experts. 'The purity of the abstract composition -- horizontal lines of sky, land, and river -- was made possible through the digital editing that Gursky used to remove extraneous figures from the scene, confirming the impact of technology on the top of art art market.'
(image url='http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5283f17169bedd0546dda6f7-897-672/rhein-ii-by-andreas-gursky.jpg' alt='Rhein II by Andreas Gursky' link='lightbox' size='secondary' align='right' clear='true')
'Abramovic's residency at MoMA, in which she sat, silent and unmoving, in the museum's atrium for a total of 750 hours with visitors sitting across from her, brought performance art and durational performance into the mainstream,' said Paddle8. Helping the cause was Lady Gaga, who went to see the exhibit and drew an outpouring of younger viewers, who don't normally visit museums, to see the show.
(image url='http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5283f1e869beddfe48dda6f8-1200-924/the-artist-is-present-marina-abramovic.jpg' alt='The Artist Is Present, Marina Abramovic' link='lightbox' size='secondary' align='right' clear='true')
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