9 Amazing Portraits That Changed Art

Anyone can snap a selfie. These passionate artists created portraits that changed art forever.

1. “Portrait of Wally” by Egon Schiele

The painting of Schiele’s mistress is called the “face that launched a thousand lawsuits” for a reason. After being lost during World War II, Wally remained missing until 1997, when she somehow ended up in an American museum—an appearance that angered the Austrian government, which claimed ownership. It sparked a 13-year court battle that has influenced every art restitution case since.

2. “Portrait of Gustave Geffroy” by Paul Cezanne

Having your portrait painted by Cezanne was like running a marathon. The artist studied his subjects so intensely that he could not paint them in one fell swoop, but sometimes needed them to pose over 100 times. (For Geffroy’s portrait, Cezanne took three months.) The hard angles in Geffroy’s portrait inspired Cubists years later. 

3. “Portrait of Madame X” by John Singer Sargent

Everyone was shocked when Madame X was unveiled. Although nude paintings were everywhere, this painting was considered by far the most sexual many viewers had seen. Having posed as the model, Virgine Gautreau found her reputation briefly dashed, losing her status as Paris’s prime arm candy. Now lauded for being both revealing and concealing, the portrait is considered one of the greatest ever made.

4. All of Mary Cassatt’s portraits

Mary Cassatt may have grown up in Pittsburgh, but her portraits look like they came straight from France. Capturing the subtle social and private lives of women, Cassatt was one of the first women to successfully make painting her full-time job. By the looks of it, she was just as talented—if not more talented—as the men.

5. “The Blue Boy” by Thomas Gainsborough

Back in the 18th century, lots of portraits looked like colorless voids—a palette of drab browns and grays. Artist Joshua Reynolds even dictated, “Masses of light in a picture be always of a warm, mellow colour, yellow, red, or a yellowish white, and that the blue, the grey, or the green colours be kept almost entirely out of these masses.” Thomas Gainsborough called that hogwash. He defied convention and sparked a surge in color with this brightly lit portrait of a boy in blue.

6. “Whistler’s Mother” by James McNeill Whistler

Painted in 1871, some call this portrait the “Victorian Mona Lisa.” Although Whistler didn’t consider it a portrait—he felt it was a study in black and gray—it’s since become an icon for motherhood. Few paintings have been copied more.

7. “Pope Innocent X” by Diego Velazquez

The granddaddy of them all, art historians all over call this the greatest portrait of all time. The subject’s ruddy complexion is incredibly precise, arguably making it the most realistic portrait ever made. (When the pope first saw it, he recoiled and called it “too real.”) Velazquez did something that few people in the 17th century could do—he made one of the world’s most powerful men look human.

8. All of Van Gogh’s Self Portraits

In his final years, Van Gogh painted over 30 self-portraits. More than beautiful paintings, those portraits are records of every alteration of the artist’s technique—and a portal into how he viewed himself during those whirlwind years. Painted in 1889, his last portrait commanded one of the highest prices for a painting of all time, going for $71 million.

9. “Adele Bloch-Bauer I” by Gustav Klimt

Sold for $135 million in 2006, Klimt’s golden masterwork is one of the most expensive paintings ever sold. The portrait’s complex ornamentation helped establish the Art Nouveau movement, a style that has heavily influenced modern architecture, sculpture, and—of course—painting. 

Art

14 Retro Gifts for Millennials

Ravi Palwe, Unsplash
Ravi Palwe, Unsplash

Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996, which means the pop culture they grew up with is officially retro. No matter what generation you belong to, consider these gifts when shopping for the Millennials in your life this holiday season.

1. Reptar Funko Pop!; $29

Amazon

This vinyl Reptar figurine from Funko is as cool as anything you’d find in the rugrats’ toy box. The monster dinosaur has been redesigned in classic Pop! style, making it a perfect desk or shelf accessory for the grown-up Nickelodeon fan. It also glows in the dark, which should appeal to anyone’s inner child.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Dragon Ball Z Slippers; $20

Hot Topic

You don’t need to change out of your pajamas to feel like a Super Saiyan. These slippers are emblazoned with the same kanji Goku wears on his gi in Dragon Ball Z: one for training under King Kai and one for training with Master Roshi. And with a soft sherpa lining, the footwear feels as good as it looks.

Buy it: Hot Topic

3. The Pokémon Cookbook; $15

Hop Topic

What do you eat after a long day of training and catching Pokémon? Any dish in The Pokémon Cookbook is a great option. This book features more than 35 recipes inspired by creatures from the Pokémon franchise, including Poké Ball sushi rolls and mashed Meowth potatoes.

Buy it: Hot Topic

4. Lisa Frank Activity Book; $5

Urban Outfitters

Millennials will never be too old for Lisa Frank, especially when the artist’s playful designs come in a relaxing activity book. Watercolor brings the rainbow characters in this collection to life. Just gather some painting supplies and put on a podcast for a relaxing, nostalgia-fueled afternoon.

Buy it: Urban Outfitters

5. Shoebox Tape Recorder with USB; $28

Amazon

The days of recording mix tapes don’t have to be over. This device looks and functions just like tape recorders from the pre-smartphone era. And with a USB port as well as a line-in jack and built-in mic, users can easily import their digital music collection onto retro cassette tapes.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Days of the Week Scrunchie Set; $12

Urban Outfitters

Millennials can be upset that a trend from their youth is old enough to be cool again, or they can embrace it. This scrunchie set is for anyone happy to see the return of the hair accessory. The soft knit ponytail holders come in a set of five—one for each day of the school (or work) week.

Buy it: Urban Outfitters

7. D&D Graphic T-shirt; $38-$48

80s Tees

The perfect gift for the Dungeon Master in your life, this graphic tee is modeled after the cover of the classic Dungeons & Dragons rule book. It’s available in sizes small through 3XL.

Buy it: 80s Tees

8. Chuck E. Cheese T-shirt; $36-$58

80s Tees

Few Millennials survived childhood without experiencing at least one birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. This retro T-shirt sports the brand’s original name: Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theatre. It may be the next-best gift for a Chuck E. Cheese fan behind a decommissioned animatronic.

Buy it: 80s Tees

9. The Nightmare Before Christmas Picnic Blanket Bag; $40

Shop Disney

Fans of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas will recognize the iconic scene on the front of this messenger bag. Unfold it and the bag becomes a blanket fit for a moonlit picnic among the pumpkins. The bottom side is waterproof and the top layer is made of soft fleece.

Buy it: Shop Disney

10. Toy Story Alien Socks; $15

Shop Disney

You don’t need to be skilled at the claw machine to take home a pair of these socks. Decorated with the aliens from Toy Story, they’re made from soft-knit fabric and are big enough to fit adult feet.

Buy it: Shop Disney

11. Goosebumps Board Game; $24

Amazon

Fans that read every book in R.L. Stine’s series growing up can now play the Goosebumps board game. In this game, based on the Goosebumps movie, players take on the role of their favorite monster from the series and race to the typewriter at the end of the trail of manuscripts.

Buy it: Amazon

12. Tamagotchi Mini; $19

Amazon

If you know someone who killed their Tamagotchi in the '90s, give them another chance to show off their digital pet-care skills. This Tamagotchi is a smaller, simplified version of the original game. It doubles as a keychain, so owners have no excuse to forget to feed their pet.

Buy it: Amazon

13. SNES Classic; $275

Amazon

The SNES Classic is much easier to find now than when it first came out, and it's still just as entertaining for retro video game fans. This mini console comes preloaded with 21 Nintendo games, including Super Mario Kart and Street Fighter II.

Buy it: Amazon

14. Planters Cheez Balls; $24

Amazon

Planters revived its Cheez Balls in 2018 after pulling them from shelves nearly a decade earlier. To Millennials unaware of that fact, this gift could be their dream come true. The throwback snack even comes in the classic canister fans remember.

Buy it: Amazon

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Someone Created an Amazing LEGO Portrait of Fleabag's "Hot Priest" Andrew Scott

Andrew Scott as the "Hot Priest" in Fleabag.
Andrew Scott as the "Hot Priest" in Fleabag.
Amazon Studios

It’s been almost a year and a half since fans first met the “Hot Priest”—a role created specifically for actor Andrew Scott—in season 2 of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s award-winning series Fleabag, and the character is still eliciting strong feelings and inspiring tributes of all kinds.

The latest creative tribute to the G&T-guzzling man of the cloth is a portrait assembled entirely from LEGO bricks—5340 of them, to be exact. It was made by Andy Bauch, a Los Angeles-based LEGO artist who has re-created everything from Mondrian paintings to self-portraits of Chuck Close. For this pop culture masterpiece, Bauch worked off a television still that shows Scott dressed in clerical black and illuminated by sunlight filtering through a church window.

Bauch used 10 shades of blue, green, and black to capture the nameless priest in all his godly glory. According to the video above, more than half of the 38-inch-by-28.5-inch artwork consists of square black bricks with four LEGO studs each. Overall, it took nearly 10,000 studs to complete the image. What we don’t know is how long it took to complete, though the artist did have two assistants to help him.

The portrait isn’t currently for sale, but anyone with a sizable LEGO collection and a fondness for tragicomic clergymen (or more specifically, for Andrew Scott portraying one) is welcome to try their hand at fashioning some Hot Priest wall art of their own. And if that project warrants re-watching Fleabag, so be it.