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Feast Your Eyes on New York's 9 Most Iconic Museum Paintings

So much to see, so little time. Here are the nine unmissable paintings to visit during your trip to New York.

There’s a museum in New York to suit every taste and for visitors to the city, that’s both a blessing and a curse. There just aren’t enough minutes in the day to see every artifact in every wing of every monumental gallery.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by this embarrassment of riches, don’t fret: we’ve highlighted nine artistic masterpieces featured in two major NYC museums the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art which we believe should be included on every art lover’s Big Apple itinerary. While wandering the Met and MoMA in search of these paintings, be sure to let yourself get a little lost: you never know what treasures you’ll stumble upon along the way.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

1. Self-Portrait by Rembrandt van Rijn (1660)

Rembrandt painted dozens of self-portraits during his decades-long career as an artist. When viewed holistically, these paintings depict the gradual process of Rembrandt’s aging. The portrait at the Met’s collection was painted during his later years, and conveys a frank portrayal of the passage of time in his weathered appearance.

2. Young Woman with a Water Pitcher by Johannes Vermeer (1662)

Like Rembrandt, Vermeer produced his masterpieces during the golden age of Dutch painting. This serene portrayal of a woman at home exudes contentment and domestic bliss. Though portraying a simple scene, the painting’s harmonious mood and interesting use of light renders it one of the Met’s most popular attractions.

3. Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies by Claude Monet (1899)

During the year 1899, this French Impressionist painted 18 views of the same Japanese bridge at his house in Giverny, France including the one featured at the Met, which was captured during a summer day. For all you world travelers, paintings from this extensive series are scattered at museums across the globe; so seek out more of Monet’s water lilies at your next destination (hint: Paris) to gain a different perspective on the same vista.

4. Young Mother Sewing by Mary Cassatt (1900)

By 1890, after spending years painting women out and about in Paris, Mary Cassatt had narrowed her artistic focus to mothers and children exclusively. This famous painting of a mother and son captures a casual domestic intimacy little seen in Cassatt’s male-dominated world of art.

Museum of Modern Art

5. The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh (1889)

While you’ve probably seen a poster of Van Gogh’s Starry Night hung on a dorm room wall, you can see the painting in its original glory at the MoMA. Van Gogh created his internationally recognized masterpiece while at the Saint-Remy-de-Provence asylum, following a mental breakdown during which he famously self-mutilated his left ear.

6. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon by Pablo Picasso (1907)

Standing before the painting’s five women, made up of jagged shapes and unnatural seeming bodies, you’ll see why Picasso’s work shook up the art world at the time of its unveiling. The painting marked a radical departure from traditional composition and perspective, and set the scene for the artist’s next period of work.

7. Fulang-Chang and I by Frida Kahlo (1937)

Like Rembrandt, the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo was known for her inventive self-portraits. The portrait at the MoMA depicts Kahlo with one of her cherished pet monkeys. But why is there a framed mirror hanging next to the portrait? When Kahlo gave the portrait to her friend, Mary Schapiro Sklar, she attached the mirror so Sklar could have her own very own self-portrait.

8. One: Number 31 by Jackson Pollock (1950)

The other artists on this list may seem traditional compared to the abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock, who was known for his unique method of painting. To make this wall-sized masterpiece, Pollock poured and flicked paint on the canvas surface with sticks and stiffened brushes.

9. Drowning Girl by Roy Lichtenstein (1963)

Lichtenstein’s melodramatic painting has its origins in the cover of a comic book. Drawing inspiration from a drowning woman on the cover of Run for Love! By DC Comics, Lichtenstein recreated the comic feel by manually drawing the comic’s Benday dots.

Affinia is offering an extra night free when you book a three night stay in one of our locations in New York City. Book now.

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