Best in Show
Las Meninas by Velazquez is the West's Greatest Work, and the 1,000th Daily Pic by Blake Gopnik
In honor of the Daily Pic's 1,000th post, I’m revisiting Velazquez’s “Las Meninas”, which was the “Pic” that got my project started. (Click here to see the image hugely enlarged.) Back in August of 2010, I climbed on my new soapbox and suggested that the work might be “The greatest picture in the Western world”, without giving reasons. A few months later, I spent a solid week with the canvas, then argued my position at rather great length. And now, even after one thousand Pics, I don’t have much to add, except to note how brilliantly the picture has refused to turn into the empty icon that the Mona Lisa and Michelangelo’s “David” have become. Velazquez’s masterpiece, dubbed “the theology of painting” shortly after it was made, is simply too rich and complex to bear compression into a fridge magnet’s mental space. Portions of the painting – the Infanta herself; her dog and dwarf – have suffered that fate, but the whole has mostly escaped it. The truth is, I feel more than a bit guilty trying to squeeze this endless work into the limits of a single Daily Pic. Better to think of it as the creative force that has lurked behind the last 999 of them.
For a full visual survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.