Surprisingly, as I started thinking about the most affecting pieces I've seen--those that evoke the strongest reactions and render me incapable of looking away--I realized there's a disproportionate number of sculptures and religious pieces. Whoda thunk? Here we go....
Woman in Flames, by Salvador Dali -- I particular love this one for the texture. The flames are sculpted right into the figure. This angle doesn't do it a whole lot of justice, but it's a beautiful piece.
What the Water Gave Me, by Frida Kahlo -- Kahlo's work is disturbing and raw. I admire her work for its looseness and freewheeling, gruesome style.
The Ancient of Days, by William Blake -- It's ridiculous for one man to be so damn talented. It's almost impossible for me to tear my eyes away from Blake's work. This is how I imagine God.
Piss Christ, by Andres Serrano -- And just as it sounds, this is a photo of a crucifix photographed through urine. It's gross, I know, but Serrano does an amazing job jarring the viewer out of his or her potential indifference toward the image of Christ. This simple, often mundane image, when taken out of its normal context comes roaring back to life. It is a beautiful image.
Nude Descending a Staircase, by Marcel Duchamp -- I just can't get over the movement in this painting despite the fact that it's all geometric shapes.
Pieta, by Michelangelo -- There's something about my favorite sculptures that renders me almost desperate to touch them. I would give a kidney to run my hands over those billowing piles of marble fabric.
The Ecstacy of St. Theresa, by Bernini -- Another beautiful, touchable sculpture. This one is oddly erotic and my first inclination has always been to turn away from images of it. But at the same time it's so alluring and beautiful. Especially with the bronze rays in the background.
The Dinner Party, by Judy Chicago -- I implore you to do a Google image search for this piece and look closely at the individual place settings. This is a room-sized installment with individual place settings for important women throughout history. Each setting is meticulously crafted with an individualized dinner plate, mat, etc. Just lovely.
Cathedral, by Jackson Pollock -- I have a religious sort of moment with this painting every time I go to see it at the Dallas Museum of Art. The energy in Pollock's paintings is the magical part for me. I can just imagine him crouched over the canvas feverishly dripping paint. Pollock's work really captures the rush of the artistic urge.
Beginning of the World, by Constantine Brancusi -- Perhaps my favorite of the lot. This one lives at the Dallas Museum of Art, too, and it's almost impossible for me not to touch it. The silky egg is almost too much for me to resist. I could stare at its glassy surface for hours.