Must see works of art . . .

What would you consider to be essential viewing/listening/reading? I’m talkin’ literature, movies, books, music, and whatever else you feel to be artistic. Not just OK, but I’m talking the greatest of all these art forms. Things that you’re missing out on if you don’t read/see them.

I imagine (hope) the views will be diverse. I’m hoping to get a good reading list from this, and find some good titles to rent. I’m making up a list of my own, I just want to rack my brain a little before I post it.

DaLovin’ Dj

Let’s see…as far as theater goes, I’d have to recommend Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett. It’s easily my favorite play, and definitely on the “you-have-to-read-this-list”. You might want to do some background reading first, so you know what to expect.

That’s all I can think of right now. I’ll see if I can’t come up with something later on.

Everyone should read “The Dharma Bums” by Jack Kerouac. It is beauty put in words, ecstacy in paragraphs.

Also, the movie “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery” is a work of art that everyone should watch. Humor is definately an art form.


You won’t find this stuff in art galleries, so if you’re looking for that kind of thing, I can’t help you, heh…This is stuff people should give a chance, despite it being in formats generally thought of as not REAL art:

Go to a comic store and check out Blade of the Immortal, of which I’ve scanned 4 pages from (and use these to tell people to go check it out), for it’s got some of the best art and brilliant characters, storytelling, timing, everything:

Video/DVD-wise, see if you can find “Samurai X: Trust”, which is beautiful to watch…smooth animation, lots of dramatic shots, great characters, etc. Some info on it is at (well, it’s more of a DVD review, heh)

  • Tsugumo

hmmmmm as far as works of art, my favorite painting is “Cupid and Psyche” by David…it’s in the Cleveland Museum of Art. That smug look that Cupid has on his face…argh!

movies: American Beauty, Fight Club, Kids (they should show this in health classes in about nineth grade…I remember watching it at a friends house and just sitting there in silence after it was over.)

As far as books go: EVERYONE must read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Gallaxy series by Douglas Adams…pure genius…

Let’s see… the last book I read that I just can’t get out of my head was Towing Jehovah by James Morrow. The synopsis sounded plain silly to me to be honest, but it was great! Especially is you are in to theology, philosophy, etc. (It is a novel, but brings up some stuff to think about.)

This is not the time to push your favorite novels or your favorite crappy manga. There is an actual term for this sort of request. Art historians sometimes refer to “The Canon” as a shorthand notation for the list of works of art you must be familiar with in order to be well educated in the field. Any conventional art history book will start out with the Venus of Willendorf and the Caves of Lascaux and end up somewhere around the WWII era (it’s too soon for these works to enter the Canon). You don’t have to know ALL these works intimately, but you better know them because all the other artists know them, and use them as reference points in their works.
BTW, there have been quite a few lists of the literary Canon. Here’s one interesting list that I’ve seen floating around the net (note: no kerouac or manga)
Hahahahahahahaha…that’s GREAT!

Interesting as a subject for debate, certainly – I know I have a couple of quibbles with their Shakespeare choices (what, no King Lear?)

With only 100 entries, you gotta cut somewhere. Maybe you’d like this list better, it has 500 works.
I notice that they list items like “Shakespeare: Tragedies” so Lear is mentioned by default.
You really should search Google for lists of this type, it’s a real hoot. I input “greatest books” and one of the hits I got back was “The Top 10 Greatest Books Of All Time About Fish.”

My apologies. I thought by “What would you consider”, “and whatever else you feel to be artistic”, and “I imagine (hope) the views will be diverse”, he wanted some unusual answers, rather than the standard list of popular “real” art. I foolishly forgot that nothing is worthy of being seen/read until someone at a University declares it so, long after the creators are dead. I’ll try not to make a horrible mistake like this again.

  • Tsugumo

Book- To Kill a Mockingbird
Play- Death of a Salesman
movie- Shawshank Redemption
music- Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band
Painting- The Crowning of Napoleon by Louis David
Comic- Watchmen by Alan Moore (a true work of literature)
TV Show- None come to mind as “art”

You manga people bug me. You think manga and anime is the be-all and end-all of the arts. Guess what? Even the people who make this crap don’t think it’s art. And you haven’t got a clue about what is really happening in these stories, if you haven’t read any Japanese literature.
Let me know if someday you manage to read some of the real classics of Japanese literature. Like:
Genji Monogatari
Heike Monogatari
Izu no Odoriko
Wagahai wa neko de aru
Makura no soshi
Hyakkunin Isshu
etc etc. You know, if you read some of the classics, you might actually know what the hell is going on in your manga. Even in your short 5 pages of copyright violation, I noticed brief references to themes from Chuushingura.
Go back and read the OP. This is a request for “essential” artworks. There aint no comic ever written that is “essential.”

Hey look, I’m sorry if you’ve got a stick up your butt about this, but don’t take it out on me. I never said anime/manga were the be-all and end-all of the arts. I simply said they were worth checking out.

That’s quite the claim. I’ll just take your word for it though, because you’re clearly more knowledgable than I am.

I must have skipped over the introduction to every issue of every comic where it lists the other literature a person is required to read to understand the story.

I do feel bad about scanning in the 4 pages, but I find most people who hear “manga” instantly go off on “you manga/anime people all suck you stupid stuck up snobs who think it’s the be-all end-all of art when it’s actually total crap and you have no idea what you’re talking about” rants, so I figure showing a page of it allows a person to judge for themselves if they like the art and might be interested in picking up an issue.

That’s nice. I was able to enjoy the story without having read Chuushingura. I’ll bet the creator of the comic would be happy to hear that.


  • Tsugumo (sorry to anyone reading the thread for dragging this out slightly by replying, but while I have no problem with people disliking anime/manga, I have a problem with people who jump down my throat for even suggesting my opinion is worth something)

Art-wise, I highly, highly recommend the new Cone Collection in the Baltimore Museum of Art. It was under renovation until last May, and the finished product is awe-inspiring. The Cone sisters were local art collectors who courted Matisse and Cezanne during their early years; the Matisse collection features “Blue Nude,” one of his most famous, and every other Matisse you can imagine. (I cannot possibly name all of them, but most of them are there). They also feature a revolving Cezanne exhibition with extremely rare sketches and writings - they switch it about because it can’t be exposed to too much light.

As for books, I recommend:
[li]Shakespare - if I have to narrow it down, I recommend Antony and Cleopatra and Hamlet. But most of his works are a worthwhile read.[/li][li]Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy (Russian Lit)[/li][li]The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain (AmLit)[/li][li]The Diary of Anne Frank, Anne Frank (Holocaust Lit)[/li][li]Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston (Black Lit)[/li][li]Steppenwolf, Herman Hess (German Lit? Just an overall good read)[/li][li]Sophia’s Choice, William Styron (AmLit/Holocaust Lit)[/li][li]David Copperfield, Charles Dickens (BritLit)[/li][li]Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte (BritLit)[/li][li]The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. DuBois (AmLit/Black Lit)[/li][li]Up From Slavery, Booker T. Washington (AmLit/Black Lit)[/li][li]Slaughterhouse Five Or The Children’s Crusade, Kurt Vonnegut (Modern Lit)[/li][li]The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde (BritLit)[/li][li]Collected Works, T.S.Eliot (Modern Lit/Brit Lit)[/li][li]The Simile of the Cave, Plato (Classic Lit)[/li][/ul]

Most of my English classes are seperated into such categories, and I tried to pick the most enjoyable and important works from each grouping. I avoided early BritLit (like Chaucer) because I hate it; maybe someone else can help you there. I’m also not a huge fan of the classics (except Plato; I love Plato), so any expert in that area can help more than me.

[li]Rainer Maria Rilke, the Duino Elegies[/li][li]Stephen Dunn, Collected Works or Between Angels[/li][li]T.S. Eliot - read it all. The man is pure genius.[/li][li]Elizabeth Barret Browning, The Portugese Sonnets and Aurora Leigh[/li][li]Robert Browning, Fra Lippo Lippi and The Bishop Orders His Tomb…[/li][li]Deborah Garrison, A Working Girl Can’t Win (note: daLovinDJ, I know you will love her. She’s a New Yorker with a kick-ass rap/rhythm flow)[/li][li]Mark Doty, My Alexandria[/li][li]Alexander Pope - An Essay on Criticism and The Rape of the Lock (this man is the most incredibly beautiful classical poet I can imagine. He is pure genius.)[/li][li]Shakespeare - The Rape of Lucrece[/li][/ul]

Hope that helps. :slight_smile:

That’s because the native audience knows these stories by heart, there is no need to inform them. Japanese literature is unique in perhaps one respect, it requires the reader to supply most of the meaning from knowledge they already posess. No western lit is like this. Without the background knowledge, you will be clueless about what is happening. I can’t count all the occasions when some otaku comes to me with some comic and I have to inform them they’re completely mistaken about the meaning of the story.

Anyway, to get back to something less moronic than comic books, if I had to pick one survey of the most concentrated, dense survey of modern visual art, I’d recommend trying to buy the catalog of the inaugural show of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, must have been about 1988 or so. It should still be available through their bookstore. I saw this exhibit (I went about 20 times, it was up for a full year) and it had EVERYTHING. The catalog is excellent.
BTW, that list of Japanese lit I posted was pretty good. Most of these books are available in English translations.
Another good list of essentials I found (with the help of an SDMB member) is the NME Top 100 Albums Of All Time:
This is not your typical album list.

From this, I’m forced to conclude either that Homer was Japanese, or that you’ve never read The Illiad. I rather suspect it’s the latter.

Chas, will you get off the otaku hobbyhorse? It’s dead, and any amount of flogging will not make it run.

Quite apart from that, dalovindj’s OP said “What would you consider to be essential viewing/listening/reading? I’m talkin’ literature, movies, books, music, and whatever else you feel to be artistic.” He wasn’t asking for “The Canon”; he was asking for our opinions. Tsugumo felt anime/manga was worth a mention. Where’s the problem? And before you answer that, bear in mind, it’s perfectly possible to enjoy anime without proclaiming yourself an authority on Japanese, learning to speak Japanese from anime or anything else that’s led to you ranting in the past (or needing to read Japanese literature, for that matter). We’re all going to put stuff up for consideration; you might not agree with it, but that’s no reason to be rude.

That said, I’ll put up a few:

Music: Henryk Gorecki’s Symphony Number 3, otherwise known as Symphony of Sorrowful Songs. Composed in 1976, it’s achingly beautiful. Also his Opus 44 aka Miserere. Solo voice, a text of only five words (Domine Deus noster, Miserere nobis), beginning simply and ending with incredibly complex ten-part harmony. The impact of either of these pieces is stunning.

Stage musicals: Rent. Talk about passion on stage. The shame of it is, it’s really only three-quarters finished - the storyline could use a little tidying up here and there and I’m sure Larson would have gotten around to that had he lived longer.

Books: I’ll echo To Kill a Mockingbird. If you have a fantasy bent, Lord of the Rings - the sheer scale of creation is amazing, if nothing else.

I still gotta throw Watchmen out there. Have you ever read it?

And I’ll throw three more:

R. Crumb’s ZAP No. 0


Chester Brown’s I NEVER LIKED YOU