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The 100 best paintings in New York: 100-91

Leading artists, gallery owners, curators and critics pick the best paintings to be seen in NYC

By Time Out New York contributors
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The Persistence of Memory (1931), Salvador Dalí
The Persistence of Memory (1931), Salvador Dalí
Photograph: Courtesy The Museum of Modern Art; NY. © 2015 Salvador Dalí; Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation / ARS; New York

100. The Persistence of Memory (1931), Salvador Dalí

Where can I see it?: Museum of Modern Art

Dalí described his meticulously rendered works as “hand-painted dream photographs,” and certainly, the melted watches that make their appearance in this Surrealist masterpiece have become familiar symbols of that moment when reverie seems to uncannily invade the everyday. The coast of the artist’s native Catalonia serves as the backdrop for this landscape of time, in which infinity and decay are held in equipoise. As for the odd, rubbery creature in the center of the composition, it’s the artist himself, or rather his profile, stretched and flattened like Silly Putty.—Howard Halle

Photograph: Courtesy the Museum of Modern Art; NY. © 2015 Salvador Dalí; Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation / ARS; New York

Drowning Girl (1963), Roy Lichtenstein
Drowning Girl (1963), Roy Lichtenstein
Photograph: Courtesy The Museum of Modern Art; NY. © 2015 Salvador Dalí; Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation / ARS; New York

99. Drowning Girl (1963), Roy Lichtenstein

Where can I see it?: Museum of Modern Art

Lichtenstein’s Pop icon is at once a coolly ironic deconstruction of pulp melodrama and a formally dynamic—even moving—composition, thanks largely to the interplay of the subject’s hair (swept into a perfect Mad Men–era coif) and the waves (which seem to have wandered in from a Hokusai print) threatening her. The image, a crop from a panel in an early-’60s comic book titled Run for Love!, shows that Lichtenstein is in full command of his style, employing not only his well-known Ben-Day dots but also bold black lines corralling areas of deep blue. A complete stunner.—Howard Halle

Photograph: Courtesy the Museum of Modern Art; NY. © 2015 Salvador Dalí; Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation / ARS; New York

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Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair (1940), Frida Kahlo
Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair (1940), Frida Kahlo
Photograph: Courtesy The Museum of Modern Art; NY. © 2015 Salvador Dalí; Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation / ARS; New York

98. Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair (1940), Frida Kahlo

Where can I see it?: Museum of Modern Art

This gender-bending self-portrait by the celebrated Mexican artist and feminist icon was occasioned by her divorce from Diego Rivera, the muralist notable not only for his own artistic genius but for his philandering ways. Kahlo had apparently enough of the latter but, as the painting indicates, she couldn’t quite quit Rivera. She pictures herself in a chair, hair shorn, with her signature peasant blouse and skirt replaced by Rivera’s clothes, effectively transforming herself into her ex-husband’s likeness. Unsurprisingly, Kahlo remarried Rivera the following year, so this weirdly compelling painting could also be described as a monument to codependency.—Howard Halle

Photograph: Courtesy the Museum of Modern Art; NY. © 2015 Salvador Dalí; Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation / ARS; New York

Wrist Corsage (1996), Lisa Yuskavage
Wrist Corsage (1996), Lisa Yuskavage
Photograph: Courtesy MoMA/ © 2015 Lisa Yuskavage

97. Wrist Corsage (1996), Lisa Yuskavage

Where can I see it?: Museum of Modern Art

Part of a generation of Yale painters to embrace the figure, Yuskavage focuses on exaggerated nudes that question ideals about the female body. In this piece, a pneumatic nude of Kardashian proportion provides a stark contrast to a young girl in the photograph pinned to the wall.—Heather Corcoran

Photograph: Courtesy MoMA/ © 2015 Lisa Yuskavage

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Still Life with Plums (1730), Jean-Simeon Chardin
Still Life with Plums (1730), Jean-Simeon Chardin
Michael Bodycomb

96. Still Life with Plums (1730), Jean-Simeon Chardin

Where can I see it?: The Frick Collection

This painting is a classic example of Chardin’s almost architectural compositions that depict objects from everyday middle-class life. He eschewed the pervading Rococo style of his time in favor of simplicity and humble directness. This work permeates with spirituality and subtle meaning rather than spelling out grand religious narratives.—Jennifer Coates

Photograph: Michael Bodycomb

Jacob’s Ladder (1957), Helen Frankenthaler
Jacob’s Ladder (1957), Helen Frankenthaler
The Museum of Modern Art, NY. Gift of Hyman N. Glickstein © 2015 Helen Frankenthaler / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

95. Jacob’s Ladder (1957), Helen Frankenthaler

Where can I see it?: Museum of Modern Art

In the vibrant New York art scene of the 1950s, Frankenthaler developed her own brand of Abstract Expressionism, working on unprimed canvas placed directly on the floor and diluting her pigments with turpentine so they soaked directly into the canvas rather then rested upon it.—Heather Corcoran

Photograph: Courtesy the Museum of Modern Art, NY. Gift of Hyman N. Glickstein © 2015 Helen Frankenthaler / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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Bashi-Bazouk (1868–69), Jean-Léon Gérôme
Bashi-Bazouk (1868–69), Jean-Léon Gérôme
Trujillo; Juan

94. Bashi-Bazouk (1868–69), Jean-Léon Gérôme

Where can I see it?: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

In the second half of the 19th century, Gérôme was a holdout from the academic style amid the emergence of the Impressionist avant-garde. He is best known for his historic and Orientalist subjects, like this lushly rendered painting of an unpaid Ottoman mercenary or “bashi-bazouk,” which translates to “crazy head.”—Heather Corcoran

Photograph: Trujillo; Juan

The Toilers of the Sea (1880–1885), Albert Pinkham Ryder
The Toilers of the Sea (1880–1885), Albert Pinkham Ryder
Photograph: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art; New York; George A. Hearn Fund; 1915

93. The Toilers of the Sea (1880–1885), Albert Pinkham Ryder

Where can I see it?: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

With his use of tonalism to evoke emotion in his otherworldly land and seascapes, Ryder was an idiosyncratic American artist who foreshadowed modernist ideas. In this piece, the ochre glow of the full moon casts its dramatic light across a stormy sea and the simplistic suggestion of a boat.—Heather Corcoran

Photograph: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art; New York; George A. Hearn Fund; 1915

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Prelude to Farewell (1981), Romare Bearden
Prelude to Farewell (1981), Romare Bearden
Photograph: Gift of Altria Group; Inc./Studio Museum

92. Prelude to Farewell (1981), Romare Bearden

Where can I see it?: Studio Museum in Harlem

Bearden’s collages blend elements of Dadaist photomontage with the planes of Cubism, iconography from Southern American folk art and African traditions, not to mention the energy of jazz and city life. A cultural commenter as well as an artist, he created a new, symbol-laden language for depicting black life in 20th-century America.—Heather Corcoran

Photograph: Gift of Altria Group; Inc./Studio Museum

The City Rises (1910), Umberto Boccioni
The City Rises (1910), Umberto Boccioni
The Museum of Modern Art, NY. Mrs. Simon Guggenheim Fund

91. The City Rises (1910), Umberto Boccioni

Where can I see it?: Museum of Modern Art

This is the first major futurist work by Boccioni. Depicting a power plant in construction, he has abandoned naturalism to express technology through electrified paint handling. Man and mythical oversized animal work together in flux and dynamic energy to build the city: the utopian ideal of futurists before World War I.—Jennifer Coates

Photograph: Courtesy the Museum of Modern Art, NY. Mrs. Simon Guggenheim Fund

Continue to numbers 90-81 in our list of the 100 best paintings
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