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The 100 best paintings in New York: 80-71

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

Written by
Time Out New York contributors
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The Temptation of Christ on the Mountain (1308-1311), Duccio di Buoninsegna
Photograph: Michael Bodycomb

80. The Temptation of Christ on the Mountain (1308-1311), Duccio di Buoninsegna

Where can I see it?: The Frick Collection

This panel illustrating the life of Christ was part of a large altarpiece in Siena called The Maesta. The kingdoms of the world offered by the Devil are diminutive compared to the oversize figures. Known for his complex compositions and soft handling of flesh, Duccio is considered the father of Sienese painting and by extension Western Art.—Jennifer Coates 

Photograph: Michael Bodycomb

Oedipus and the Sphinx (1864), Gustave Moreau
Photograph: Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Bequest of William H. Herriman

79. Oedipus and the Sphinx (1864), Gustave Moreau

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

Moreau was the breakout star of the Salon of 1864 with his interpretation of Oedipus meeting the Sphinx on the road to Delphi. The artist rejected the naturalistic style prevalent in the day, looking instead to earlier works by artists like Ingres and adding elements of what would become known as Symbolism.—Heather Corcoran

Photograph: Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Bequest of William H. Herriman

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The Subway (1950), George Tooker
Photograph: Courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Juliana Force Purchase Award 50.23 © Estate of George Tooker, Courtesy of DC Moore Gallery, New York

78. The Subway (1950), George Tooker

Where can I see it?: Whitney Museum of American Art

An intimate of Paul Cadmus and Jared French, George Tooker was, like French, a Magical Realist who employed the technically demanding medium of egg tempera. He was also gay, though his work, in capturing a postwar sense of alienation and unease, veered more toward Thanatos than Eros. This painting is Tooker’s best known, and its depiction of straphangers moving somnambulantly through a carceral realm of tiled hallways and staircases suggests an odd cocktail of Piero della Francesca and M.C. Escher. A classic of its genre.—Howard Halle 

Photograph: Courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Juliana Force Purchase Award 50.23 © Estate of George Tooker, Courtesy of DC Moore Gallery, New York

’61 Pontiac (1968–69), Robert Bechtle
Photograph: Courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Richard and Dorothy Rodgers Fund 70.16 © Robert Bechtle

77. ’61 Pontiac (1968–69), Robert Bechtle

Where can I see it?: Whitney Museum of American Art

Bay Area painter Robert Bechtle could be described as the great luminist of midcentury suburban America. His work revels in the light bouncing off that most conspicuous symbol of the era’s prosperity: the family car. However, his paintings have never been characterized by the sharply delineated, dazzling reflections that are such a feature of ’70s Photorealism, a genre he has been often—and wrongly—associated with. Rather color, as in this self-portrait of the artist with his family, seems to emanate from the surface of the canvas—most notably in the creamy tones of the station wagon that stands just behind the young couple and their small children, unifying them with the composition. As in the best of the Dutch still-life tradition, ’61 Pontiac is a scene in which the matter-of-fact becomes transcendent.—Howard Halle

Photograph: Courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Richard and Dorothy Rodgers Fund 70.16 © Robert Bechtle

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The Judgment of Paris (1528), Lucas Cranach the Elder
Photograph: Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Rogers Fund

76. The Judgment of Paris (1528), Lucas Cranach the Elder

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

Cranach the Elder was an enthusiastic supporter of Martin Luther, but Protestant rectitude did not preclude him from painting female nudes. In fact, he limned nine versions of The Judgment of Paris. The story relates history’s first beauty pageant, with a golden apple figuring as the prize contested by Hera, Athena and Aphrodite. Asked to be judge, Zeus, knowing a no-win situation when he saw one, dumps the job on Paris, Prince of Troy. In Cranach’s rendering, a crystal globe substitutes for the golden apple, while a tree on the left offers a nice compositional counterpoint to the three goddesses clustered on the right. They look so much alike, one can surmise that they’re the same model—suggesting that Cranach’s naked aim is an examination of female anatomy, front, rear and side.—Howard Halle

Photograph: Courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Rogers Fund

Portrait of the Boy Eutyches (100–150)
Photograph:; © The Metropolitan Museum of Art; New York; Gift of Edward S. Harkness; 1918

75. Portrait of the Boy Eutyches (100–150)

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

This painting of a young Egyptian lad is what is known as a Faiyum portrait, named for an oasis south of modern Cairo. Created using an encaustic technique of mixing pigments with beeswax that produces radiant colors akin to oil paint, these portraits of the dead were placed over the faces of mummies.—Heather Corcoran

Photograph: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art; New York; Gift of Edward S. Harkness; 1918

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Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1906), Gustav Klimt
Photograph: Neue Galerie New York/Estates of Ferdinand and Adele Bloch-Bauer

74. Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1906), Gustav Klimt

Where can I see it?: Neue Galerie

A striking example of Klimt’s golden period, this elaborate Judgendstil portrait of a Viennese society lady was once the most expensive painting in the world. It is the Neue Galerie’s crown jewel—museum director Renée Price has likened its importance to the institution to the Mona Lisa at the Louvre.—Heather Corcoran

Photograph: Neue Galerie New York/Estates of Ferdinand and Adele Bloch-Bauer

Lodovico Capponi (1550–1555), Agnolo Bronzino
Photograph: Michael Bodycomb

73. Lodovico Capponi (1550–1555), Agnolo Bronzino

Where can I see it?: The Frick Collection

Medici court painter Bronzino captured this young nobleman in the elegant Mannerist style, easily seen in the figure’s gracefully elongated fingers and small head. The carefully rendered details capture the fashion of the day, yet Bronzino leaves nary a trace of his brushstrokes in the illusionistic folds of fabric.—Heather Corcoran

Photograph: Michael Bodycomb

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Woman Ironing, La Repasseuse (1904), Pablo Picasso
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Thannhauser Collection, Gift, Justin K. Thannhauser © 2012 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Photo: Kristopher McKay © The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York

72. Woman Ironing, La Repasseuse (1904), Pablo Picasso

Where can I see it?: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

This image from Picasso’s blue period—named for both the color and the mood of his work—shows a favorite subject of the time, the downtrodden worker. She appears nearly weightless in a lengthened Mannerist style, and stylized in a way that hints at the artist’s later experiments with abstraction.—Heather Corcoran

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Thannhauser Collection, Gift, Justin K. Thannhauser © 2012 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Photo: Kristopher McKay © The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York

Woman with Yellow Hair (1931), Pablo Picasso
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Thannhauser Collection, Gift, Justin K. Thannhauser 78.2514 © 2007 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

71. Woman with Yellow Hair (1931), Pablo Picasso

Where can I see it?: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Picasso was fond of depicting Marie-Thérèse Walter while she slept, because he thought it captured her in her most vulnerable, intimate state. Here, she lays her head on an arm that looks like a fleshy, sensual extension of her flaxen locks.—Howard Halle

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Thannhauser Collection, Gift, Justin K. Thannhauser 78.2514 © 2007 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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