Friday, 8 April 2016

A bucketful of Babel...

There’s a lot going on in the confusing state of affairs I call my life. Even so, along with all the drama I have long periods of empty time; well, I awake at six or earlier and just simply get up. Not because I want to - sleep would be a joy - but because the alternative is to worry and I hate worrying.

With all this extra early morning time on my hands I Google randomly. I’ve no idea what I would do without Google and today I Googled ‘best painting in the world’. I’ve no idea why I did that either, but life has become so random that I don’t really question why or what I do anymore. I just do it.

The ‘Best painting in the world’ turned out to be by Breugel. There were others in the search of course including the Mona Lisa (which incidentally is to my mind a pretty bland image, enigmatic smile or not), a couple of Van Goghs, The Girl With a Pearl Earring, The Scream and a few contemporary brightly coloured couples wandering through an abstracted Paris or Vienna.

Ah Breugel, I always come back to Breugel.

Perhaps it’s my Dutch peasant nose or those surreal TV landscapes in Neil Innes’ TV show back in the seventies that makes Breugel so special to me. Another person would have picked one of the Van Gogh’s, maybe there’s somebody out there that would have even picked the terrible painting of two white horses stood in a very green field by a very blue river. But I know that Breugel is in my very soul (yes, I really did just write that) despite never being completely sure just how to spell his name.

When I look at his Tower of Babel I see Dali and Cezanne, Rembrandt and Escher, I even see Reynolds and a little Turner. I seem to know its history instinctively, where it came from and why and who it has influenced since. It’s a marvel, just paint, brushes and canvas but look where it’s led us. Without this painting there would be no surrealism and, like a knocking-on domino effect, that would mean a very much smaller view of the world.

It really is the best painting in the world, or at least one of them, and it’s helped to form the world that we live in from sandcastle buckets to New York skyscrapers. 


  1. Ricardo Listeretti on FB
    The Scapegoat - Holman Hunt.

    Andrew Height
    I prefer this one at Port Sunlight than the other version in Manchester Art Gallery. What is with the rainbow with that one?

    Ricardo Listeretti
    Me too. I prefer the more muted colours and the size & scale - this was seen as the finished work & the one that was exhibited. The rainbow on the small version is a distraction.

  2. Gloria Brown on FB
    Gloria Brown's photo.

    1. Andrew Height
      Ha ha. Now that is an enigmatic smile!


    2. Gloria Brown
      I wanted you to smile

    3. Andrew Height
      Thanks. I need it at the moment.


    4. Gloria Brown
      You have had far too many empty days !

    5. Gloria Brown
      I know how it feels to wake up at 5.30!!

  3. Tim Preston on FB
    Yes he's quite good but as a teenager I always liked this painting
    Tim Preston's photo.

  4. Richard Shore on FB
    Turner is simply amazing, although I'm finding myself a very late convert to cubism

    1. Andrew Height
      Yes Turner was amazing. No detail at all, but everything is there.