As long as humans exist, art, too, will. Among the millions born with an innate talent for art, only some remain etched in art history. Why is that?
Ponder over it later because now, you go through some of these Famous artists in history who brought about enormous changes in people’s lives and conventional art styles. Art is indeed a way of survival, as proved by these revolutionary artists.
10 Famous Artists in History Who Captured the Human Spirit
1. Frida Kahlo
Masterpieces: The Two Fridas, The Wounded Deer, Self-portraits
Frida Kahlo’s works with their perfect representation of female experience and questioning of stereotypes inspired feminists. As an asserting bisexual, she is an emblem of the LGBTQ community. After she got into the communist party of Mexico, she fought for the rights of Mexican women. She was one of the bravest artists of all time.
Affected by polio early in life, her leg was impaired. A few years later, her desire to get into medicine also failed after an accident left her severely injured. Despite these struggles, this powerful woman took refuge in art. She expressed her tortured mental state in the 50 amazing self-portraits.
Influenced by Mexican romantic nationalism, her works uphold Mexican traditions and culture. As a part of the magic realism, they burst with imagery and symbolism. By breaking the social construct of women in the early 20th century, she became a revolutionary icon. She is one of the few women who entered the list of famous artists in history.
2. Henri Matisse
Masterpieces: Woman with a Hat, Portrait of Madame Matisse. The Green Line and The Dinner Table
Henri Matisse is known to be one of the leading French painters of the 20th century. He largely contributed to modern art. Introduction to Impressionism and the post-impressionist painter Van Gogh’s artworks inspired him to throw away the traditional painting scenery and portraits.
He began to experiment with new forms. His was an uncontrolled use of a wide range of unusual colors detached from each other to express emotions. Interestingly, this art style was criticized as Les Fauves, meaning wild beasts. Thus, Henry Matisse founded the avant-garde art movement of Fauvism.
He focused on flat, unrefined painting. He produced sculptures and graphic art also. He found a new interest in “painting with scissors in later life,” as he called it. He cut out color papers and crafted collages on the wall. Thus, among the famous artists in history, he made an unparalleled contribution to the world of fine arts.
Related: Go through his paintings here
3. Jackson Pollock:
Masterpieces: Blue Poles, Number 17A and She-wolf
Do you think there is no painting without a paintbrush? Then check out this innovative technique used by Jameson Pollock. He was an American abstract expressionist painter who initiated avant-garde styles. He was one of the most innovative artists of all time.
He employed action or drip painting which helped him paint from any angle on a plane surface without brushes. He threw paint all over it and used tools for depth, resulting in extreme and raw abstractness standing for human or social conditions and moods.
Mixing image and form made them more complex than they seemed. Later he turned to work with darker colors. He even started using numbered titles instead of names to encourage the unprejudiced reading of his works.
4. Edvard Munch:
Masterpieces: The Sick Child, The Scream, and the Frieze of Life
Born in Norway, Edvard Munch had a troubled youth. Despite his father’s objection, he joined the art school, where the anti-conventional bohemian culture inspired him. He turned to soul painting, i.e., revealing his inner state using savage lines. Elements of the human psyche and abstract themes like love, life, and death figure in his works. He was one of the most expressive artists of all time.
Each incident in his life spoke through his famous paintings, like his sister’s death in The Sick Child. His frequent traveling and interaction with the external world influenced his works. His works are thick with symbolism, as in “The Scream,” which symbolizes the trauma of the human condition.
As one of the famous artists in history, he often repainted the same work. The scream has four versions. His series of works, the Frieze of Life, unfolds a tale of love and death. Besides painting, he was a renowned printmaker. Hitler considered his art to be “degenerate”. He influenced other famous artists in history like American Andy Warhol.
Masterpieces: The Last Judgment, The Pieta, Moses
Italian Renaissance and western art saw the rise of genius in the form of Michelangelo. He was the ideal Renaissance man who left his mark in the world of arts and sciences. He grew up in Florence, the heart of art and learning. He was an expert sculptor, architect, and poet too. He designed the dome of St Peter’s Basilica. He was one of the most elegant artists of all time.
His famous works on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel are mind-blowing. A second look beyond the aesthetics of the Creation of Adam shows you God and his angels subtly blended with a perfect model of the human brain. It also hints at reproduction. Remember that this was painted in the early 14th century.
The fact that he dug out corpses to study the human anatomy explains this astonishing discovery almost four centuries later. Also, science on the ceiling of a church points out his passion for science and criticism of the church’s rejection of science.
Masterpieces: The Return of the Prodigal Son, Night Watch, Self-portraits
A Dutch national, Rembrandt discovered his passion for art in his prime. He was successful as an art teacher and dealer. Alongside this, he also honed his skill and soon became a professional portrait artist, admired for his works for years to come.
Apart from this, he dealt with various themes, including landscapes, Bible events, self-portraits, and animals. His portraits are known for their realistic and emotional duplication of faces as a camera captures them as they are without any imaginative idealization.
The peculiar blend of light and shadows Chiaroscuro brings them alive with a 3D illusion. As an art enthusiast, he was a spendthrift when it came to paintings. In the end, he died after several heartbreaks and torn wallets, yet with 800 quirky artworks placing him next to the famous artists in history.
7. Vincent Van Gogh
Masterpieces: Sunflowers, The Potato Eaters, and Café Terrace At Night
Vincent Van Gogh, a post-impressionist painter, did not meet fame when he lived. As an introvert, he spent a lot of time painting and unleashing his intense creativity informed by a deep love for nature and humanity. He produced 2000 even artworks, maybe more! Extreme depression and psychosis ate him, as seen in his self-portraits. He was one of the most enigmatic artists of all time.
He moved from a middle-class art dealer and missionary to a poor, unrecognized genius. His brother stood by him in his lonely life, and his personality is revealed in his letters to his brother. Most works that were criticized in the latter half of the 19th century were later declared masterpieces. Because of this, many of his works are lost.
His artworks are marked by their vivid colors, unique brushstrokes, and multiple layers, which bring them to life. What he needed came too late. This “madman” suffered throughout his life and died by suicide in his prime age of 37. Today, his paintings are priceless.
8. Leonardo Da Vinci
Masterpieces: Mona Lisa, the Last Supper, Vitruvian Man, and Salvator Mundi
The chief of all trades, Leonardo Da Vinci, is everything a man can strive to be. Physically and mentally appealing, he is supposed to be a homosexual. Michelangelo’s contemporary, he left us with notes along with his creations. There’s hardly any person who hasn’t seen the Mona Lisa.
As seen in ‘The Vitruvian Man’ and ‘The Last Supper’, his scientific intelligence is astonishing. Almost all of his works have an aura of mystery. Even today, some hidden secret is being decoded by researchers. The smile of the Mona Lisa has left the entire world puzzled.
The hidden numbers and symmetry, which add up to new things, are no less mysterious and make him one of the famous artists in history. Engineering, architecture, anatomy, geology, optics, and hydrodynamics are his other fields of interest. He also tried his hand at inventing new things like machines, the blueprints of which fell prey to time. He is among the earliest and most mysterious famous artists in history.
9. Salvador Dali:
Masterpieces: Persistence of Memory, the Burning Giraffe, Christ of Saint John of the Cross
Surrealism is related to magic realism, only differing in terms of focus. It uses the subconscious, dreamlike state while magic realism captures the mysteriousness of the external world. The greatest of surrealist painters in the Spanish mustache-man: Salvador Dali.
The subjects of his paintings are the unnatural pictures that creep into his mind in the subconscious state. He holds a spoon before falling asleep to enter this state, which drops when he moves from the dream state to the sleep state and wakes up from the noise.
He then vividly sees the surreal picture, which etches itself on his head and replicates it in paintings. Bizarre at first notice, they contain great depth. He explores his sexuality in the great masturbator. The persistence of memory takes us to a place where time does not exist.
10. Claude Monet
Masterpieces: Poppies, Woman with a parasol, Impression Sunrise
Claude Monet, born in France, sowed the seeds for French Impressionist painting. Short, quick strokes threw away the traditional painting method. He used divided bright colors and painted without rules.
Paintings preceded the invention of cameras and video cameras. In his paintings, he tried to capture a film-like view of French landscape with multiple paintings of the same scene at different times and seasons. Lily Pond is one such painting.
Experiments with contrasting colors helped him capture the visible and transparent weather elements like sunlight and mist. He saw hardships in his life in the form of the financial crisis, the death of his beloved, and the weakening of his eyesight towards the dusk of his life.
11. Pablo Picasso
Masterpieces: Guernica, The Weeping Woman, The Old Guitarist.
A listicle of artists can never be complete without the name of Pablo Picasso. Born in Spain, Pablo Picasso was a prodigal genius. He was a painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramist and theatre designer.
Pablo Picasso founded the Cubist movement, wherein objects are reconstructed in abstract arrangments. He was an important figure in promoting collage art.
His work evolved through various stages like the Blue Period, Rose period and so on. His style evolved from neoclassical to surreal and further. Pablo Picasso was undoubtedly one of the most influential artists of all time in the 20th century.
12. Edgar Degas
Masterpieces: The Ballet Class, The Blue Dancers, In a Cafe.
Edgar Degas, born in France, was famous for pastel drawings and oil paintings. He was really good at depicting movement in his paintings.
Edgar Degas painted a lot of dancers, racing horses and jockeys, which allowed him to work on his motion element. Edgar Degas can be classified as an impressionist. But he rejected that label and preferred to call himself a realist.
The selection of twelve people as famous artists in history doesn’t mean they are the only ones. However, they are true geniuses who rose above all boundaries of imagination and captured the unimaginable on a shallow surface. Some were recognized instantly, while others gained fame decades later. But in the end, all of them had an incredible impact on the world of art.