Who were the most famous painters of the great 20th century? | Sunday Observer

Who were the most famous painters of the great 20th century?

21 February, 2021

One of the most comprehensive volumes on famous painters and artists of the 20th century, this readable and encyclopaedic masterwork ranges across the full spectrum of disciplines available, including photography and new media, and thematically chaptered to highlight relationships between works and movements. Whether you want Surrealism or Land Art, Fluxus or Bauhaus, this is your be-all, end-all guide to art of the 20th century. An undertaking as immensely ambitious as this one deserves to be owned by everyone. Author Ingo F. Walther’s many other titles for TASCHEN include Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Art of the 20th Century, and Codices illustres.


Kazimir Malevich  - The supreme artist

Not only did he rebel against the dominating Social Realism, he also went against tradition in painting in general.

Kazimir Malevich is the legendary creator of Suprematism and paintings like White on White and Black Square on White Ground which in the mid-1910s shook the art world to its core.

For Kazimir Malevich, painting had to be free of social or political content, pure aesthetic, focused solely on its own form, line, shape and colour, looking to evoke that ultimate subliminal feeling in its viewer.

In 1912, he proclaimed himself a ‘Cubo-Futurist’ artist, under the influence of the two movements at their peak at the time.

Eventually, however, he returned to representational painting, although his Suprematism still left a deep mark on the future of art both in the Soviet Union and beyond.


Pablo Picasso - The Father of Cubism

Could we possibly imagine the history of 20th century painting without his Les Demoiselles d’Avignon or Guernica? Would today’s art market make sense? Hardly, because Pablo Picasso is arguably the greatest figure of modernism and co-creator of one of the most influential movements - Cubism. He’s the man who made us look at our entire existence in a completely different way, as he introduced multiple points of view and various interpretations of a single subject. Pablo Picasso’s art, influenced by French Impressionist art at the dawn of the century, spanned a number of periods, such as the Blue and the Rose, and had a great impact on the further development of not just painting, but also sculpture, ceramics and printmaking.


Frida Kahlo - Painting painful reality

When someone spends their entire life in pain, art becomes like a getaway. For Frida Kahlo, it was simply like having a visual diary, a vividly painful depiction of the things that she endured. A fierce Mexican and a hopeless romantic, she created striking self-portraits filled with symbols, meanings, interpretations and references, at the same time deeply personal and outspokenly political. Somewhere between surrealism, realism and symbolism, the art of Frida Kahlo elicits tenderness, femininity and the strength of a unique spirit, the feminine quality of truth, reality, cruelty and suffering. Her husband, painter Diego Rivera, once described it: ”Never before had a woman put such agonised poetry on canvas as Frida.”


Jackson Pollock of abstract expressionism

Considered one of the greatest and most famous American painters, Jackson Pollock was a performer of sorts, an artist who dripped and smeared his paint onto the laying canvas through a series of movements and gestures, thus giving life to Action Painting. His artworks ooze with drama, tension and energy, rejecting all the traditional techniques religiously used for centuries prior and inspired by the Mexican muralism and Surrealist automatism. A protégé of one wealthy collector and patron, Peggy Guggenheim, Jackson Pollock, or ‘Jack the Dripper’ as Time magazine called him in 1956, had a rather artistic career that was interrupted by his untimely death in a car accident at the age of 44, although his legacy and impact can only be described as everlasting.


Salvador Dali - The surrealist

As eccentric and as imaginative as they come, Salvador Dali surely is one of the most famous painters whose artworks never seize to amaze and intrigue. Coming from a background of explorations in the fields of pittura metafisica and Futurism, his eyes finally set on Surrealism, to which he has contributed some of the greatest pieces that are nothing short of a meticulous visual representation of dreams and an extraordinary creative state of mind. Moreover, Salvador Dali is considered the principal innovator of “paranoia-criticism”, a philosophy of art making that is ”irrational understanding based on the interpretive-critical association of delirious phenomena.” Looking at his psychedelic, almost hallucinatory compositions, such approach becomes quite evident.


Andy Warhol - The Pop Master

His Campbell soup cans and Brillo boxes are everywhere, as are his Marilyns, Lizas, dollar signs and self-portraits. He was a painter, printmaker, illustrator, filmmaker and sculptor, the controversial lover of the popular, a mad fan of fame, glamour, celebrities. Andy Warhol is an integral part of our lives really, someone who turned that very life into art and vice versa, an acknowledged leader of the Pop art movement who was a star as much as he was an artist. His paintings are the finest examples of consumerist art, mechanical and serial production of things and faces all too familiar, yet somehow fresh and new every time. A master of screen printing, Andy Warhol was also known for his Factory studio, something of a hub for anyone hip and radical enough to get his attention.