Archive for the ‘Famous Artists’ Category

Vincent Van Gogh – Most Important Post-Impressionist

Monday, November 2nd, 2009


Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) is one of the most relevant and probably the most famous artist of Post Impressionism Era. He was an artist of great influence in areas such as expressionism, fauvism and abstract art. He was raised in a cultured Holland home that was very religious as his father was a Pastor.

Van Gogh discovered Impressionism and Neo-Impressionism in Paris where he met Paul Gauguin and other Impressionists. In his paintings he reflected his internal state of mind, as his famous Starry Night painting shows.  This painting was also the prelude of Expressionism, another formidable art form. With his close association with Gauguin, Van Gogh was able to persuade him to join him in Arles, France. Both founded an art school but were unsuccessful in the ventures.

Van Gogh suffered from mental fits of madness. During one of his mental bouts, he cut a part of his left ear with a razor while pursuing Gauguin. Ironically, this was the time where he was able to produce most of his famous art pieces with his recognizable style, using bright colors. He produced 900 paintings and 1,100 drawings; these were in the last ten years of his life. He stayed in a mental asylum at Saint-Remy where he later committed suicide.

During his lifetime, he only sold one painting.

Caravaggio – Most influential painter from Baroque

Monday, October 19th, 2009


I  believe that one of the most influential, if not the most influential painter of the Baroque period was Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, although his artistic career  did not last more than ten years. This was a man with a great gift, but he was consumed by anger and as the saying goes, “Anger is just one letter short of danger.”  He died at a relatively young age because of his penchant for facing danger, and confronting others. Still, it is said that what there is of his work is “The beginning of Modern Painting.”

He was born in Milan to a household administrator, and decorator, and at some point in his early life, he was moved to Caravaggio to avoid the atrocities of the plague.  In 1584 he became an apprentice to Simone Perzano who had been an apprentice to Titlan.  His work is said to have been influenced by Giogione, and even Davinci.

After this period he found himself in Rome and in need of a job. That is when he began to work under Giuseppe Cesari, doing background work, like that of painting flowers and such. During that period there were three paintings of his that stood out and it was these paintings which brought him more work: A Boy with a Basket of Fruit, Young Sick Bachus, and Small Boy Peeling Fruit. These were the paintings which demonstrated his keen ability to portray realism and emotion.

He soon left Cesari but made some very influential friends with the painter Prospero Orsi, the architect Onorio Longhi and the artist Mario Minniti. These three people began to introduce him to influential collectors of the time.  The commissions began to come in, and his emotional realism stood out when he portrayed religious themes such at the Penitent Magdalene, a Sacrifice of Isaac,  A Saint Francis of Assisi and others.

Had he continued in the art world, his style and realism would have continued to enchant collectors. Unfortunately Caravaggio did not handle fame well, he was known to work for a couple of weeks, and then spend months going from ball to ball instigating fights.

At one point he had to flee Rome with a price on his head. In the end it was this love of danger which killed him. He died in a sword fight. Because his art career was so short lived, he was forgotten in the centuries following his death, only to be remembered again in the 20th century, as the very father of the Baroque movement.

Andy Warhol

Monday, October 5th, 2009

One of the most influential artists of the pop art movement during the 1960s, Andy Warhol is a name which is known to many, although perhaps they don’t exactly know why.  Arguably most famous for his quote that, “In the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes,” Andy Warhol made a number of statements, both literal and through his art, which provide some very clear definitions on the role of pop culture in our society, both from the 1960s and today.  His work is generally the most identifiable when it represents an iconic American product or image. He made pieces during his career of both famous American celebrities and classic American products, both types of which have grown into beloved representations of Warhol’s art.

Andy Warhol was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1928, to working-class immigrants.  He was sickly as a child, forcing him to spend a great deal of time in bed.  He would pass the time by drawing, collecting photos of famous movie stars, and listening to the radio.  In interviews, Warhol has claimed that this time frame was one of the single most influential periods of his development.  Warhol studied commercial art at the Carnegie Institute of Technology before moving to New York City in 1949 to work as a magazine illustrator.  Once in New York, his drawings began to attract attention and he began to produce more and more work that he enjoyed.

The 1960s presented Andy Warhol with the height of his artistic expression.  He produced a number of pieces which grew notorious in the public eye before continuing on to form “The Factory,” a studio where a number of artists of all forms, musicians, writers, and celebrities could mingle and express themselves.  During the 60s, Warhol began to produce works of art on silkscreen, making his pieces mass-produced and able to be marketed to the general public.  He helped bring about the advent of a love of pop culture, showing America the beauty in the mundane.

The Influence of Jackson Pollock

Monday, July 27th, 2009

One of the major players in the Abstract Expressionism movement in the United States, Jackson Pollock produced some of the most recognizable pieces related to this style.  He specialized in the use of liquid paints instead of the more traditional artist’s paints used on a canvas.  Pollock felt a strong draw to the form of paint pouring, creating his work by stretching a canvas out on the floor and dripping or pouring paint onto the canvas from above.  He would use hardened brushes and sticks to make touches on his canvas and due to his unconventional way of creating his art, Pollock’s paintings were considered by many to bring a new layer to the world of art for, as an artist, he could view his painting from multiple directions and be able to create in ways that a traditional, upright canvas would not allow.

One thing that Pollock did toward advancing the Abstract Expressionistic movement was when he started to refuse to name his pieces, giving a number as a name instead.  This, he felt, would stop the viewer from trying to find dramatic symbolism in the title and would instead make them focus on the painting itself and what it did for them.  This approach, to his art and his life, vaults him into the pantheon of great American artists.

The Genius of Edvard Munch

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Perhaps one of the most striking Expressionist painters in all of history, Edvard Munch was a Norwegian Symbolist painter who lived from 1863 to 1944.  He began painting in 1880 after leaving engineering school and in 1881, he enrolled in the Royal School of Art and Design of Kristiania.  While he studied under the influence of Post-Impressionists, Munch felt that the style wasn’t very representative of his reasons for painting.  Instead, he focused more on creating situations within his paintings which were filled with emotional content and expressive imagery.

His most famous painting, The Scream, was painted in 1893.  It is a good representation of his classic style of work, which focuses more on a shallow backdrop which is a minimal space for his frontal figures to grab attention.  Munch wanted to produce convincing images depicting states of mind and psychological conditions.  The characters in his works of art often embody a certain psychological condition, appearing more symbolic than realistic.

In the late 1930s, the Nazi occupation of Germany declared much of Munch’s work to be degenerate and they removed it from German museums.  This offended Munch deeply, as he felt that he had close ties to Germany throughout his youth.  He retired to Oslo and spend the rest of his life there, producing art up to his death in 1944.

Frida Kahlo – A Woman’s Icon

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Frida Kahlo - Self Portrait

Frida Kahlo is one of the most recognized painters of the modern world. She is an icon to the feminist movement and to women, even today because of the strength, love, and compassion she showed throughout her life.

She was born in Coyoacan in 1907, in Mexico City. At the age of 6 she was hit with the terribly debilitating disease of polio, and this disease severely affected  one of her legs, but she did not allow this to stop her.  She wanted to study medicine but in 1925 she was in a terrible accident.  While recovering, she began to paint the reflections of her physical and mental pain.  She is considered one of the best surrealist painters of her time and she expresses both depression and happiness.  Her themes reflect her pain, her happiness, her obsession for children, and the native folklore of her country. She once wrote “Whether my paintings are an honest expression of my being. My themes reflect my feelings, my mood swings, the profound actions that life has produced in me.”

She was married to Diego Rivera the famous Mexican muralist in 1929 and the relationship, although non conventional, was extremely passionate. Diego was everything to Frida, her lover, her universe and her man.  She became internationally known while travelling to New York with Diego and a modern day icon to the modern day woman. A woman who was strong and yet sensitive, she expressed who she was and what she felt through her paintings.

The Art of Roy Lichtenstein

Monday, December 8th, 2008

Roy Lichtenstein - Kiss V

Widely regarded to be one of the leading influences in the world of Pop Art, Roy Lichtenstein was a famous artist who helped to usher in the Pop Art period of the Modern Art movement.  His works were often incredibly stylistic, based on different panels, which he took from comic books and adapted into his paintings.  Lichtenstein felt that his work was not representative of American art, however, but was of a more industrial nature.  One of his aims was to find art where it already existed in the world and if the piece was particularly striking to him, to reproduce it through his own eyes, giving it his own interpretation and vision.  There are many critics out there who feel that Lichtenstein merely copied works of other artists, but this is simply not true.  By representing the image through his own eyes, with his own interpretation, Roy Lichtenstein makes a commentary on what exactly it is in art that speaks to us.

Born in New York City in 1923, Lichtenstein was exposed to art during his school years, at an early phase.  He took a quick interest and studied art all through his early school years.  He went to Ohio State University for its studio courses in fine arts, pausing partway through his studies to serve in the Army during World War II and after.  Later, upon graduation, he was granted an MFA and began teaching off and on, while working as a painter experimenting in Cubism, Expressionism, and Abstract Expressionism.

In 1960, he began to teach at Rutgers University and a fellow professor ignited his interest in Pop Art.  Lichtenstein began to make his paintings, using images that he derived from cartoons and commercial advertising.  His artworks as well as his technique are very expressive, as Lichtenstein often used Benday Dots to express color.  His paintings have since become highly recognizable, as they make bold statements about Pop Culture, often presenting their ideas through the image of pulp comic art.

Paul Cézanne

Monday, October 6th, 2008

Paul Cézanne was considered the father of modern art. His work laid the foundations for the transition of art from the nineteenth to the twentieth century. During his life, Cezanne was a painter who was ignored by the public art world. He had few friends and, until 1895, presented his paintings only occasionally. He was appreciated only by a few impressionists and at the end of his life; he was also recognized by the new generations.

He was born in France part of a great influential family. He received a large inheritance, which kept him from having financial troubles while he pursued his chosen career in painting.

He left for Paris from Aix where he met other Impressionists. At the beginning of his career, he was interested on landscape paintings, which were painted large and heavy in very imaginative ways. However, his interest in working from direct observation evolved into a painting style with great impact on the influence to the Impressionists of his time because of the simplification of geometry and optical phenomenal effect of his arts to the viewers. His work bridged the Impressionism arts of the 19th century and the 20th century’s.

His works showed a great sense of mastery. The brushstrokes were highly recognizable; use of small strokes of the brush and color planes were created forming complex fields on the eye and the observed art in his paintings. Cézanne exerted study on geometry in his artworks.

Cézanne expressed an interest in the representation of contemporary life, painting the world as close as

possible to what he actually viewed in it, without worrying about idealizations, thematic or an involvement in style. He fought to develop an observation of the real world seen through the most accurate method of representing himself in his paintings.

Still Life paintings, watercolors and numerous self-portraits were among his many other works. Paul Cézanne died of pneumonia and his remains were buried in Aix-en-Provence in France. He lived from 1839 to 1906.

Rembrandt – Great Baroque Artist

Friday, July 11th, 2008

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijin, is one of the greatest painters in art history and probably the most important painter in Dutch history. He was an artist that stylized to perfection the Baroque art movement.  He became especially well know for his portrait work.

In his religious and portrait work he uses every aspect to portray his classic style and Baroque realism, which was the popular movement of the time. But his religious work is noted for the humanity and empathy he showed all human beings. This emotional empathy showed through in all of his biblical themed work. During his lifetime as a painter, he not only produced some of the most important pieces we have of the period, but he also taught every important Dutch painter during his twenty year height as a painter.

He was born in 1606, the ninth child to a miller and a baker’s daughter.  As a youth he became apprenticed to a Leiden history painter and later with Pieter Lastman in Amsterdam. After he left his apprenticeship, he opened his own studio in 1624 and in 1627 he began to accept students.

Big commissions did not begin to come in for him until 1629, when he was discovered by a statesman named Constantijn Huygens, who began to bring him important commissions in portraiture.  In 1631 he moved to Amsterdam, and quickly became well known. Among one of his most moving works was the painting he did of his wife, on her death bed in 1642.

Art Appreciation and the Meme Factor

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

When people have a weak sense of what they like or dislike in as far as art, and these people tend to go with fads, styles, popularity or color schemes, this is known as the meme factor. The meme effect can take away an individuals’ true taste and can be so powerful that even true art connoisseurs decide that any art piece and loves anything and everything.  This is the inability to decide between a piece of work that is appealing and one that is not. This is where the fads, fashions, and symbols begin and true art appreciation ends.

This creates the subjectivity of art, where the greatness and liking of art have nothing to do with whether the piece is actually good, but with popularity, consensus, and the market, all facets that are moldable in our society.

The truth is that famous artists, musicians, novelists, painters who have created a large quantity of art work , will in all likelihood create a great deal of work that is not up to par, after all it is illogical to think that all of their work will be masterpieces.

The meme factor explains why artists such as Van Gogh, were not appreciated at all at certain times. Today they are considered among the best artists of humankind.  It is interesting to see that during his lifetime, Van Gogh sold only one painting, while today, his painting Portrait of Dr. Gachet (1905) has sold by as much as 82,5 million dollars.


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