Category Archives for Artists

Joan Miro Biography

Joan Miro was a Spanish artist who combined Surrealist fantasy with abstract art.

His unique and mature style evolved from the tension between his imagination, vision of modern life’s harshness, and poetic impulse.

He also worked mainly on Lithography and created several tapestries, Murals, and sculptures for public spaces. His highly personalized visual language originated from natural sources as well as prehistoric.

Often considered one of the leading abstract artists he is also thought of as a minor lesser known member of the surrealist artists.

This biography tries to outline his life from childhood to his career development, work, and the factors that inspired his imaginative work across various mediums.

Joan Miro Biography

Joan Miro was born in Montroig Barcelona, Spain, on April 20, 1893, as the firstborn son of Micheal Miro Adziras and Dolores Ferra.

He was from a long line of hardworking artisans, and his father worked as a watchmaker and goldsmith. Although Miro wasn’t good at schoolwork, he regularly drew from the age of eight.

Coming from a Catalan heritage, Miro got encouragement from his parents to hold cultural interests. In 1907, he attended the Lonja School of Fine Arts in Barcelona and received more motivation from his teachers.

After attending a commercial college, he later worked as a clerk in an office until he underwent a physical and mental breakdown.

His parents bought an estate in Montroig near Tarragona in 1912 and took him there for convalescence. They also allowed him to attend art school in Barcelona, where his teacher Fransisco Glin advised him to stick to subjects that he liked to draw.

This changed and strengthened Miro’s feelings for the spatial quality of objects. As he recovered, Miro concentrated entirely on art and eventually abandoned his commercial pursuits.

In the art academy in Barcelona, Miro learned both contemporary Catalan poets and art movements. Poetry had a lifelong influence in him, where he saw his work as an implicit metaphor that revoked resemblance to the objective reality, while still managing to stay out of it.

During his training, his teacher had him draw while blindfolded so that he could rely on touch and intuition to encourage spatial understanding of various objects .

Between 1912 and 1920, Miro spent most of his time painting portraits, landscapes, and nudes in a Catalan Fauvism style.

Early work

The early 1920s were quite critical in Miro’s life as he moved to Paris. This decision was prompted by the fact that his first solo show in 1918 didn’t go well.

Both the public and critics ridiculed his work, and not a single piece was bought. The disappointment sent Miro to pack and go out to find a more receptive and invigorating artistic world.

He traveled to Paris in 1920 and met several other artists like Pablo Picasso, Max Jacob, Tristan Tzara, and Andre Masson.

It was until his three and a half months stay in Paris that he decided to go back to his Catalan community, where he got his breakthrough, something he referred to as ‘bursting into painting like the way a child burst into tears.’

Mature work and international recognition

In the following years, Miro maintained a good balance between his Parisian art and Catalan inspiration.

From 1919, he lived alternately in Paris and Spain. Despite being nominated as a French national, Miro remained attached to his Catalan homeland.

In the 1920s, Miro focused on meticulously detailed realism with abstraction in landscapes such as the Tilled Field and the farm.

He would gradually remove objects he portrayed from their unique context and reassemble them in accordance with specific mysterious grammar, creating an eerie impression.

He enjoyed sharing his thoughts with like-minded artists. From 1925 to 1928, he worked closely under Surrealist, Dadaist, and Paul Klee.

He painted imaginary landscapes and dream pictures where the linear configurations and patches of color looked as though they were set down randomly. He used human and animal figures as indeterminate forms.

After a short time living in Paris, Joan Miro made it a routine to stay in the city during Winter, Autumn, and Spring and then return to his family home in Montroig each summer.

This offered him a good balance of influences while also allowing him to rest from the busy and hectic city life for several months every year while still maintaining a strong connection with the capital that saw his career develop and move at the right pace and direction.

In his early years settling in Paris, Miro faced a number of financial challenges that he used to find inspiration from. He wasn’t bothered by these challenges and only used them to appreciate his opportunity to pursue his dreams in a world where his modern art styles were more receptive.

In 1928, Miro traveled to the Netherlands, where he learned the 17th-century Dutch realist painters. By the 1930s, Miro had already executed a series of old master paintings and had become more experimental, using techniques of collage and sculptural assemblies.

Miro returned to Spain during world war II, where he executed a series of small works with symbols of cosmos and elements, expressing a happy collaboration of everything that is creative.

After the end of world war II, in 1948, Miro again split his time to live in Paris and Spain, and in that year, he began a series of very poetic work based on a combination of themes of a bird, woman, and star.

Between 1949 and 1950, Miro created abstract paintings that became wildly spontaneous while still portraying others with punctilious craftsmanship.

The years following World war II, Miro became internationally known for his drawings, sculptures, and paintings exhibited in many countries. He would get commissioned to paint a wide range of murals across Paris, Spain and the world.

Late period and death

As he aged, Miro continued to receive public commissions and accolades. He went to different directions to find something to add to his skills and knowledge.

He received an honorary degree from the University of Barcelona in 1979 as he continued to demonstrate his achievements and his place in popular culture.

Even at his age, Miro continued to embrace the modern culture and was much interested in the lives of younger generations, to help him find out what the future held.

Like all other great artists, he would continue working until his death in 1983, a year after completing Woman and Bird, public sculpture for Barcelona City.

Salvador Dali Biography

Salvador Dali is one of the most celebrated artists of his time. Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dali y Domenech, as he is known as in full, was born on 11th May 1904 in Spain.

Probably the most famous of the surrealist artists he famous for his explorations of conscious imagery, which has made him a Surrealist icon.

He is best known for his 1931 painting of melting clocks on a landscape setting, The persistence of Memory.

Salvador Dali was encouraged to practice his art from an early age, which led him to join an academy in Madrid. He later went to Paris in 1920, where he began interacting with artists such as Rene Magritte and Pablo Picasso, who inspired Dali’s first Surrealist phase.

Salvador Dali Biography

Salvador Dali was born to a middle-class lawyer and notary father who had a strict disciplinary approach to raising him, often contradicting his mother, who was from an artistic family.

She indulged the young Spanish artist in his art and early eccentricities and encouraged his creativity.

The early life of Dali shaped his art in that, even though he was a very intelligent and precocious child, he often faced anger against his father and his more dominant schoolmates.

His father never tolerated any outbursts, and he punished young Dali seriously, which greatly affected their relationship.

His sister, Anna Maria, was born some years later in 1908 when young Dali’s father enrolled him at the State Primary School.

Salvador Dali couldn’t keep up with public schooling, so his father decided to enroll him at the Hispano French School of Immaculate Conception, Figueres after the first failed attempt.

At his new school, Salvador learned French, which later became very instrumental in his art career and cultural journey.

Salvador discovered Impressionism art while living with the Pichot family of intellectuals and artists at the Moli de la Torre estate on the outskirts of Figueres.

Salvador Dali was just 14 when his works were first exhibited in Figueres as part of a show.

Three years after his first exhibition, Salvador Dali was admitted to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando, where he was expelled without a diploma.

Dali criticized his teachers and allegedly started a riot over the school’s professorship choice and declared that no faculty member was competent enough to examine him.

He feared he was too intelligent for the professors there as he had been learning more from the French art magazines than from his “out of touch” professors.

He was arrested for allegedly supporting the Separatist movement in the same year and imprisoned briefly in Gerona even though he was apolitical at the time.

Salvador Dali Types of Work

Salvador Dali spent most of his life promoting his art and leaving the world in awe.

He loved creating a sensation and a controversy at the same time, as shown by his drawing, SacredHeart featuring the words, ‘Sometimes I Spit With Pleasure on the Portrait of My Mother.’ Salvador was influenced a lot by publicity and the fortune that came with it.

According to various art critics, Dali peaked artistically in his 20s and 30s; then, he gave himself over to greed and exhibitionism.

Salvador was fiercely technical, and he painted highly unusual paintings, visionary explorations, and sculptures in life-size interactive art and film.

He is responsible for some of the most iconic Spanish paintings and imagery.

His work ushered in a new generation of Imaginative expression after he showed the world how rich it could be when you dared to embrace boundless and pure creativity, which he did using both his personal life and his professional endeavors.

The life and legend of Salvador Dali is what transformed him into the Spanish surrealist sensation he is.

The discovery of Sigmund Freud’s writings and his affiliation with the Paris Surrealists led to the start and development of his mature artistic style where he started inducing hallucinatory states in himself through “paranoiac-critical.”

As a Surrealist artist, Dali depicted a dream world in which objects in commonplace were deformed, metamorphized bizarrely and irrationally or juxtaposed, as illustrated by one of his most enigmatic work, “The Persistence of Memory.”

He also expanded his artistic exploration into filmmaking and worked with Luis Bunuel, a Spanish director to make two Surrealistic films, An Andalusian Dog, ( Un Chien Andalou, 1929) and The Golden Age, ( L Age d’or, 1930), both of which are filled with grotesque but very suggestive images.

His art appeared years later in another film, Spellbound, by Alfred Hitchcock, in a dream sequence in the film.

Salvador’s art took a turn in the late 1930s to a more academic style after being influenced by Renaissance paintings.

Dali had some ambivalent political views, which led to him being alienated by his Surrealist colleagues during the rise of fascism.

He then moved to the United States where he spent most of his time designing jewelry, theater sets, fashion shops interiors. He had become a notorious figure of the Surrealist movement by 1930 and mid-1930s for his artwork and personality.

Subject Matter of His Artwork; Dali Theatre Museum

In the two decades leading to 1970, Dali’s work had a religious theme, even though he continued to use erotic subjects to represent his childhood.

Dali’s most revealing and interesting book is The Secret Life of Salvador Dali (1942).

Over the next 15 years, Salvador entered a “Nuclear Mysticism Period” when he painted a series of 19 large canvases that were inclusive of historical, scientific, and religious themes.

His work illustrated images depicting the DNA, religious themes of chastity, divine geometry, and the Hyper Cube.

He spent his time between 1970 and 1974 creating the TeatroMuseo Dali, Dali Theatre Museum but later dissolved his relationship with other business managers when all rights to his work were sold without his consent.

Dali was forced to retire from painting in 1980 when he developed a motor disorder and couldn’t hold a paintbrush anymore.

There was a major anthological exhibition of 400 works by Salvador in 1983 in Madrid, Figueres, and Barcelona, where his last pictorial works date from this period.

His wife later died in 1982, which sent him to depression, and he moved to Pubol, where he was burnt severely in a fire in 1984, leaving him confined to a wheelchair.

His friends, fellow artists, and patrons relocated him back to Figueres, at the comfort of the TeatroMuseo where he died of heart failure in 1989. Salvador Dali’s death was honored with a major retrospective exhibition at the Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart — Salvador Dali, 1904 to 1989.

Leonardo da Vinci Biography

Leonardo da Vinci is one of the greatest artists of the Renaissance era. No question that da Vinci had a very curious, imaginative mind, which often came out in his paintings. 

Still to this day, his popularly is as high as ever from those within the art community. da Vinci still inspires a generation of future artists.

Leonardo da Vinci Biography

Da Vinci was born out of wedlock on April 15, 1452 in Tuscany, Italy. He was raised on his family’s estate by his father, uncle and grandparents.

Da Vinci’s first known artwork was a simple drawing of the landscape near his home in 1473. Little known fact about da Vinci is that he was ambidextrous.

Contemporaries remarked that they witnessed him writing with one hand while painting with the other. This unique approach allowed him to make personal notes during the creativity process.

At first, da Vinci took a liking towards music as he was training to become a lyre (a U-shaped harp) player. However, his interest changed after meeting Florentine painter Andrea del Verrocchio.

He encouraged da Vinci to learn and appreciate the outdoors as it became a prominent subject matter in most of his finished works. Under Verrocchio’s tutelage, da Vinci learned a wide range of artistic paint brushing techniques.

Also, he was introduced to drafting and plastering that partnered very well with his own style of painting and drawing. This allowed da Vinci to employ a linear perspective into all of his artwork. 

It brought an avenue to share his love of the sciences with his audience through the arts. 

Considered as the most famous artist of all time along with Raphael Sanzio, Donatello and Michelangelo he is held in high esteem as one of the greatest Renaissance artists, architects and engineers

Science and Invention Were Apart of da Vinci’s Legacy

By today’s standards, da Vinci would have been considered a groundbreaking military engineer. He was renowned for his expertise in the area of engineering, chemistry, geology, geometry, physics and zoology.

But this information was unknown to the public until over 150 years following his death. da Vinci’s personal journal showed many of his scientific drawings, personal observations and revolutionary military inventions. Those included a flying machine, a war machine, tanks and other military weapons.

Some of his more popular military inventions was a war machine made out of a chariot with blades mounted on each side. Another was an armored tankard that held a crossbow manned by two soldiers as the vehicle is moved by the remainder of the battalion. 

Finally, da Vinci’s flying machine resembled part-bicycle and part-helicopter. He did proposed to the city of Venice to build a movable dike to protect the border from invasion.

It was determined that a project of this nature would bankrupt the city. Still as an inventor, da Vinci was well ahead of his time.

Rarely, did da Vinci ever divide his sketches into separate categories of arts and science. He felt both areas intertwined with one another as da Vinci firmly believed the study of science made him a better overall artist. 

The Meaning of da Vinci’s Famous Paintings

After his apprenticeship with Verrocchio, da Vinci qualified to become a master artist and he opened his own art studio.

Still, he would collaborate with his mentor on one more painting, the “Baptism of Christ.” da Vinci worked solely on painting the background and the young angel holding the robe of Jesus Christ. 

da Vinci is famous for three paintings: the “Mona Lisa”, the “Last Supper” and the “Vitruvian Man.” 

The “Mona Lisa” is arguably one of the most famous paintings in the world. One of the great allures of this artwork is the identity of the subject, which no one has confirmed.

In fact it is the Mona Lisa that has elevated him to the title of most famous artist ever

Some observers believe the image was da Vinci’s mother, others thought it was Princess Isabella of Naples or da Vinci’s apprentice Salai dressed in drag. 

The local tall-tale is a respected local merchant from Florence commissioned da Vinci to paint his wife’s portrait. The merchant wanted a painting of his wife to celebrate the pending birth of their child.

This story is supported by the fact that the model did indeed look like her facial features was bloated, which is a common trait for pregnant women. 

The only questionable part of the story is the merchant never received the commissioned artwork. Many of his contemporaries thought da Vinci was never comfortable with the finished painting. For him, the “Mona Lisa” was a continuous work in progress. He expected perfection from himself.

The other argument that is open for debate is if the “Mona Lisa” is smiling in the portrait. Many art historians believe the female model did indeed smile, but it was da Vinci’s creativity that gave us the impression of a half-smile. Their reasoning is that painters often had entertainers perform for their models while painting their image.

Today, the “Mona Lisa” hangs in the world famous Louvre Museum in Paris, France. Nearly a million visitors come to see this priceless artwork. 

The “Last Supper” was commissioned by the Duke of Milan to be placed on the back wall of the dining hall inside of the Santa Maria delle Graza monastery.

It took da Vinci three years to complete the artwork. The image shows the moment when Christ confronts his Twelve Apostles that one of them will betray him soon.

What is so amazing about the painting is the authentic facial expressions and body language shown of those sitting around the table for that infamous Passover supper.

At the time it was one greatest Renaissance paintings and was considerably more well known than the Mona Lisa.

Art historians were perplexed by da Vinci’s decision to paint with a tempura and oil base against a dried-out plaster canvas. Other artists from this era were using a paint by product made primarily from fresco onto a fresh plaster canvas.

da Vinci’s decision led to deterioration and flaking of the paint off certain areas on the canvas. Thankfully, the “Last Supper” has been stabilized to prevent further damage to the artwork. 

The “Vitruvian Man” combined arts and science in the image of the human body. This was depicted by a nude male with his arms fully extended on a horizontal plane.

The body is trapped inside a square box and circle. Most art historians believe the painting represents the right proportion and symmetry created all throughout the world. 

da Vinci died of a stroke at the age of 67 on May 2, 1519. In the end, he painted 15 pieces of art. 

Donatello Biography

Donatello is considered to be one of the greatest artists from the Renaissance period.

As a sculptor, he is credited with creating the predominant styles of the Renaissance.

Along with Michaelangelo Buonarroti, da Vinci and Raphael he is considered one of leading italian renaissance artists.

Donatello Biography

He was born Donato di Betto Bardi in 1386 in Florence, Republic of Florence.

Donatello studied under Lorenzo Ghiberti. From this teacher he developed his technical skill. What he did not get during his studies was evidence of style. As he worked and studied over time, he developed his own sense of artistic style and ability to create a feeling of movement in his work.

Donatello was greatly impacted by the actions of his father. His father became involved in the Ciompi revolt in 1378. This was a rebellion formed by the wool carders. He participated in other uprisings against Florence. Eventually, he was sentenced to death. Later he was pardoned.

This did not resonate with Donatello. He has the completely opposite sensibility of his father. Rather, he was elegant and noble.

He received his nickname due to his delicate nature. In the Martelli family home, he received his education. Also, he was trained in goldsmithing.

Finally, he traveled to Rome to embark on a two year study of the arts in antiquity. Many of the ancient ruins in the city inspired many of his future works.

He traveled to Rome with Brunelleschi. During his time there, Donatello became particularly interested in the measurement on the Pantheon’s dome and those of many other Roman structures.

While in Rome, Brunelleschi built structures and Donatello created monuments. Many painters and architects at the time were influenced by their work.

In 1404, Donatello came back to Florence. There he worked in Lorenzo Ghiberti’s workshop. In 1407, he developed a technique using wax for casting and use it to create cast models for the north door at Baptistery of San Juan.

By spending the time to develop his knowledge of goldsmithing and jewelry, he became quite accomplished. Eventually, he had honed his techniques to such as level that he was considered a groundbreaking Italian artist. By this point, his sense of artistic style was fully developed.

In his marble sculptures, one can see a deep sense of realism and seriousness. Much of his work is in direct contrast with the international Gothic style that favored decoration and graceful styling. In 1411, Donatello began the San Marcos series with the Zaccone.

He continued working on the series until 1436. The piece that he is most famous for, The St. George, is part of this series. Around this time, Donatello met the man who would become his apprentice, Michelozzo.

In 1427, Donatello began work on the tomb for Cardinal Brancacci. The sculptural theme of the tomb was the Assumption of the Virgin. Following that project, he began studying bronze casting. This was a difficult art form to fully utilize.

When Donatello returned to Florence, he created the “Song” for the cathedral. He drew on many classic motifs he had admired in Rome. Many of these motifs were recreated for the work in Florence.

In 1443, he was commissioned to sculpt “The Gattamelata”, a large equestrian statue. This was an important piece because of its life size quality. He drew on the Roman Marcus Aurelius’ style to create a sense of dramatic force that hadn’t been seen since works from antiquity.

Donatello followed that sculpture with a project to build the main altar piece for the shrine of San Antonio. For this project, he created seven statues and four reliefs.

During the sixteenth century, the arrangement of these works was changed. However, the completed work displays his sense of dramatic movement and sense of space.

By 1454, Donatello was worked to create pieces that were increasingly charged with emotion and expressiveness. During this period, he also began to experiment with deformation and the emotion it evokes from viewer.

Works during this period include “Judith and Holofernes”, as well as, “Mary Magdalene” in wood. It’s important to understand that up to the beginning of the sixteenth century, Donatello directly and purposefully influenced the sculpture works in Florence.

During the later years, he suffered a serious, prolonged illness. This prevented him from working many times. Without the ability to earn an income, his standard of living was also affected.

Donatello died in Florence on December 13, 1466. He is buried in the Basilica de San Lorenzo. He is located in the crypt under the altar. He was interred next to the tomb of Cosme the Elder.

The sculptor Raffaello Romanelli created the Donatello cenotaph in 1896. Due to his illness, Donatello died in extreme poverty. At his death, he only had 34 guilders left. This was to pay the rent on his home.

For those that knew Donatello, this was not a surprise. He was known to have financial problems throughout his lifetime. Many said that he was completely detached from money.

He was always giving it away to other people. He was also known for making funds available to assistants who worked in the workshop.

Throughout his lifetime, the quality of Donatello’s work was widely recognized. He earned good fees for the works he created. Also, Cosme de Medici gave him pay every week. These funds were sent to him throughout his life.

Donatello created many sculptural pieces that are still studied and appreciated to this day.

Growing out of the Renaissance movement, he went on to develop a sense of style that is uniquely his own. It is that unique vision of style that created the masterpieces that are enjoyed today.

He drove himself to develop techniques to convey emotion and forcefulness in this work. His other focus was the creation of movement in sculptural forms. This dynamism continues to live in his works. It is also something that art historians and artists continue to study to this day.

Donatello’s Most Important Works:

  • St. Louis of Tolosa
  • St. George
  • St. Mark
  • The Thoughtful Prophet
  • Sacrifice of Isaac
  • Reliquary of St. Rossore
  • Works in Siena
  • Orsanmichle ele

Michelangelo Biography

Michelangelo Buonarroti is one of the prominent classical artists from the Italian High Renaissance.

Also known as il Divino, he is well known for his works as a sculptor, painter and architect.

He spent much of his career in the service of the Medici family.

Michelangelo Biography

His full name was Michelangelo de Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni. He was born on March 6, 1475 in Caprese, Republic of Florence. He lived a long life and died at 89 on February 18, 1564 in Rome, Papal States.

As a Florentino, he was an essential artist during the Renaissance. His sculptures, paintings and architecture contributions are still revered today.

Michelangelo was born into a wealthy family in the Florentine region. The family moved to Tuscany soon after his birth. His mother died when he was only six years old.

Around this time, he met a painter who was 12 years old named Francesco Granice. They developed a friendship and Francesco encouraged Michelangelo to explore art.

Michelangelo had a difficult and contentious relationship with his father, Ludovico. His father strongly wanted him to take up an administrative position that could develop into a career.

He didn’t see the benefit of pursuing a career as an artist. His father’s inability to see Michelangelo’s true talents created resentments between them.

After years of arguments and tension, his father finally gave up. Following his father’s concession, Michelangelo went to work as a draftsman in the studio of Ghirlandaio. There he was allowed to develop his drafting skills.

It was in this studio that he was introduced to the techniques involved with fresco painting. During his time in Ghirlandaio’s studio, he fully learned this technique.

As Michelangelo developed his skills, he caught the attention of Lorenzo the Magnificent, the head of the Medici family.

Michelangelo was welcomed into the Medici home and lived there as an adopted son. This large measure of support allowed him to begin studying sculpture.

He studied under Bertoldo di Giovanni. His years in the Medici palace and the relationship with Lorenzo de Medici allowed him to get to know many of the prominent humanists of the time who also resided at the palace.

Michelangelo and Human Anatomy

As part of furthering his education while at the Medici palace, Michelangelo begin studying human anatomy. As part of his studies, he began dissecting human corpses at the municipal depot.

While this may seem particularly gruesome, the process allowed him to develop intimate knowledge about human anatomy. These skills translated into his work helping him to use appropriate proportions.

These skills can be seen in the expressiveness of the subjects in his sculptures and paintings. He was able to realistically suggest movement of the human body in his work as a result of these studies.

He took significant risks by studying anatomy this way. Any tampering with corpses was illegal. It was also a societal taboo.

When Michelangelo was 17 years old, he moved to Bologna. This was following the death of Lorenzo de Medici. After spending four years there, he moved to Rome. It was in Rome that the idea of “La Piedad” came to him. This masterpiece is also known as The Pieta.

He completed the sculpture for St. Peter’s Basilica early in 1500. It is considered to be an essential work of sculpture during the Italian Renaissance.

The Pieta demonstrates Michelangelo’s mastery of composition. It also clearly shows his understanding of anatomy. This sculpture garnered him respect as a Renaissance artist.

With his newly found fame and respect, he returns to Florence. In Florence, he began his second sculpture. This second sculpture is “David”. This marble sculpture is also considered a masterpiece of the era.

Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo in 1505 to design and sculpt his tomb. The tomb was expected to have 80 large figures.

The project was eventually scaled back. However, Michelangelo created “Moses” for the tomb. This masterwork still resonates with visitors today.

The Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo

There were several differences of opinion between Michelangelo and his patron, the Pope. So much so that he left Rome. He was not gone for long and returned when he received another project from the Pope.

The Pope commissioned him to do a fresco painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. This ambitious painting project was called “Genesis”. It is considered a masterwork of Renaissance painting to this day.

The difficulty and arduousness of this fresco painting work Michelangelo’s spirit down. The work took over four years to do (1508-1512). Also, the work conditions were poor and generally harsh.

To complicate the matter, he often was not adequately compensated for the work. This made it very difficult for him to work and some have said that it affected his character.

When Pope Julius II dies in 1513, the tomb project was further scaled back. During this time, he was traveling constantly back and forth to Carrara. When he finally returned to Florence, he was finishing commissions from Pope Leon X. He also worked as one of the Republic’s military engineers.

Under Pope Paolo III, he returned to Rome in 1534. This time, he was commissioned to paint the altar in the Sistine Chapel. This work is “The Last Judgement”.

The pope bestows on him the appointment of painter, architect and sculptor at the Vatican. The resulting painting show Michelangelo’s mastery of anatomy. The painting depicted the human body nude to show its beauty. Even Christ is shown nudge.

While Michelangelo considered the human body to be beautiful and expressive, it was too much for most. It was insisted that the nudes be covered.

Following the death of Sangallo in 1546, Michelangelo continued his work on St. Peter’s Basilica. He is responsible for unifying much of the exterior works.

When he died at 89 years old in Rome, Michelangelo was recognized as a master of the arts in its many forms. This reputation continues today as one of the most famous Italian artists ever along with the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello and Raphael.

Best Known Works:

  • Mercy (1496)
  • David (1501-1504)
  • Moses (1513-1515)
  • Creation of Adam (1511)
  • Design of the dome of St. Peter of the Vatican (1546)

Raphael Biography

Raffaello Sanzio, most commonly known as Raphael, was a highly-praised artist during the Italian High Renaissance Classical era.

His most prized pieces tend to include those found in the Palace of the Vatican of Rome and the Sistine Madonna.

By taking a look at Raphael’s life, it becomes easier to see what influenced his artistic abilities and led to the progression of a career and legacy that would have him become one of the most famous Renaissance artists.

Keep reading to learn about his childhood, how he became to be such a great artist, and death and legacy, and more.

Raphael Biography

Raphael was born in Urbino, Italy, on April 6, 1483. During the time in which he was born, Urbino was a hot spot and booming cultural center for artists. Giovanni Santi, which was Raphael’s father, was an artist as well.

He painted for Federigo da Montefeltro, the Duke of Urbino. Because of his artistic abilities and devotion to painting, it should come as no surprise that Giovanni passed down some of his knowledge to his own son.

Giovanni also made sure to expose Raphael to the principles of humanistic philosophy by taking him to the Duke of Urbino’s court.

Magia de Battista di Nicola Ciarla was Raphael’s mother. She was the daughter of a wealthy merchant family that also came from Urbino as well as Colbordolo in the Marche Region.

Magia had three children but Raphael was the only one who survived past infancy. In 1491, when Raphael was only 9-years-old, his mother passed away.

The following year, his father remarried a daughter of a goldsmith. A year after remarrying, Giovanni then passed away.

Raphael’s Training

Raphael was 11 when his father passed away. Giovanni’s brother took on legal guardianship of Raphael and was in charge of the art studio.

However, even though he was in charge of management, it was Raphael who immediately took on the task of trying to ensure his father’s workshop flourished, and he did an excellent job.

In fact, he quickly surpassed his father’s capabilities, and in a short period of time, he became known as one of the finest painters in the city. During his teenage years, Raphael received a commission to go to the neighboring town of Castello and paint for the Church of San Nicola.

It was also during these early years that Raphael received training from Timoteo Viti but many believe it was Perugino who significantly influenced his artistic abilities.

During his first commission at Castello, Raphael was tasked with creating an altarpiece in dedication to St. Nicholas of Tolentino.

The art piece was actually created as part of a joint commission with a friend and contemporary of Raphael’s father. And although it was created out of a joint commission, Raphael was recorded as the Master. Unfortunately, in 1789, an earthquake left the art piece in fragments.

Raphael’s Art Works and Architectural Contributions

From 1500 to 1504, there were multiple pieces created by Raphael that received high acclaim, including the Coronation of the Virgin in 1502 and The Marriage of the Virgin in 1504.

After he created The Marriage of the Virgin in 1504, Raphael moved to Sienna. He made the move after receiving an invitation from Pinturicchio, a painter who wanted Raphael to prepare drawings for frescos in the Liberia Piccolomini.

After staying in Siena for a bit, like most Italian artists of the time he then moved to Florence where he resided for four years.

Florence was the center of the Italian Renaissance, and it was also the place where Raphael met his two biggest rivals of his time, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. Important to note, however, is that Raphael was quite a bit younger than his rivals.

As a leading sculptor Donatello di Betto Bardi would not be considered any kind of major rival.

During his stay in Florence, Raphael gave up his well-known graceful style depicted in Perugino for a grandiose style; this was mostly because Raphael began taking on artistic influences from da Vinci.

Raphael was particularly fond of da Vinci’s use of gestures to create dialogue as well as his techniques of chiaroscuro and sfumato. After a bit of time, Raphael took his da Vinci-derived inspirations to create his own style. He succeeded and quickly gained recognition for his work’s clarity of form and ease of composition.

His contributions during this time were known to be great contributions to Renaissance motivations for wanting to depict beauty as well as Neoplatonic ideas of showcasing human grandeur in art.

It was also during his stay in Florence that Raphael created multiple Madonnas; these pieces embodied multiple facets of artistic abilities exemplified through da Vinci’s experimentation with realism.

One such example is the La Bella Jardiniere in 1507. Also created in 1507 was The Entombment which highly depicted references of the Battle of Cascina of 1504 created by Michelangelo.

Because of Raphael’s ability to quickly and effectively take on styles of other artists and add his own signature style to them, Raphael found himself accused at one point of plagiarism by Michelangelo.

Raphael spent his time from 1508 through 1511 creating multiple pieces that are found in the Vatican’s Stanza della Segnatura. The series of frescos found in the “Room of Signatura” include The School of Athens and The Triumph of Religion.

Both of which are two of the most famous Renaissance paintings ever produced.

Years later, Raphael created another fresco cycle for the Vatican. Pieces in the series include The Liberation of Saint Peter, The Expulsion of Heliodorus, The Repulse of Attila from Rome, and The Miracle of Bolsena.

Most notably, however, was that during this same period of time, Raphael spent much of his time in his own studio creating a series of Madonna paintings, including the famous Madonna of the Chair and Sistine Madonna.

By 1514, Raphael has begun his work in architecture. The pope hired him as his chief architect and his first project was to create a design to be followed for the construction of a chapel in Sant’ Eligio degli Orefici.

Death

Ironically, Raphael passed away on his own birthday in 1520, meaning he was only 37 when he passed. Mysterious causes were deemed as the reason for his sudden death in Rome.

10 Most Famous Surrealist Artists

Surrealism is more than a genre, but an artistic movement that inspired a world.

The paintings can be defined as themes of imagery, bright color skims and other bold artistic techniques.

The top surrealist artists felt they had an open invitation to explore the subconscious mind of humans.

Thus, the end result depicts a person’s deepest thoughts that is transformed into a strange image on a piece of canvas.

Famous Surrealist Artists

1. Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali is a Spanish surrealist painter who was famous for exploring the human subconscious in all of his art.

Dali was an art student in Madrid during the 1920s when he discovered surrealism.

Dali’s discovery came after reading the writings of Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud, who helped him explore the mind’s subconscious. Plus, it was aided by Dali befriending Pablo Picasso and Rene Magritte shortly thereafter. 

He began to paint images that represented a hallucinate state of mind which Dali called “paramaniac critical.” He traveled to Paris, France to join the surrealist movement and produced some of his best work as an artist

Each finished painting depicted a dream world where common objects were slowly melting away right before our eyes. Often, the landscape was of Dali’s home country of Spain was in the background. 

Some of his most famous works include “The Persistence of Memory,” “An Andalusian Dog” and “The Golden Age.” “The Persistence of Memory” is made famous by Dali’s detailed painting of watches melting away.

In 1934, Dali was expelled from the surrealist movement after refusing to take a hard stand against Spain’s leader Francisco Franco.

Never the less his works continually rank high as some of the all time great Spanish paintings ever produced.

2. René Magritte

Rene Magritte was a Belgian surrealist artist who created witty, thought-provoking artwork all throughout his career.

Often, observers of his paintings questioned their own reality in the world around them. The one constant in all of his art was a cloth covering the image’s face. It represented his mother who was suicidal and died in a self-inflicting drowning incident near their home. 

Magritte was 13-years old at the time and witnessed the local authorities pulling her body from the lake. He noticed that his mother’s face was covered with her dress.

Magritte’s art career began with drawing lessons before moving to Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels. However, he found the schoolwork to be uninspiring and left to pursue an artistic career.

After a stint in the Belgian army, Magritte began painting. His surrealist approach grew popular quickly and inspired two 1960 art icons, Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns, in their own work.

The magic of Magritte’s paintings was the perception of the image within the work. Often, they were placed in extreme, unrealistic conditions by the artist.

3. Jean Arp

Jean Arp, a French artist and painter, was one of the leaders of the surrealist movement in the first half of the 20th Century.

His training began at the turn of the century in his native country. While living in Switzerland, Arp co-founded DeModerne Bund (The Modern Alliance) with a group of artists who pledged to move the surrealist movement forward with their art.

He returned to France in 1914, where Arp became a close friend of Pablo Picasso as they’re shared similar artistic beliefs. 

Shortly after the start of World War I, Arp became a founding member of the Dada movement in France. This helped with his advancement as a painter. 

His first major work as a surrealist artist was “Papiers Dechines” (torn papers), which took to the belief of leaving creation to chance.

Art historians believe Arp’s paintings had more of an edgier look than other surrealist artists.

He continued to experiment with abstract images that depict the human mind and spirit until his death in 1966.

4. Max Ernst 

Max Ernst was a German painter and sculptor who heavily influenced the surrealist movement in a multiple of ways. His father was an amateur painter in his own right and inspired Ernst to take an interest in the arts as well.

He enrolled in the University of Bonn as an art history major, but Ernst was more fascinated by the paintings created by mentally-ill patients he was working with in a student program.

This inspired him to pick up a brush and begin painting himself.

Ernst’s first works were of landscape and human portraits before becoming a full-time artist at the urging of his close friend August Macke.

In 1914, Ernst met Jean Arp and began a life-long friendship with the surrealist artist. Many observers felt Ernst’s finished paintings were heavily influenced by his time spent in the military.

Most of his pieces consisted of cutout photographs that were arranged to suggest the main subject had multiple identities. Surrealism allowed Ernst to add two new techniques, frottage (rubbing a pencil against wood or fabric) and decalcomania (transferring paint from one surface to another) to his repertoire.

This allowed him to free images from his subconscious onto the canvas. In the 1930s, Ernst’s artistic interests went from painting to sculpting, but many of his contemporaries felt he became less experimental in his work.

5. Yves Tanguy

Yves Tanguy was a French-American surrealist artist who had a great influence on the next generation of painters in this genre.

Unlike his contemporaries, Tanguy represented the dreamscape imagery found in most surrealist artwork with the use of naturalism and realism.

Often, it came in themes of surreal landscapes that achieved a sense of believability by his audience. Among some of Tanguy’s works include “Mama” and “Papa is Wounded.”

When asked to described his approach to art, Tanguy felt the images in his paintings came together on the canvas right before his eyes with little thought required.

Usually, the image came to him as he progressed through the process. A finished piece of art gave Tanguy some sense of liberty and freedom because he didn’t follow a tired, old path to capture an image in a painting.

In 1937, Tanguy decided to move his family to Woodbury, Connecticut and his artwork become more colorful.

The images loomed larger in his paintings following the move to the United States.

6. Andre Masson

Andre Masson is a French painter and sculptor who spent the majority of his childhood in Brussels.

Masson served in the French Army from 1914-19 and was severely injured in a battle during World War I.

He returned to Paris following his recovery and met several surrealist artists who encouraged him to become a painter. 

In 1923, Masson had his first solo exhibition as most of the paintings were of forest, still life and card players portraits.

But as he got more involved the surrealist movement, Masson explored his expression of the forces of nature through his paintings. In Masson’s later years as an artist, he painted strictly abstract art.

7. Paul Delvaux

Paul Delvaux was a Belgian artist who merged surrealism with other genres of art through his oil paintings. The majority of his works were heavily influenced by fellow surrealist artists Giorgio de Chirico and Rene Magritte. 

One of the recurring themes in his paintings were nude women caught in various situations such as inside a building, standing on an outdoor patio or waiting at a train station. Delvaux felt this image expressed the subconscious mind in most males. 

As he moved forward in his career, Delvaux became interested in exploring the area of painting that was the visual equivalent to surrealist poetry, which was gaining a large following inside the movement. 

He began to merge the two subject matters together even if they were unrelated to one another.

Ironically, Delvaux never considered himself a surrealist artist despite having so many personal connections within the movement.

8. Méret Elisabeth Oppenheim

Meret Elisabeth Oppenheim was a Swiss painter and sculptor of German descent. Oppenheim studied art at the Basle at the Kunstgewerbeschule from 1929-30.

She produced her first series of surrealist art that was shown to the general public immediately. It showcased ink and pen drawings on paper from her own school notebook.

Oppenheim’s artistic style greatly changed after meeting and becoming friendly with Alberto Giacometti and Jean Arp. Quickly, her art was proclaimed as the next voice of the movement.

Oppenheim’s paintings dealt with the inner-workings of the human mind while dreaming. She painted female images in a way that all men desired.

Oppenheim’s involvement with the surrealist movement was curbed at the conclusion of the second world war. 

9. Leonora Carrington

Leonora Carrington was an English artist and writer who is famous for being the companion of surrealist artist Max Ernst and together, they led the movement in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

Carrington was educated at the Chelsea School of Art. Her first exhibit was in 1936 as most of the finished paintings were heavily influenced by Carrington’s mentor Amedee Ozenfant.

The following year, Carrington met Ernst and they immediately became a romantic couple. The relationship ended shortly after the conclusion of World War II and Carrington sought refuge in Mexico.

She brought surrealism to Latin America as her art showcased more color and beautiful landscapes. Carrington would live in Mexico until her death in 2011.

10. Man Ray

Man Ray (real name is Emmanuel Radnitzky) is an American artist who became famous for producing camera-less photography artwork.

Those images became known as “rayographs.” It was a humorous attempt by Ray to name a new type of surrealist art which combined his name with the word “photograph.”

Ray’s artistic beginnings began shortly after World War I. The majority of the themes in his paintings depicted a society deeply traumatized by the destruction of war. In 1922, Ray debuted “rayographs” to the world.

Often, the images were everyday objects, obscure materials and body parts of human models placed onto a photosensitive canvas paper. Ray exposed the images to light, which created a negative photo.

Over time, he expanded his technique to moving images. All of his creative innovations brought Ray to the center of the surrealist movement. 

10 Most Famous Cubist Artists

The world of Cubism art finds its genesis in artists who populated France and Europe at the beginning of the 20th century

However, the roots of the style stretch from the early works of Cezanne in the 1800s to as late as current times in 2020 with Alexandra Nechita.

Here are 10 famous Cubist artists who defined the movement and continue to influence heavily the style today.

Famous Cubist Artists

1. Pablo Picasso

Born in the fall of 1881 in Malaga, Spain, Pablo Picasso spent his entire life tied to his country, its culture and its history.

His artwork developed early, and as a young man he entered the Academy of Fine Arts in La Lonja. Picasso’s first exhibit occurred near the age of 20 after he had spent most of 1899 being exposed to current artistic trends at the café Els Quatre Gats.

For the next five years Picasso’s style went from the Blue Period to the Rose Period, but Picasso’s Cubist approach did not bloom until 1908.

Early in his career he would have been considered a post-impressionist and some of his impressionist paintings serve as a bridge between his earlier years as an artists and his more most famous works.

For the next three years the artist refined his sense of Cubism from an initial planning and analytical phase to what became widely associated with his name.

By the time Guernica was painted in 1937 as a protest of the bombing of Spanish villagers, Picasso’s Cubism was in full maturity.

He is responsible for a one of the largest catalogues of well known Spanish paintings.

He lived until 1973 and spent his later years in France.

2. Georges Braque

Born in France in 1882, Braque was easily influenced by his country’s artistry perspectives which were reinforced during his tenure at Ecole des Beaux-Arts during his late teen years.

Originally, Braque had intended to be an interior decorator and studied for his trade certification. However during his early Paris years Braque met influences and shifted dramatically from Impressionism to Fauve style, which was very evident in a 1906 exhibition.

Two years later Braque provided his own solo show. It was at this point that Pablo Picasso and Braque crossed paths and became the grandfathers of Cubism. This lasted until 1914 when World War I put Braque on the front line.

After the war Braque rejected structure and flowed with creativity, and he was hired for ballet displays and major plaster work.

Surviving in Paris through World War II, Braque lived another eight years painting, making jewelry and lithographs but health limited Braque and he died in 1963.

3. Juan Gris

Not his original name, Juan Gris was born as Jose Gonzalez-Perez in 1887. A bit younger than his Cubism peers, Gris originally focused on mechanical drawing for a career in the industries, spending three years at the Escuela de Artes y Manufacturas located in Madrid, Spain. Much of Gris’ early work showed up in magazines and periodicals.

It was not until 1905 that he began to consider artistic painting after learning from Jose Maria Carbonero. A year later, Gris relocated to Paris, and there he met up with the major Cubism names that influenced his later work.

Gris spent the rest of his life in France’s capitol, and he spent much of the run up to World War I with the likes of Picasso, Braque and Raynal and Leger.

Gris commitment then appeared in painting in 1910 and within two years his version of Cubism became apparent. D.H. Kahnweiler and Leonce Rosenberg both sequentially sponsored Gris’ paintings, but Gris passed away in mid-1927 due to poor health.

4. Albert Gleizes

Raised in a fabric design studio in the 1880s, Gleizes was supposed to go into materials fabrication, but a military stint from 1901 to 1905 pushed him into painting instead.

Gleizes’ first exhibit appeared in 1902 while still in the military, and by 1906 he was well-established in Paris as a working artist. He lived and worked with other artists in a small commune, but it collapsed in 1908 due to money issues.

Gleizes displayed in a number of exhibits after working with and being influenced by Leger, Fauconnier and Metzinger, and by 1912 he was an instrumental co-author of Du cubisme. However, World War I service interrupted plans, and after the War Gleizes went very much into abstract styles.

Travel and spiritual searching revised Gleizes’ perspective on painting, and he created another commune in 1927 for artists. He continued to be influential in the 1930s with artwork displayed in the World’s Fair of 1937.

After World War II Gleizes continued with illustrations and large chapel paintings until he passed in mid 1953.

5. Paul Cézanne

A famous artist and name in traditional modern art history, Paul Cezanne started off as a post-impressionist. From there he delved into abstract views of brush strokes and light as well as using color and form to create visual differences and edges.

The style was so different, Cezanne has been titled the genesis of Modernism by many artists who came right after him 50 years later.

Cezanne, for his part, started far earlier than most Cubism artists, being born in 1839 and producing his first paintings in 1861 in Paris.

Cezanne had the fortune of being able to live off his father’s finances, so his entire effort went into art, producing significant works rooted in his initial education in Impressionism under Camille Pissaro.

While Cezanne passed away in 1906 and did not see the fruit if his work in younger artists, Cezanne’s style evolved in later Cubism artists.

6. Jean Metzinger

Born at about the same time as many of his Cubist peers, Metzinger developed his early painting influences directly in Paris being exposed to Robert Delauney.

Metzinger knew from the start his career was in painting, but it was in 1908 that he first met up with Braque and Picasso.

From there Metzinger’s painting style was heavily influenced by his association with Picasso until 1923.  He displayed his first show and set of works in 1910, and for the next two years regularly contributed to art literature on the details of modern art styles.

In 1911 Metzinger was one of a group of four artists who produced the Salle 41 exhibit, publicly launching the display of Cubism. He also worked on the writing of Du cubisme a year later as the theory bible of Cubism.

Metzinger continued to paint after his military service in World War I and stayed in Paris until his passing in 1956.

7. Paul Klee

As a young child Klee was already deep in the arts raised by a Swiss family of musicians.

That love of music was integrated into Klee’s perspective for the rest of his life, even after he moved to Munich for formal studies and skill development.

By the beginning of the 1900s Klee was done with school and studied for a while in Italy and abroad. Settling down again in 1902, Klee went off the grid until he started to dabble drawings and sketches in 1906.

By 1911 his work allowed Klee to be entered into exhibition and that channel Klee into exposure with Braque, Picasso and Delauney by 1912. Yet it wasn’t until 1914 that Klee began to work with color after an overseas trip to Tunisia.

World War I halted much of his work but by 1920 Klee was active again in Munich, writing and receiving an appointment to the Bauhaus the same year.

Klee stayed influential until the Nazis forced him to leave Germany in 1933. He spent the next seven years in his home country of Switzerland before passing in 1940.

8. André Lhote

Guaguin and Cezanne both provided the fundamental inspiration and foundations for Lhote’s work, which was quite natural since the artist was raised in Bourdeaux, France and learned his post-impressionism at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.

On this platform Lhote then evolved with interaction from Jean Metzinger and Marcel Duchamp. That genesis produced Lhote’s famous works, Cordes in 1912 and Le Porte of Bordueux two years later.

At this point, Lhote’s art was interrupted like many with World War I and military service. After the conflict, however, Lhote went on to continue as an art critic writer and then establishing his own art school.

He continued to paint and exhibit as well, and Lhote died in 1962 in Paris. Unlike his peers, Lhote likely had a far great and wider influence with his choice of combining landscape impressionism and Cubism together because he was able to cement the lessons in multiple generations with his art school programs.

9. Alexandra Nechita

Many would take a first look at Alexandra Nechita and ask simply based on age alone why she should be included among Cubism artists, much less their most influential names.

However, while Nechita was born much later in 1985 and started her painting work a few years later after emigrating with her family to the U.S., her strong study of Cubism has been compared multiple times to the work of Pablo Picasso himself.

Part of what makes Nechita’s painting so evoking involves classic choices that Picasso used as well: life-size large painting canvases, an extremely high attention to color detail and use of space, political messaging, and the sense of individual freedom.

Nechita completed a UCLA degree in Fine Arts in 2008 and continues to paint heavily living in Los Angeles. Her works provide a vivid display of bright, rich color with shading and brightness to distinguish shape and depth.

Nechita often describes her work as her inner feelings displayed, and her paintings move many emotionally.

10. Henri Le Fauconnier

Where many Cubism artists focused on people, objects and animals, Fauconnier found his style and muse in landscapes as well as still life’s.

Unlike some of his peers who wanted bold contrasts, Fauconnier chose to emphasize muted shades within outlines, including a bias for interlocking structures.

Fauconnier spent his career in France, moving to Paris at 20 and experimenting early in 1901. Cezanne was an early influence, but soon Fauconnier was also working alongside Metzinger and Leger in exhibitions in 1911.

World War I uprooted Fauconnier, and he relocated to the Netherlands which gave him time to study Dutch artwork and styles. However, Fauconnier returned to Paris after the War and stayed until his death in 1946 in Paris.

Some of the artists works still hang all over the world with pieces located in New York City’s Museum of Modern Art, the Frans Halls Museum in the Netherlands, and the Hermitage Museum located in St. Petersburg.


This list of abstract artists covers the main classical names in the movement which will be forever tied to each other for their style of art.

10 Most Famous Abstract Artists

The major names in this list of the most famous Abstract Artists broke stunning new ground in what could be considered as ‘art’ often inventing new techniques along the way.

For the average viewer abstract paintings can often be intimidating, sometimes met with confusion and as they were initially even with rejection.

The abstract artists merged both abstraction and surrealism into the same works and their rejection of more traditional representational art paved the way for what we can now consider what contemporary art is.

Famous Abstract Artists

1. Joan Miro

Joan Miro, born in 1893 Spain, started drawing at the early age of seven years old.

As a young man, he went to business school but abandoned that path after suffering a mental breakdown.

Instead, he pursued art and went to art school, having his first solo show in 1918, though it was defaced and ridiculed by his peers. Afterwards, he moved to Paris where he achieved a modestly successful career.

In his later years, the Spanish artist became very prolific until his death in 1983 due to heart failure. 

Miro rejected conventional painting which was supported by the bourgeois society. In his adulthood, he developed “automatic drawing” which allowed him to undo his learned techniques.

He had a hard-edge, avant-garde style that has shaped early modern art. He illustrated sexual symbols and is noted for his interest in the unconscious and subconscious mind. 

2. Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky, born in 1866 Moscow, is known as the Pioneer of Abstract Art. Though he began studying painting at thirty years old after giving up a career in law and economics, Kandinsky excelled in art school, feeling it was easy.

After the Russian Revolution, he helped establish the Art Culture Museum in Moscow and began studying art theory, publishing several theoretical writings throughout his life.

Towards the end of his life, he moved to France where he created his most famous pieces until his death in 1944.

Kandinsky felt a connection between his art and spirituality, leading to his paintings often illustrating biblical stories.

His most famous series Compositions, were meant to evoke a sense of religiousness in the viewer.

Having synesthesia, he drew inspiration from music for many of his paintings, believing music was the greatest teacher, though his style was also heavily influenced by Monet. 

3. Piet Mondrian

Piet Mondrian, born in 1872 Netherlands, was a pioneer of abstract art. His early works were figurative style, but he quickly transitioned to an extreme abstract concept, using only geometric shapes in his paintings.

Most of his works as an adult were paintings of squares and lines with solid colors. Though he didn’t illustrate religious figures, he used the natural and spiritual worlds as inspiration for his paintings.

The son of a painter, Mondrian grew up learning how to draw from his father. As an adult, he became a teacher, pursuing painting on the side until he moved to Paris and altered his name.

It wasn’t until after World War I that he embraced abstract art, leaning into his style of grid paintings.

He continued to paint throughout his life, moving across the world to many different cities, until he died from pneumonia in 1944 New York City. 

4. Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock, born in 1912 Wyoming, moved to New York City at eighteen years old to study under Thomas Hart Benton at the Art Students League, though he had little influence on Pollock’s style.

Influenced by Mexican muralists, he was attracted to the experimental workshop of David Alfaro Siqueiros where he was introduced to liquid paint techniques.

He eventually developed this into what is now known as drip technique where he laid canvases horizontally and painted using his whole body at multiple angles. His paintings in this style made him incredibly famous at the time. 

At the peak of his fame, Pollock abandoned his use of drip painting, attempting to create a blend of abstraction and figures.

These paintings were extremely unpopular and none of them ever sold. After being plagued with alcoholism throughout his adult life, Pollock died while driving intoxicated in 1956 at the age of forty-four. 

5. Willem de Kooning

Born in the Netherlands in 1904, Willem de Kooning left school at an early age to become an apprentice in a firm of commercial artists.

At twenty-two years old, he traveled as a stowaway on a boat until he eventually made his way to New York City and became a house-painter and carpenter. In 1934, de Kooning joined the Artists Union and began designing murals, but he had to leave because he was not a legal citizen.

Eventually, he received citizenship and opened his own studio where he worked until his death in 1997.

Most of de Kooning’s early adulthood paintings consisted of female figures, though they still use geometric and abstract elements. It wasn’t until his later years that he shifted to abstract imagery.

He also painted using action painting techniques where he would smear paint onto the canvas rather than carefully applying it. 

6. Mark Rothko

Markus Yakovlevich Rothkowitz, or Mark Rothko, was born in Latvia in 1903, but moved to the United States at a young age. He attended Yale for several years until he dropped out, believing it to be elitist and racist.

After visiting a friend in New York, he began painting and eventually moved to the city. He began exhibiting his works at the Opportunity Gallery and where they were well received.

In the early 1950’s, his works were shown at the Museum of Modern Art and he was recognized in Fortune magazine, leading to many of his personal relationships falling out due to jealousy. During an internationally successful career, he eventually died from suicide in 1970.

At first, Rothko’s paintings were dark and moody expressions. After meeting Milton Avery, however, his paintings took on a rich use of color. Similarly, his subjects evolved from mythological subjects to rectangular patterns of color and shades. 

7. Lucio Fontana

Lucio Fontana was born in 1899 Argentina to the son of a sculptor. During his youth, he worked with his father as a sculptor until he moved to Italy to study under Adolfo Wildt at Accademia di Brera where he presented his first exhibition.

He later returned to Argentina in 1940 to open his own academy based on Spatialism. There, he created five manifestos describing Spatialism as an artistic form. In his later years, he began staging his work in a large number of exhibitions worldwide until his death in 1968.

As the founder of Spatialism, Fontana was endlessly interested in the dimensionality of surfaces.

His early spatial works consisted of holes and cuts on the surface of paintings, often lining the back of the canvas to create depth. His style later changed where he would slather thick paint and then cut large gashes.

8. Cy Twombly

Edwin Parker Twombly, known as Cy Twombly, though he distanced himself from abstract expressionism, is a highly regarded abstract artist. After being exposed to the New York School early on in his career, he simplified his style, using less figurative aspects in his works.

Drawing inspiration from tribal art, he invoked primitivism in his pieces. He developed his own technique of gestural drawing where he would draw thin lines on a dark canvas to imitate the visualization of scratches. 

Born in 1928 Virginia, Twombly studied fine arts at several universities, receiving a scholarship to the Art League of New York. In 1951 he held his first solo exhibition in New York and subsequently received a grant that allowed him to travel Europe.

Upon his return, he joined the military and taught at a junior college after being released. After living with cancer for several years, Twombly eventually died in 2011.

9. Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richter was born in 1932 in the Weimar Republic. As a teenager, he left school to apprentice as a stage-set painter and later studied at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts.

After fleeing to West Germany before the Berlin Wall was erected, he studied under Karl Otto Got. Eventually he became a professor for several years before he moved to Cologne in 1983 where he still lives and continues to work.

Throughout his life, he has declined many private commissions, preferring to be very particular as to which deals he chooses.

In addition to his photo-realistic style, Richter produced abstract works as well. His works exhibit illusionistic space and the material of painting. In these, he would paint cumulative layers on a photorealist image to distort it and create textured grey monochromes.

Since the 1980’s, he changed his technique to using a squeegee to manipulate the paint he applies. 

10. Georgia O’Keeffe

Georgia O’Keeffe, born in 1887 in Wisconsin, was an esteemed painter recognized as the Mother of American Modernism. At eighteen years old, she studied at the Art institute of Chicago and Art Students League of New York subsequently.

Afterwards, she worked as a commercial illustrator until she discovered Arthur Wesley Dow who dramatically influenced her style and appreciation of painting, causing her to move to New York City to pursue artistry full-time. There, she became known for painting skyscrapers and close-ups of flowers. 

O’Keeffe later moved to New Mexico where she opened her own studio, shifting her subjects to those in the mountains of Taos.

After a short period of nervous breakdowns where she stopped all artistic pursuits in the 1930’s, she began painting again, creating some of her most well-known works.

After losing much of her eyesight in her later years, she stopped painting until her death in 1986. 


This list of famous abstract artists although not exhaustive does cover the main protagonist of the movement and we hope that it serves as a stepping point for your own research.

10 Most Famous Spanish Artists

Contained in this list of the most famous Spanish artists are names that are responsible for some of the biggest leaps forward in the evolution of art to this day.

Picasso, Dali and Diego Velazquez can all be considered trail blazers of their day and turned the conventional art world on it’s head.

Famous Spanish Artists

1. Pablo Picaso

Picasso is considered to be one of the most famous painters of the 20th century.  In addition to painting, he was also a sculptor, playwright, poet, and print maker.

Picasso is also known as the founder of Cubism and constructed sculpture.  He started drawing when he was a little boy. At the age of seven, he already received his first training on oil drawing from his father. 

In 1900 he moved to Paris and got his first painting job. By earning money for his paintings, Picasso was traveling throughout Europe. There are several periods in his painting career:

The Blue Period (1901-1904) characterized by a flurry of paintings and The Rose Period (1904-1906) – the period of different shades of rose and brighter colors. Later in his life was focused on painting humanitarian images and was fighting for peace. 

2. Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali is not only one of the most famous Spanish artists, but also one of the pioneers of surrealism in painting.

He influenced many modern artists to move out from repetitive and traditional styles and start creating something truly unique. In 1916 his parents noticed his talent and admitted him into a drawing school.

In 1919 his father organized his first exhibition. In 1922 Dali started studying at the Art Institute in Madrid where was introduced to cubism and dadaism.

However, in 1923 he was expelled from the academy for anti-establishment activities. He returned to the academy in 1926 but was suspended again for his cynic attitude towards teachers. After that, he traveled to Paris and met Picasso.

In Paris he created one of his most famous paintings The Persistence of Memory in 1931. Later, he returned back to Spain where he worked for the Museum and Dali Theater in his hometown Figueres. 

3. Diego Velasquez

Diego Velasquez is a Spanish painter born in Sevilla, Spain in 1599. He lived and painted all his life until the day of his death in 1660.

He started painting at the age of 11  under the guidance of Francisco Pacheco, one of the local Spanish artists. By the year 1617, he had already achieved the last period of the apprenticeship and decided to open his own studio.

In the period from 1629 to 1631, he had been living in Italy by learning techniques of other Italian painters. After he came back to Spain he got involved in drawing the series of portraits and members of the king’s court.

In 1649 he traveled back to Italy, where he got an opportunity to draw the portrait of Pope Innocent X. One of his most famous and intriguing works is La Venus del Espejo also known as Rokeby Venus.

Another famous work of Velasques is The Spinners. It is also one of his final works created in 1657.

4. Joan Miro

Joan Miro was born in Barcelona, Spain, and was exposed to art from an early age by watching his father who was a watchmaker.

He started studying business at one of the schools in Barcelona but soon decided to resume his art studies and attended the school of Art in Barcelona from 1912 to 1915.

Early in his life, Miro painted primarily genre scenes, still life, and landscapes. However, after relocating to Paris in 1921 he got captivated by more contemporary styles, including Surrealism, Fauvism, and Cubism.

He still remains one of the most influential painters in Spain – his geometric shapes, biomorphic forms, and semi-abstracted objects are expressed in engravings, installations, and ceramics. He continued to create works until his death in 1983. 

5. Francisco De Goya

Francisco De Goya – a famous Spanish painter who was born in 1746 in Northern Spain. Today his works can be seen in the Prado Museum located in Madrid.

He began painting at the age of 14 and started with portraits. in 1779, Goya became the King’s painter. The following year he got admitted to the Royal Academy of San Fernando and kept growing as a portrait artist.

One of the most famous portraits created by Goya is The Duke and Duchess of Osuna and their Children appreciated for capturing the tiniest elements of the people’s faces and clothes.

However, he painted not only portraits but also the moments of his country’s history.

Thus, Goya created a series of paintings depicting the horrors of war with Napoleon. In 1824 he moved to Bordeaux, France, where he kept painting until the day of his death. 

6. El Greco

El Greco is one of the most influential and well known Spanish artists. He was born on the Greek island Crete and in 1567 relocated to Venice, Italy. By 1566 he had already been an established painter of icons.

In Italy El Greco took the Venetian Renaissance style of Jacopo Bassano, Titian, and Tintoretto, which helped him to transform into an Italianate painter. In 1570 he moved to Rome, where he got accepted into the household of Cardinal Alessandro Farese.

For the following six years he had been drawing portraits of different men who gathered at the Farnese Palace. In 1572 he was expelled from the Cardinal’s household and remained in Italy until 1576.

Then he moved to Madrid and finally settled in Toledo, where he passed away in 1614. One of the most Spanish famous paintings created by El Greco is The Burial of the Count of Orgaz that represents the miracle that occurred in 1323. 

7. Juan Gris

Juan Gris is a Spanish artist who was born in Madrid in 1887. In the period from 1902 to 1904 he had been studying mechanical drawing at the Escuela de Artes y Manufacturas in Madrid.

All the drawings that he created during that period of time contributed to local periodicals. In 1916 he decided to move to Paris, where he met many famous and influential artists, including Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, and Pablo Picasso.

One of his most famous paintings is the portrait of Picasso that he created in 1912. Gris is also known for his darkly humorous illustrations that he created for such journals as Le Charivari, L’assiette au beurre, and Le Rire. However, in 1910 he began to paint seriously and by 1912 had developed his own personal Cubist style. 

8. Francisco Zurbarán

Francisco Zurbaran was born in a small village Fuentedecantos located in the region of Extremadura.

In the period from 1616 to 1619 he had his apprenticeship in Sevilla, after which he settled in a market town Llerena.

In 1630 he moved to Seville again and began to establish his reputation as a talented painter. Soon, he became one of the leading painters of Andalusia and started receiving commissions.

He also established his own workshop and was creating paintings for the clients all over Spain and the world.

In the 1640s he had produced a number of paintings for the Indies Trade, which had a significant impact on the development of painting in the Spanish colonies. In 1658 the artist moved to Madrid, where he passed away 6 years later. 

9. Bartolomé Esteban Murillo

Murillo was one of the most influential painters from Seville, Spain in the 17th century.

He also remained one of the most admired European artists in the 18th and 19th centuries.

His early works were influenced by Velasquez. However, unlike Velasquez, Murillo is considered more as a folklorist painter of Spanish baroque though most Murillo’s paintings are religious.

He created several paintings for the Seville Cathedral and specialized in the theme of the Virgin and Child and Immaculate Conception.

In 1645 he also created the series of seven works on canvas for the Convent of St Francisco. 

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo is also known as one of the founders of the Seville Academy of Art that was established in 1660. Among Murillo’s most recognized works is the Santa Maria La Blanca created in 1665. 

10. Joaquin Sorolla

A Spanish impressionist painter Joaquin Sorolla was born on the coast of Valencia in Spain in 1863 and therefore is well known for his depictions of water and beach scenes.

He was also proficient in landscape and portraiture painting. He started learning painting at the age of 15, and once he turned 18 he moved to Madrid.

In Madrid he had been copying Old Master Paintings in the Prado Museum. Then he studied in Rome, where he learned how to depict the effects of light.

When returned back to Madrid, he was already a famous and well-recognized painter.

In 1911 he was even picked by the Hispanic Society of America to do decorative works for its library in New York City.

In 1933 J. Paul Getty purchased a couple of Sorolla’s paintings at the auction impressed by their remarkable quality and unique treatment of light. 


This collections of famous Spanish artists and painters although not exhaustive covers the main protagonists in the movement.

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