The 20th century was an exciting, complex period in art history that had broken away from tradition and changed the way we look at art forever. You might feel like you’ve entered the Twilight Zone when you see paintings by 20th-century modernist painters like Pablo Picasso and Wassily Kandinsky.
Filled with tumultuous events, the period saw the emergence of prolific movements, styles, theories that all shaped a century like no other before. After World War I, modernist painters, including Picasso and Kandinsky, are known for their artistic innovations and abstract paintings. An interesting fact about the artists’ names is that they were famous by their last name so you can also easily find a list of painters by last name.
However, not all famous artists’ names of the 20th century were modernists; there were impressionist painters like Claude Monet and Surrealist painters like Salvador Dalí. Here we assemble a rundown of five of the most influential painters of the 20th century. Let’s dive into finding an artist by name who changed the course of art history.
- Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Pablo Picasso was a well-known Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, and ceramicist who used various styles and techniques in his work. He is known for founding the Cubist movement and for incorporating a wide variety of styles into his work.
He rejected traditional ideas of proportion and perspective, breaking the rules and approaching art in a completely new way. Picasso challenged the institution and explored new artistic possibilities. His varied and innovative style, constant experimentation with both form and technique, and interest in depicting the human psyche and emotions.
His painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907), for example, uses geometrical lines to present emotion and impression rather than reality. Painter Pablo Picasso continued to paint until the end of his life when he died in 1973 at the age of 91. Picasso was one of the most renowned artists in modern history and is considered a genius.
- Frida Kahlo (1907-1954)
Frida Kahlo was an artist who painted self-portraits that reflect her inner emotions and feelings. She was born in Coyoacán, Mexico, in 1907. Her paintings are characterized by bright colors, strong lines, and symbolism.
Kahlo’s art addresses identity, gender roles, motherhood, politics, and religion. Many are drawn from her own life experiences—some depict things she experienced herself, others are imaginary scenes inspired by literature. She also painted self-portraits throughout her career.
On top of it, she was profoundly personal and outspokenly political, simultaneously one-of-a-kind and relatable. Many paintings by Frida Kahlo are very famous, including The Two Fridas and Self-Portrait with Monkey. Her bewitchingly self-reflective works of art evoke pain and tenderness, femininity, and the strength of a unique spirit.
- Salvador Dali (1904-1989)
Salvador Dali, an oil painting artist, was a Spanish artist who epitomized surrealism. Dali was a Spanish painter and sculptor best known for his surrealist paintings. His paintings are particularly notable for their fantastic dreamscapes, eroticism, striking color, and famous quote from his autobiography: I never did drugs; I am drugs.
A prolific artist with over 500 pieces to his name, Dali is considered one of the most recognized artists in history. He had a unique perspective on art that has influenced modern-day art today. Unlike the other Surrealists, Dalí’s work was exact and meticulous in both execution and concept. He used his artwork to try and discover the workings of the human mind, specifically how we perceive certain things, how dreams are formed, and how things might be perceived.
The Persistence of Memory along with The Temptation of Saint Anthony are the two most popular and fascinating paintings by artist name – Salvador Dali!
- Jackson Pollock (1912-1956)
Jackson Pollock was an icon of Abstract Expressionism; a movement that emerged in the aftermath of World War II as new art for a troubled world. His iconic drip paintings do not depict objects or stories but are records of his relationship with the paint and the act of painting itself.
The dominant figure in American Abstraction in the 1940s; Pollock’s innovative and bold work is boldly iconic and critically exciting, and fun to look at. A true icon of 20th-century art, Pollock shaped generations of artists in his wake.
Pollock’s paintings are characterized by a dense network of interweaving black lines, evocative of ancient cave paintings and the abstract styles of Surrealist artists such as Miró, who influenced his work heavily. Heavily textured and vibrant, his works are seen as prime examples of Abstract Expressionism. The iconic paintings of Jackson Pollock include the She-Wolf and Mural.
- Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)
Wassily Kandinsky, one of the artist names of the 20th century, was the Russian painter who was part of a group called Der Blaue Reiter, or the blue rider. The artist loved to express himself by using abstract shapes, lines, and color. As a result, his paintings are often viewed as visual music.
His artworks are characterized by bright colors and simple geometric shapes that evoke a feeling of freedom. As he developed his theory of pure painting. he believed that painting should be free from any symbolic elements such as figures or landscapes. Instead, it should focus on color and form alone to create its composition. The result is paintings with bright colors, stark lines, and surrealistic imagery.
Kandinsky’s paintings from 1910 to 1930 are considered masterpieces, featuring his abstract style. His most well-known works include Composition VII and On White II.
There are many famous artists’ names globally; but these prominent artists of the 20th century have secured a place for themselves for their extraordinary creativity and talent. From the modernist movements to the dawn of postmodernism, 20th-century artists pushed boundaries, redefined beauty, and inspired new art movements. Art lovers worldwide are grateful to these famous artists for the beautiful creations; they gave to this world that inspire new generations. The paintings by artist name will be loved forever, and they will continue to enlighten the world.