Artists We’re Inspired By
Throughout history, artists who we're inspired by have been the vanguards of expression, challenging the status quo and shaping the cultural milieu of their times. Artists like Leonardo da Vinci, whose insatiable curiosity married art with science, revolutionized the Renaissance, setting a precedent for the importance of interdisciplinary thought.
Frida Kahlo, with her introspective self-portraits, gave voice to personal pain and the complexities of identity, redefining the boundaries of artistic vulnerability. Pablo Picasso's innovative styles in the 20th century, such as Cubism, transformed the way we perceive form and perspective. Banksy, a contemporary and anonymous street artist, employs satire and subversive epigrams to challenge political systems and societal norms.
These luminaries, among countless others, haven't just created art; they've instigated change, fostered global dialogues, and altered the very fabric of how we understand and interact with the world around us. Their legacies remind us that creativity isn't merely an aesthetic endeavor—it's a powerful force for transformation and progress.
Was perhaps one of the most famous artists of all time to simultaneously court celebrity and maintain his bona fides in the professional art community. Dali is almost synonymous to modern surrealism, and his life seemed to coincide with his art style - almost as a marketing ploy. He became famous in his day for wearing an incredibly long and creatively styled mustache, which he once twisted into a dollar bill for an autobiographical pictorial book. His paintings were full of post-apocalyptic desert scenes, and he was famous for his melting watches, which showed up in many of his works.
Georgia O’Keeffe blended abstraction, symbolism, and precision. She courted a great deal of controversy in her day as many critiques thought her paintings were sexual in nature. She denied this accusation. True art critiques recognize that there is a great deal more to her work than obvious symbolism. Her accomplishments were made all the more impressive because many women of her day were held back in art circles. One of her most famous paintings is titled Oriental Poppies.
Leonardo da Vinci
Is the original Renaissance Man - a true master of many artistic disciplines. He is the painter of the venerable Mona Lisa, The Lady with an Ermine, and The Last Supper. However, he is just as revered for his skill in drawing technology, including things that would not be invented until 500 years in the future. His work includes diagrams of automobiles, planes and tanks. He also gained fame for his drawing of the human anatomy.
Frida Kahlo was courted celebrity, but she also made a significant imprint on Mexican culture in the world of art.
Many of her paintings were autobiographical and spoke to creativity from limited spaces. One of her most famous paintings is titled Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird.
Was known as a sculptor, an architect and a painter. Some of his most famous works include St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and the David and Pieta sculpture. When he was not sculpting, creating buildings or painting, he was also creating vivid poetry that still resonates in many circles to this day. Unlike many artists, he was revered during his lifetime as well as after his death, and received many commissions from royalty. These commissions include the Tomb of Pope Julian II, the Laurentian Library at San Lorenzo Church and the Last Judgment - also at the Sistine Chapel.
A major influencer of modern art, Louise Bourgeois was known for content that recalled the unconscious, sexual desire, and the body. She helped shape modern and contemporary art and is most known for her spider sculpture titled Maman, which stands over 30 feet and has been replicated all over the world.
Is a Dutchman who is known as one of the greatest artists in history. Some of his most famous works include Doctor Nicolaes Tulp's Demonstration of the Anatomy of the Arm and The Night Watch.
Even these, however, pale in comparison to some of his portraits, including self-portraits, which were known to be incredibly insightful as to the emotional state of the subject.
He was a master of using facial expressions and light to display strong and very detailed emotion, as in his 1661 painting Self Portrait as the Apostle Paul.
South African Marlene Dumas focuses much on the female form and nude art in the setting of pornography and celebrity drama. Her paintings represent an emotional state that one could be in. Serious issues and topics such as sexuality and race, guilt and innocence, violence and tenderness is her focus.
Many of her works are seen as influential, such as The Visitor, that depicts prostitutes from a unique angle.
Is an artist who was somehow forgotten for more than two centuries. In the 19th century, his work was rediscovered. He has been known as one of art's greatest sons ever since. His 1665 work Het meisje met de parel, or Girl with a Pearl Earring, stands as one of the single most captivating portrait works in the world. He is credited with foreshadowing the technique of photorealism by the soft blur that he used to bring more attention to certain aspects of his paintings. He is also well known as one of the first artists to use light as its own subject within a painting.
Is an English artist best known for her autobiographical and confessional artwork. She produces work in a variety of media including drawing, painting, sculpture, film, photography, neon text and sewn applique.
Her most famous piece My Bed may not be considered ‘art’ in some areas, it’s beyond a doubt that Tracey is one of the famous faces of British Art today. Many of her pieces are neon works and unusual installations; her paintings are profoundly disturbing.
Is known for using color to evoke sensual pleasures in his paintings. Although his work is considered revolutionary, he himself was all about balance in his work, and has been quoted many times as such.
However, his technique was all about the technique of sinuous curves and a precise focus on hue and pigment. He was highly influenced by figurative art, and influenced many artists after him to explore hidden sexuality in a seemingly balanced art style.
Is a contemporary British painter whose nude portraits of large beautiful female bodies have brought her international acclaim. Among her best-known works, is the large-scale self-portrait Branded (1992). She distorts her own torso and breasts making both body parts captivating. She takes much from the extensive study of plastic surgery and trauma that make up her borderline abstract sketches and drawings. Jenny is considered a Young British Artist of the 1980s, a highly prestigious title.
Was a leading artist of the Romantic period and one of the giants of art in the 19th century. He ushered in an age of art that prioritized emotions over the rational placement of concepts in a painting. He was known to use paint in extremely expressive ways and innovated many uses of color that influenced many generations of artists after him. He was especially influential to the Avant Garde movement that occurred in the 1800s. One of his most famous works is his Self Portrait with Green Vest.
Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi
Often shortened to Sandro Botticelli, was an artist from the Florentien School of the early Renaissance. He was not considered a top artist until the late 19th century, after which he came into the better graces of art critics.
He was best known for painting mythological creatures, religious figures and portraits. Some of his most famous works include The Birth of Venus and Primavera.
Julie Mehretu is a contemporary visual artist from Ethiopia. best known for large scale multi-layered paintings of abstracted landscapes. Her work depicts the cumulative effects of urban sociopolitical changes through the landscape's alteration of architecture, topography, and iconography.
Her has work that is intricate, and extraordinarily detailed, Using a unique form of Abstract Expressionism, she has become one of the most successful woman painters of Africa. She takes topography and urban landscapes as a source of inspiration, as seen in her Easy Dark painting.
Painted what is known as the "Austrian Mona Lisa," the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I.
He is also well known for The Kiss. In his wider body of work, he was notable for using gold leaf in his paintings, a technique that he created after being inspired by the Byzantine frescoes in Italy. The story of the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I served as the basis of the film "Woman in Gold," a movie starring famed actress Helen Mirren.
Using photo-realistic painting, Latvian born Vija Celmins shows off hyper-realism to portray the nature, oceans, and starry skies.
Her work has been described as an Ansel Adams photograph where the beauty of natural vistas shines through, as in her Explosion at Sea photo.
Is a testament to productivity through self-aggrandizement. He was a self-destructive person who was consistently plagued by personal clumsiness, self-doubt and alcohol. He produced the majority of his most famous work between the period of 1947 and 1950. During this time, Pollock created drip abstractions and used a technique that would eventually become known as action painting.
is a painter and writer. She is best known for her portraits of fictitious subjects painted in muted colors. Originally from Ghana now residing in the US, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye focuses on incorporating black faces into contemporary art. Her work has contributed to the renaissance in painting the black figure.
She took on the role after noticing the only black faces in art history were those of servants. She was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2012 for works such as L'Ortolan.
Along with Paul Signac, brought the concept of pointillism to the wider art world. In this technique, the artist applies only small dots of color and leaves the resolution of the image to the viewing eye.
He brought back the static nature of classical art that was a bit lost in the capture-the-moment approach that was popular during the time. One of his most popular paintings was A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.
Australian-born Iraqi artist Toba Khedoori is known primarily for highly detailed mixed media paintings done on large sheets of wax coated paper.
She paints in a manner that the viewer must stand incredibly close to the image to appreciate the intricacies of her paintings.
Her work has been described as “epic and intimate, bold and fragile, detailed and vague,” such as her untitled work on leaves and branches.
Is known in many circles as the greatest French painter in the 18th century.
He is credited with ushering in the Rococo movement from the Baroque art of the period. Rococo styled art takes many more liberties with movement and color, two techniques that Jean-Antoine Watteau mastered. His works were made to resemble scenes at a theatre, with a strong atmospheric quality that was almost as important as the core subject matter. He was a huge influence on the Impressionist artists of the future, including the famed J. M. W. Turner.
Better known for her work in pastels and collage, Sonia Boyce emerged from the British Black Arts Movement in the 1980s, she is one of the better-known artists in the UK. She helps to change the attitudes of race and multiculturalism something her work has always portrayed. One of her example works, Missionary Position II, draws open speculation on the nature of religion and perception in the black community.
Is one of the best known, if not the best-known Impressionist of the movement. He is best known for his technique of showing light as a changeable element in a static painting, using a rapid painting style to create color as prismatic shards. He also studied detailed subjects such as haystacks to develop a use of serial imagery that became fully realized in the Minimalism and Pop Art movements. However, he also had a great deal of influence over the Color Field Abstraction and Abstract Expressionism techniques as well.
Is best known for his famous painting The Scream, which has been sold for US $120 million at auction. Many circles refer to The Scream as "the Mona Lisa of anxiety." Although he is most famous for this work, his archives have influenced many artists in generations after him. He is known as the father of Expressionism in some circles, and he is a noted influence of artists including Max Beckmann, Erich Heckel and Egon Schiele.
Bridget Riley is perhaps the most famous female Opt art artist, and her 1960s paintings are the Op Art movement. Optical art, or opt art, is a sub-genre of abstract art where optical illusion is created through patterns, shapes, and colors.
In 1968, she represented Great Britain in the Venice Biennale and became the first woman awarded the International Prize for painting.
Tamara de Lempicka
Tamara de Lempicka, a Polish painter, stood alone as a traditional easel painter working in the Art Deco style. She is best known for portraits of aristocrats and the wealthy.
In 1927, Tamar won the first prize at the Exposition Internationale des Beaux Arts in Bordeaux, France for her portrait of Kizette on the Balcony. She would win several other national and international awards for her artwork.
Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino
Better known as Raphael, was a Renaissance architect and painter who was well known for his precision and form. He achieved many of his greatest works imitating the human form, using his talent to elevate the body to grand proportions. He was an incredibly prolific artist, and although he died at the young age of 37, his body of work was that of a much older man. Many artists of future generations attempted to finish his unfinished drawings, and the art world is rife with stories of their inability to truly capture the essence of what made Raphael a great artist.
Rosa Bonheur began her career at the age of 19 and swiftly recognized as a talented painter.
Queen Victoria had high praise for Bonheur’s masterpiece, The Horse Fair. She is best known for her anatomically correct painting of animals. In 1865, Rosa became the first woman to be awarded the Grand Cross Legion of Honor.
Is credited with the creation of truly commercial art. Although he did not invent the Pop Art genre, he is the person who popularized it by marrying it with the world of movie celebrity and fashion. He is credited with being the first artist to bring the fine art aesthetic into the world of advertising. Warhol was a master of the sound bite, with two of his most famous quotes being, "Everyone gets 15 minutes of fame" and "making money is art." He was a stark contrast to the high art aesthetic and pretense of the popular Abstract Expressionism of the day. His most famous painting may be of the Campbell's Soup Can, but his most famous creation is perhaps Andy Warhol.
Born in England but living most of her adult life in Mexico, Leonora Carrington is known for being one of the most famous female Surrealist artists to date.
Her first work in the genre was a portrait of Max Ernst, a paramour, created as a tribute to their relationship.
She is attributed for calling her paintings haunting and autobiographical that capture sorcery, metamorphosis, alchemy, and the occult. Her art expresses female sexuality in a distinctively different way, such as Around Wall Street.
Is an artist whose work has made its way to the social media generation. Her so-called Infinity Rooms are a mainstay on Instagram. The artist herself has been plagued by mental instability, which she uses as one of the main inspirations for her work.
Since 1977, she has been self-committed to a Japanese mental hospital, but her most impressive and notable work came from her hallucinations. She was a performance artist as well, and much of her notable work in New York had elements of public nudity involved.
Born in Pennsylvania, Mary Cassatt trained in France remained there for most of her career. She became the only American artist to show in Paris with the Impressionists.
She was described by Gustave Geffroy in 1894 as one of "les trois grandes dames" (the three great ladies) of Impressionism alongside Marie Bracquemond and Berthe Morisot. In 1879, Diego Martelli, compared her to Degas, as they both sought to depict movement, light, and design in the most modern sens.
Mary’s work focused on the intimate bonds between mothers and children. Her work, The Child’s Bath, illustrates her style and focus.
Took the concept of Americana as his main inspiration. However, he explored the negative side of the coin, taking on loneliness as his main emotion and alienation as his number one "talking point." In Office in a Small City, Nighthawks and Automat, he explored the elusive search for happiness and subjects that seemed to be caught in between a need to be more productive and a purpose for that work. He also seems to delight in turning idyllic scenes on their heads to evoke the sense of being punished.
Is better known today for what she had to cover up rather than what she displayed. Her life became the focus of her work, having been abused, maltreated, raped, and violated by courts before she was 25. After marrying and relocating, she painted some of the most realistic and brutal pieces of artwork ever produced by a woman. Her work, Susanna and the Elders, depicts a Biblical story of men violating the private time of a Susanna where they attempt to rape her through blackmail. On the surface, the image is teasing and almost innocent, typical of the era. Recent technology uncovered the original painting which was graphic, violent, and heart-wrenching. It’s believed this image was covered over because it depicted the acts of the men to be too sinful.
Vincent van Gogh
Was just as well known for his mental instability as he was for his works of art. He famously cut off a part of his ear after arguing with another painter, Paul Gauguin.
Despite his mental unwellness, he was one of the most revered painters of his time and known as one of the greatest painters of all time. His work has inspired Top 40 pop songs and countless imitations. He is best known for his technique of thick brushstrokes and bright colors that were often taken raw from the paint tube.
An artist from Vienna heavily influenced by the Expressionist movement, was well known for his intensely sexual and psychologically profound works.
As a matter of fact, he was known as the most intense of the painters to come out of this period and place in time. When you look at a painting from Egon Schiele, you can expect anxiety, pressure, explicit emotion and jittery technique that is at the same time incredibly precise.
He was just as well known for his outrageous personality as he was for his amazing work. He was always going against the grain politically as well as artistically, yet he kept enough rich commissions to live an incredibly lavish lifestyle. He is credited with the creation of the collage technique and Cubism, which set a completely different tempo for the rest of the 20th century in terms of artistic expression. Picasso is said to have commercialized abstraction, but the list of his achievements on various artistic mediums is difficult to fathom without years of study.
Is known as the "Father of the Surreal," and with good reason. He is just as widely recognized by agnostics as he is by pure artists, as he took most of his time to paint images that made very little sense to the logical eye.
His most famous works, including The Roof of the World, are surreal masterpieces that have taken on a greater meaning in religious, political and social communities outside of art.
Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi
Was a Renaissance artist most famous for bas relief artwork, a substyle of shadow relief sculpture.
Donatello's most famous works include The Feast of Herod, Equestrian Monument of Gattamelata, Judith and Holofernes, David, St. Mark and Zuccone. He worked with stucco, wood, wax, clay and stone and was famous for being able to direct teams of assistants to achieve very large ideas in very short periods of time.