Arts, fame, talent, all these blend together with subjectivity in high doses, which makes it difficult to evaluate how one artist is greater than another or which one is better. In other words, it’s almost impossible to define the best or the most famous, but history in general could be of more than a little help on the matter.
The fame of the greatest artists goes beyond centuries and people in general tend to remember those names more than somebody who didn’t shine too bright, so relying on the general opinion of people across various periods of our history could provide a clear enough answer.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder they say and that’s true, but if that beauty appears similar in millions and millions of eyes, past and present, well, that is something of significance. That makes a work of art and an artist famous after all.
Taking a look through history, we’ve come up with an answer. In our opinion, these are the 10 most famous artists of all time:
10. Frida Kahlo (1907 – 1954)
Mexican artist Frida Kahlo was a master of canvas and paint and one of the most iconic symbols of the feminist movement. Her works of art portray the grim reality of the world and life in general. She used her mastery to paint surrealistic portraits of herself, showing her vulnerabilities and her personal and physical suffering.
9. Jan Vermeer (1632 – 1675)
Dutch painter Jan Vermeer is considered one of the most important figures in the history of arts. His works are vivid portrayals of still life and have an uncanny beauty to them, reason for which many considered that he used an obscure camera to capture his images.
Among his most famous works there are the Girl With a Pearl Earring, The Milkmaid and View of Delft.
8. Edvard Munch (1863 – 1944)
Edvard Munch’s The Scream is probably one of the most widely recognized paintings of all time, due to its iconic evocation of the feelings of angst and fear. Some even go as far as naming the painting the Mona Lisa of anxiety.
Munch is seen as the one who contributed to the spread of Expressionism and he influenced artists such as Max Beckmann, Egon Schiele and Erich Heckel.
7. Salvador Dali (1904 – 1989)
With his bizarre mustache and outlandish appearance but mostly for his works of art, Salvador Dali continues to be widely recognized as the most odd artist of all times. During his life, he has influenced the workings of the Renaissance, but what usually comes to anyone’s minds when he’s mentioned are the melting clocks and eerie landscapes.
His paintings represent the epitome of Surrealism and his work of art The Persistence of Memory is one of his most famous, with watches melting away in an eerie landscape.
6. Claude Monet (1840 – 1926)
The French painter Claude Monet was one of the founders of the French Impressionist movement and also a figure of Pop Art and Minimalism. Most of his paintings resemble the passing of seasons and the ways in which light modified the landscape, capturing it through prismatic shards of color in rapidly painted strokes.
His most recognized paintings are Waterlilies, Women in Garden and Impression Sunrise.
5. Rembrandt (1606 – 1669)
Rembrandt, also known as the Dutch Master, is one of the greatest painters and one of the biggest artists in all history, greatly admired for his mastery with which he crafted all his works of art. His paintings are admired for the vivid reality depicted and for the skillful illustration of his subjects’ inner feelings, through the careful play of facial expressions and the fall of light.
He’s known for masterworks such as The Night Watch and Doctor Nicolaes Tulp’s Demonstration of the Anatomy of the Arm.
4. Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973)
The Spanish Pablo Picasso, known as a modern “cubist” painter, is considered a genius and one of the most important figures in the history of modern art.
He was the one to change the very definition of classic art by introducing concepts such as the collage or the more important Cubism, impressing and inspiring various 20th century artists. His image is the one of the genius artist with a great appetite for living large. Some of his most famous works include Guernica, Bird of Peace and Woman with Fan.
3. Vincent van Gogh (1853 – 1890)
Vincent van Gogh was a Dutch post impressionist painter widely known for being mentally unstable – especially for cutting part of one of his ears – but also for his works of art, which are among the most famous and cherished of all time.
He inspired upcoming generations of artists especially through his technique of painting with flurries of thick brushstrokes made up of bright colors squeezed straight from the tube.
Some of his paintings, among the most famous ones, are Starry Night, Cafe Terrace at Night and Sunflowers.
2. Michelangelo (1475 – 1564)
Michelangelo is one of the most famous artists of all time, known especially for his iconic mural painting of the Sistine Chapel. But Michelangelo wasn’t only a painter. He was a sculptor and an architect as well and – less known to many – he also wrote poetry.
A Renaissance artist, he inspired many and still serves as an inspiration for young artists of the 21st century. Besides the work on the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo also created the sculpture David and Pietà, the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the famous carving of Moses on the tomb for Pope Julian II, and the design for the Laurentian Library at San Lorenzo’s Church. Twenty years later from his famous painting of the Sistine Chapel, he returned to create one of the greatest frescoes of the Renaissance, The Last Judgment.
1. Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519)
Leonardo da Vinci, probably the most important Renaissance artist, is widely recognized as the most famous and influential artist of all time. He’s the genius behind the iconic Mona Lisa painting masterpiece, after all. Beyond painting, da Vinci was also a scientist and inventor and he created plenty of drawings of the human body and many modern technologies found in the world today. To say that he was a genius is not enough.
Among his famous masterpieces, there are also the Last Supper and The Lady with an Ermine. Even nowadays, his works are not fully understood and he still serves as inspiration for many, many aspiring artists.