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16 Famous and Revolutionary Painters

Kashmira Lad
Art has been depicted through various styles and forms since ancient times. Here is a look at some famous painters who set trends and created a phenomenon in the world of art.
Art is witnessing many new changes and trends with time, there are certain famous painters who still rule the roost and have paved the path for many. These famous painters were more than just artists; their life and interests were a complete enigma in themselves!
Art took the form of several wonderful sculptures and structures of architecture. It also took form of paintings that were sometimes representative of these architectural marvels, sometimes nature, and sometimes the painter's own imagination.
Art was thus seen all over and such painters have inspired millions the world over, with their sheer talent and genius. Let's take a look at several such famous painters who were true artists in every sense.

Vincent van Gogh (30th March, 1853 - 29th July, 1890)

Vincent van Gogh has a number of amazing paintings that prove to be an inspiration for artists all over the world. He started painting at a very early age, amassing more than 2,000 major works of art.
The Dutch man can be considered to have been the creator of post-impressionism. Although influenced by the French Impressionists, he went ahead to form his own style of painting.
Although rumored to have cut off his own ear, van Gogh actually lost it in a fight with another artist, Paul Gauguin. The real version of the story may never be known, as both artists preserved a pact of silence about the incident.

Pablo Picasso (25th October, 1881 - 8th April, 1973)

Pablo Picasso was a Spanish artist who is also known widely as a founder of the Cubist style of art. His paintings can be categorized into various periods such as the Blue Period, Rose Period, Analytic Cubism, etc.
Cubism was a particular style he developed with the assistance of Georges Braque. To produce the desired effect, both these artists studied objects beforehand and then represented them on canvas based on their thinking and imagination of the particular lines.
Aside from painting, Picasso was also considered to be a revolutionary in the field of plastic and ceramic arts. He is the co-creator of the art of collage, the inventor of constructed sculpture, and a pioneer in printmaking.

Rembrandt van Rijn (15th July, 1606 - 4th October, 1669)

Rembrandt will always be the most important artistic figure in Dutch history. He mostly used the Baroque style of painting, mixed with his own set of ideologies, to create some of the finest works of art that portray the Dutch Golden Age.
He lived a curiously fluctuating life. His personal conditions were as adverse as his paintings were magical. He even showed it in his self-portraits, never failing to miss the slightest infliction of time and financial inadequacy, using the perfect light.
He will always be famous for the way he illuminates a painting. It almost seems as if some of his subjects emanate light from within, rather than being illuminated by outer sources, like the little girl in his most famous work, 'The Night Watch.'

Francisco de Goya (30th March, 1746 - 16th April, 1828)

Goya was considered to be a transitional artist between old art and modern art. He was the last of the Old Masters and the first of the modern artists. Some of the biggest names in art, like Manet, Picasso, and Bacon hail Goya as their inspiration.
Goya impressed King Charles III enough to be appointed as his painter. He was later made the court painter in 1793 by King Charles IV. During this period, he painted 'King Charles IV and His Family', one of his many brighter paintings before the period of his 'Black Paintings'.
Throughout his life, he painted on subjects ranging from peaceful to provocative, to stunningly haunting. Indeed, the Black Paintings, which Goya created on the walls of his house in his later years when he was deaf, tell us of his tryst with his own age, as well as his increasing disillusionment with the current political scene.

Leonardo da Vinci (15th April, 1452 - 2nd May, 1519)

Leonardo da Vinci was a truly talented artist of the Renaissance period. He was a true polymath, who created works of art unparalleled even to this day.
Despite the magnitude of his works, Leonardo da Vinci always tried to keep things simple. Of course, simplicity to a polymath is something far more complex to any common philosopher. Aside from painting, he conceptualized the ideas for a helicopter, a tank, and a calculator, among many other things.
He will always be considered as the archetypal Renaissance Man. He was one of the first men to effectively blur the line between science and art, creating a new realm for his successors to explore. Due to many reasons, only fifteen of his actual paintings survive till today.

Wassily Kandinsky (16th December, 1866 - 13th December, 1944)

Wassily Kandinsky was yet another master in the field of art. This highly talented painter was known for being the first artist to ever paint completely abstract works, using different styles and geometry.
Although a painter, he started his young life studying law and economics. When he started discovering his own talent for painting, he decided to move from his home country, Russia, to Munich, to study at the Academy of Fine Arts.
Kandinsky's works also show the influence of 'Pointillism', and his compositions had a highly complex arrangement of forms and lines that were unique in their own way. He was a pioneer in the field of symbolism of colors, and their effect of human psychology. Kandinsky had the uncanny ability to pull towards him those who wished to see more. The level of intricacies he could introduce in his art is still unparalleled.

Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (6th April or 28th March, 1483 - 6th April, 1520)

Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, more popularly known as Raphael, was an Italian artist who has a large repertoire of works that speak volumes about his talent. He was best known for retaining his own style while he imbibed influence from Florentine art.
Raphael was a part of the trinity of the great masters of the High Renaissance period, along with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. He largely covered three different styles of painting: Renaissance, Baroque (very rudimentary), and Mannerism.
Raphael was known to be an absorber of influences. He was amazing at creating his own impressions through the ways of older artists, including Leonardo da Vinci. He was in fact, known to spy on da Vinci while the latter was painting the Sistine chapel.

As the historian Giorgio Vasari wrote, "although Raphael was most famous for all his Madonna paintings, he was by principle, an atheist."

Henri Matisse (31st December, 1869 - 3rd November, 1954)

Henri Matisse was an exceptionally talented artist and was a prominent figure of modern art. Henri Matisse loved to use bright colors, and one can see in his paintings the use of flat shapes and very well-controlled lines.
Matisse and Picasso were often pitted as rivals in modern art, but it only helped both artists to create some of their best works. Matisse was considered to be exceptional at being a Fauvist, as well as a traditional painter. He had created and mastered a technique he called 'painting with scissors', which involved making large-scale works using paper collages. He mentioned many influences to his life and work, including artists William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Gustave Moreau, and John Peter Russell.

Michelangelo (6 March, 1475 - 18 February, 1564)

No matter how anyone, or even Michelangelo himself, saw his work (he often called himself a sculptor), he remains one of the greatest artists man has ever seen. His frescoes have created the kind of inimitable influence on Western art, that persuades one to think that maybe a greater force was involved in it. The exemplary amount of dedication that the man used to paint the Sistine Chapel has seldom been seen.
Michelangelo was often considered the closest contender to Leonardo da Vinci. This applied to many fields, even to the title of being called the archetypal polymath. Michelangelo was also a great poet; about 300 of his original poetic works still exist.

13-year-old Michelangelo's father was once outraged against his son's apprenticeship with Domenico Ghirlandaio; the tutor then paid the young artist a salary, which he gave to his father.

Frida Kahlo (6th July, 1907 - 13th July, 1954)

Very few people possess the kind of strength that Frida Kahlo did. She was stricken with polio at the age of 6, after which she had decided to become a doctor. When she was fifteen, she met with a horrific accident that ended any hope of her education in medicine.
Her parents gave everything they had to ensure that Frida received optimum care. She soon discovered her love for painting, especially for self-portraits. Her entire life was marred with epic tragedy and surreal dreams, although she denied any links to the Surrealist movement. She died in the same house that she was born in, in Mexico.
Her importance to Mexico was realized when she became the first Latin-American woman to ever sell a painting for more than a million American dollars. Although André Breton, a surrealist painter, was one of her biggest promoters, Frida often denied being a surrealist, saying, "I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality."

Andy Warhol (6th August, 1928 - 22 February, 1987)

The man who imbibed and delivered Pop Art, Andy Warhol , was one of the most commercially successful artists of the previous century. His skills lay in not just expressing the things around him in art, but also manipulating other people's views on the subject.
He is one of the biggest gay celebrity icons to have lived openly before the Gay Liberation movement. Throughout his childhood, he faced many problems, in both health and personal life. He later claimed his condition to be one of his biggest reasons for his love of art, movies, and movie stars. He is most famous for his silkscreen printing and lithography techniques that he used throughout his life.
Andy Warhol was once almost proclaimed dead when he was shot three times by Valerie Solanas, a feminist who thought his work was abusive and insulting to women.

Paul Cézanne (19th January, 1839 - 22nd October, 1906)

Paul Cézanne was a Post-Impressionist painter, considered to be the biggest influence on artists such as Matisse and Picasso. He played an important role in providing the base for the Cubist Movement.
He instinctively broke many shackles that unintentionally bound the rules of modern art, thus freeing many of his successors from them. He was remarked to be the father of Post-Impressionism, as an inspiration to both Matisse and Picasso.
The invention of modern expressionism came out of a phase of Cézanne, who then painted with nothing but a palette knife. He became an influence to the likes of Pablo Picasso, and in effect, not only founded Impressionism, but also laid the building blocks of modern art.

Giotto di Bondone (1266/1267 - 8th January, 1337)

Giotto was considered the first 'real' painter who emerged after the years of Byzantine art. He is the first painter who is believed to have accurately used the qualities of human emotion in his work.

His life was very uncertain and vague. Not much was known about the way he looked, his influences, his successors and apprentices, everything that he created, or even his date of birth.
Indeed, the only way to somewhat ascertain his birth date is through a poem that mentions he was 70 years old at the time of his death. Skepticism met science when forensic scientists dug up the bones of a 4-feet-tall man and linked them to Giotto, concluding that he suffered from dwarfism.

Claude Monet (14th November, 1840 - 5th December, 1926)

Monet mostly stuck to nature as his subject, including people in his paintings every now and then. His successors in the 20th century had a lot to learn from his technique, his eye for detail, and insatiable perfectionism.
He was a true rebel in his heart, and often rejected traditional ideas and teachings, trying to find his own way around in the art world. He would often draw caricatures of his friends and teachers at school, and rejected the idea of working in his family's grocery business.
Monet is the founder of Impressionism. In fact the word itself is derived from a painting of his - 'Impression', 'Sunrise'. He was also a master of the way of 'En plein air', which is open air landscape painting.

Many of Monet's female paintings include the same woman, Camille Doncieux. She was more than just a muse for him, as they fell in love and she gave birth to Monet's first two children.

Gustave Courbet (10th June, 1819 - 31st December, 1877)

Courbet is one of the biggest names in the Realist movement. He struggled throughout his life as a young man to find his direction in art. He tried everything and stuck to nothing. In the end, he became the most famous Realist, although he has been quoted to like not being tied to any particular form of art.
Courbet refused to learn at any of the famed art schools. His main source of artistic education was to copy paintings at the Louvre. Being a self-taught artist, he was often looked down on by other accepted artists of his time. His story says a lot about his yearning to create something that was completely free of all social oppression and traditionalist schools of thought. He was admired by many famous artists over the coming years, including Paul Cézanne and Claude Monet.
Gustave was quoted as a 50-year-old: "When I am dead let this be said of me: He belonged to no school, to no church, to no institution, to no academy, least of all to any régime except the régime of liberty."

Salvador Dali (11th May, 1904 - 23rd January, 1989)

When someone gets kicked out of the Surrealist Group by André Breton and yells out "I myself am Surrealism", one could come to two conclusions: either the man somehow speaks the truth, or he is completely bonkers.
Dali was probably a mixture of both, truth and abnormality. He became the highlight of Surrealism, with his works being some of the most sought-after pieces in their category. His works have evoked just about every form of extreme emotion, from overwhelming praise to utter revulsion.
Dali often cited his own ability of painting bizarre images that he claimed to have dreamed of. He called them 'Hand Painted Dream Photographs'. The many traits of Dali included his intense fear of grasshoppers, his awkwardness with being barefoot, and a lifelong hobby of proving that he was both genius and insane.
These famous painters had a unique style which reflected in their works of art. Their works still continue to inspire millions who wish to follow their footsteps.