Famous Artists of the 20th Century

Instructor: Summer Stewart

Summer has taught creative writing and sciences at the college level. She holds an MFA in Creative writing and a B.A.S. in English and Nutrition

The twentieth century experienced many changes, including a burst of artistic movements that contributed to art in a startling fashion. In this lesson, we will look at famous artists of the 20th century, as well as the movements they were members of.

The twentieth century experienced a series of important art movements, including cubism, abstract expressionism, and impressionism. Artists, such as Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, and Claude Monet, significantly contributed to the art world through the innovation of art styles and techniques that would forever change the face of art. In this lesson, we will examine each of these famous artists of the twentieth century to learn about their styles and contributions to art.

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso Portrait
Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso was born in Spain in 1881 and rose to fame by the time he was fifty years old. He is considered one of the most famous artists of the twentieth century and spent most of his career living in France. Prior to his death in 1973, Picasso had amassed over 20,000 paintings, drawings, and other art objects.

Picasso is known for starting Cubism. Cubism is an artistic style in which the subject of a painting or drawing is broken up into fragments and then abstractly rearranged. Cubism was one of Picasso's many styles. Picasso was also influenced by surrealism and classicism. His work has been broken into many periods of his life, including the Blue Period, which occurred between 1901-1904.

Girl with a Mandolin by Pablo Picasso
Picasso Painting

Picasso's Girl with Mandolin is a well-recognized cubist painting of a woman holding a mandolin. The painting was completed in 1910 and was done in muted beige tones. The painting is a remarkable combination of realism and cubist technique.

Jackson Pollock

Pollock Painting at the MOMA

Jackson Pollock was an American painter behind the abstract expressionist movement. Pollock is credited for developing a style that detached color from line and redefining what it means to occupy a canvas. Pollock was influenced by Native American art, Surrealism, and European Modernism.

Pollock is best known for his 'drip' and 'action' paintings that he began in the 1940s. Pollock threw, drip, and splashed paint onto the canvas; many agree that this style of painting evoked the relationship between man and nature. Convergence (1952) and Mural (1943) are just a few of the hundreds of paintings Pollock produced in his lifetime. Moreover, Pollock's artwork doesn't have a focal point or identifiable form. As his style progressed, Pollock became a beacon for young artists who had a passion to create beyond the rigid lines of previous art tradition.

Lavender Mist
Lavender Mist

One of Pollock's best-known paintings is Lavender Mist, which was painted in 1950 after Pollock began experimenting with the process of allowing paint to pour onto unprimed canvases tacked to the floor. Lavender Mist shows his technique, which involved using wooden sticks and hardened brushes to move the paint across the canvas. He layered the paint until webs of different colors formed.

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