If I were to ask you who is, in your opinion the most famous artists of all time, you will most probably (of course this is arguable) give me a subjective opinion. That is the beauty of art. An exciting, thought-provoking artist could be a boring and ordinary visionary to another. Subjectivity in a person's value of art elevates the discipline to a level only few other passions can aspire to. This was my challenge when I sat down to write a list of the 10 most famous artists of all time. Fame in the world of art can be measured by the number of mentions and prominence given in museums and textbooks around the world and across time, but at the end of the day, it is the masterpiece that they have produced that carries the artist name beyond their generation and into eternity.
Ever since my early schooling days, there has been one picture I have seen more than any other. Whether it is on someone's wall, on a billboard, on a website or on TV. That is the Mona Lisa. I am certain this art is a global phenomenon, as its mention is not limited to a country or region or language. Smile or no-smile, it's creator, Leonardo Da Vinci succeeded in teasing the intellect of many critics and as a result concreted his name in all history books past, present and future. Although, many say Da Vinci's Last Supper trumps the iconic lady as the most reproduced religious painting of all time, many who have seen the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel will beg to differ. The world-famous fresco that is hoisted above the eye is celebrated as one the of the most cherished spiritual masterpieces in the world. Needless to say, its creator Michelangelo is the second on our elite list.
Ever saw a disfigured painting? Our next artist to claim eternal fame is someone who revolutionized the faculty and the way we digest art by creating such masterpieces. Pablo Picasso is arguably the most influential artist of the 20th Century. His creations Les Demoiselles d'Avignon and Guernica often resemble disfigured and dis-membered figures that tell a deeper story that is embedded in time. Picasso's creativity is only matched by his genius of thought and skill. The ability to provoke the mind is often seen in nature. Given that fact, it is no surprise that our next artist to make the list Oscar-Claude Monet is an expert impressionist in the philosophy of expressing one's perceptions before nature. A collection of the world best landscape paintings will not be complete without a Monet. It is no surprise that his paintings are always on the list of the most highly valued masterpieces on earth. Perhaps the only artist in the world who by virtue of his ability with the brush has coined a phrase in the English language. The term "Impressionism" is derived from the title of his most famous painting Impression (Impression, Sunrise).
An equally brilliant impressionist was Vincent van Gogh, who was made famous by way of his self-portrait and his sad life story that captured many hearts even to the extent that the songs were composed to narrate his personal challenges. Amongst his most famous paintings is The Starry Night which has profound impact on the observer who understands its context, content, and the motivation behind it. Our sixth in the list is still living (thankfully). She is widely attributed the title 'most famous living female artist in the world', so there is no doubt she makes the list. Japanese contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama is often characterized by her polka dots, bold color palettes, and organic form type style, which makes her collections such as Pumpkin Art unique and very interesting to view. Other than having a very cool and long name Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (famously known as Rembrandt) is widely known as the 'Old Master' of art. A title given to Europe's most prolific pre-19th century painter whose life-size painting of Captain Banninck Cocq and seventeen members of his civic militia guards known as The Night Watch is a testimony to his skill in balancing light and shadow and sketching movement.
The master of diversity Salvador Dalí books his place in the elite list by virtue of the variety of roles he played in the world of arts. Sculpture, printmaking, fashion, writing, and even filmmaking, has brought about a type of fame that others can only aspire to, when considering his versatility and multi-faceted skills. Dali's ability to reproduce on canvas his own dreams and hallucinations have resulted in masterpieces of modern art such as The Persistence of Memory. Speaking of modern art, the subject will not be complete without mention of someone who many consider to be the father of modern art. The French artist Henri Matisse revolutionized the world of art way back in 1904 when he led the Fauvism movement that encouraged the use of bright colors and expressive brushstrokes over realism. Exquisite works of art such as Woman with a Hat and The Dance exhibited his visionary talents and proved the beauty in the artistic strategies he formulated.
Last but by no means the least in our list is the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, who many consider to be the most famous female painter of all time. Kahlo drew her inspiration from her ancestry and heritage, but often mirrored her personal struggles through her creations. Her unique and compelling self-portraits that mostly discuss identity and suffering such as The Two Fridas, have created a legacy that continues to make an impact in the world of art to this date.
This ends the list of artists who in my opinion would be considered to be the most famous artists of all time. The fact that the list is limited to just 10, does not implicate that the aforementioned title is limited to the above. The full list is way beyond just 10 as our world has been and continues to be diversely impacted by many great artists who in themselves are a gift to humanity.
Arun Perera (Aartzy)