Salvador Dalí (1904–89) was the most complex and possibly the most controversial artist of the twentieth century. Although his popularity with the public at large has never been in question, the attitude of the art world towards this giant of twentieth-century art has often been much more ambivalent. Reasons for this apparent mismatch between public and academic reactions to Dalí’s work can be traced to the artist’s life and the huge body of work that his prodigious creativity and boundless energy produced.
Visual & Decorative Arts Blog
The American artist Edward Hopper (1882–1967) was a popular portrayer of atmospheric modern life, from his depictions of the isolated and pensive figures in the city to the quiet intensity and melancholy of his houses and seascapes.
Gustav Klimt (1862–1918) is renowned as a quintessential artist of the Art Nouveau movement, but he was one of a number of Viennese artists who strove to break free of the constraints of the late 19th century academic art establishment.
A French painter and graphic artist, Edgar Degas (1834–1917) was one of the leading members of the Impressionist circle.
Few would dispute Pablo Picasso’s (1881–1973) reputation as one of the pre-eminent artists of the twentieth century. Indeed, the thousands of drawings, paintings, prints, sculptures and ceramics that remain to us are a testament to the sheer scope of his visual imagination and his capacity for artistic innovation – so much so that it seems almost inconceivable that this could be the product of a single individual and a single lifetime.
Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) is an elusive figure who hovers on the peripherals of his paintings and sketches. He was hugely prolific during his life, and apart from his exhibition oils and watercolours, has left a legacy of sketchbooks and drawings done during his extensive travelling. His work leaves us with volumes of information about his painting, his techniques and his influences, but little about his essential being.
A pioneer of abstract art, Wassily Kandinsky (1866–1944) is still renowned for his woodcuts, paintings and heading of the Blue Rider group which included Franz Marc (1880–1916), August Macke (1887–26) and Paul Klee – all Expressionist yet very distinct from each other in terms of technique. Kandinsky's style went through many changes, ranging from the fast brush work and striking colours of Fauvism to the horizontal lines and plain colours of Neoplasticism. It is perhaps because of this changeability that his work is still loved by many today.
Vincent Van Gogh – the man, the legend and the artist – has become all but lost in propagated myths and romantic visions. He is perceived as the ‘mad artist’, the man who painted in a frenzy, the tormented soul, the artist who cut off his ear – all partially true – but factors that have nonetheless suffocated the actuality of an intelligent and reasoned man.
Claude Monet (1840–1926) transformed French painting in the late nineteenth century. The term 'Impressionism' was taken from his painting Impression Sunrise (1872), which was exhibited in 1874, in the first of Monet's independent exhibitions that would give rise to the Impressionism movement. Throughout his long and successful career Monet became a master of colour and light; exploring the countryside, painting en plein air and capturing landscapes of Paris and Normandy and the beautiful water lilies and flowers in his own garden at Giverny.
Pop Art first emerged in the mid-1950s in both America and Britain. It was in part a reaction against the emotional seriousness and introspection of Abstract Expressionism, which had been affected by the experience of the Second World War. The term ‘Pop Art’ was coined in 1954 by the British-born critic and curator Lawrence Alloway (1926–90) to describe the ‘popular art’ and imagery produced by a mass culture that ‘high’ art had begun to pick up and use: flags, jukeboxes, badges, advertising logos, comic strips and magazines. After the intensity of Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art favoured irony and impersonal techniques in the creation of art works, as well as a return to figurative painting.