Top 10 Artists of All Time

Written by: Editorial Staff

May 20, 2011
Filed Under Art 


One of the top ten artists of all timeContributed by Cassie O’Shea, Top 10 Guru

So here we are in 2011, with thousands of years of human artistic expression under our collective belts, and what do we have to show for it?

Who are the most inspiring, influential, successful, and important artistic figures to date? Since art ranges from music to writing to painting to sculpture and back again, flowing through many other genres along the way, where does one even start?

Painting has been one of the most pivotal and highly visible art forms since the cave drawings of our primitive ancestors. Thus, it makes sense to focus on these top artists of all time.

10. Paul Cézanne

One of the top ten artists of all time

Born in 1839, this talented French painter became a leader of the Postimpressionist movement and inspired generations of famous artists and movements, including Cubism. Like many artists on this list, his genius was not recognized during his lifetime, especially since he went against established methods. Some call him the father of modern painting.

9. Jackson Pollock

One of the top ten artists of all time

Commonly recognized as one of the greatest American artists of all time, Pollock was born in 1912. He was one of the most visible, and controversial members of the Abstract Expressionist movement. Pollock is mainly known for his inventive “drip and splash” style by which he dropped paint onto the canvas on the floor, eschewing traditional brushes and tools. In 2006, Pollock’s painting entitled “No. 5” achieved the highest price for a painting in history when it sold to an unidentified buyer for the whopping amount of $140,000,000.

8. Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn

One of the top ten artists of all time

Rembrandt, who was born in 1606 in Holland, was not only a painter, but also a draftsman, printmaker, and talented etcher. Consistently ranked as one of the most important artists in European history, he is also one of the most famous Dutch painters. Known mainly for his intrepid mixing of light and dark, or chiaroscuro, Rembrandt achieved remarkable depth of color and emotion in his works.

7. Gustav Klimt

One of the top ten artists of all time

Klimt, an Austrian painter born in 1862, founded the Vienna Secession School of painting. His work combined luminous colors, intricate details, strong erotic energy, and a keen focus on aesthetics that mirrored the intellectual life in Vienna at that time. As a progenitor of Art Nouveau, Klimt blossomed from an illustrator and decorator to a creator of elegant masterpieces fetching some of the highest recorded prices for paintings.
His portrait, “Adele Bloch-Bauer I,” sold for $135,000,000 in 2006.

6. Pierre-Auguste Renoir

One of the top ten artists of all time

Renoir, born in France in 1841, was one of the foremost figures in the Impressionist movement. He focused on beauty, especially of the female form, and filled his works with vivid colors, light, and joy. He was a close friend of Monet, another artist on this list.

5. Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni

One of the top ten artists of all time

Born in 1475, this Italian artist is perhaps the most versatile genius on this list. Achieving fame as a painter, sculptor, poet, engineer, designer, and architect, Michelangelo truly embodies the Renaissance man. In addition to the momentous sculptures of David and the Pietá, his frescos in the Sistine Chapel are among the most significant and highly regarded works of art in history.

4. Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci

One of the top ten artists of all time

A contemporary of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci was also a jack-of-all-trades. In addition to nearly every artform, he mastered music, science, math, anatomy, geology, cartography, botany, and literature. Many consider him to be not only the greatest painter of all time, but also one of the most variably talented individuals in history. He created two of the most recognizable paintings in the world, the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper.

3. Claude Monet

One of the top ten artists of all time

Monet, born in Paris in 1840, was a champion of the Impressionist school of painting. In fact, the name ‘Impressionism’ came from one of his paintings. He never wavered from its ideals of interpreting nature with individual expression and was incredibly prolific and successful during his lifetime.

2. Vincent Van Gogh

One of the top ten artists of all time

Unfortunately known for his madness as much as his genius, Van Gogh was born in 1853. A leading figure in the Post-Impressionist movement, this Dutch painter created pieces that used stunning colors, thick and expressive brushstrokes, and highly contoured images to convey more emotion and energy in his work. He painted hundreds of pieces throughout his life, but sold only one, and was virtually unknown when he committed suicide in 1890. Van Gogh paved the way for Expressionism and the emotional liberty of 20th century and Modern art. Today, his paintings are among the most famous and expensive works of art in existence.

1. Pablo Picasso

One of the top ten artists of all time

The single most recognized named in art today is Pablo Picasso. Born in Spain in 1881, Picasso co-founded the Cubist movement and was the catalyst for an incredible number of different styles and schools of art. Unlike Van Gogh, Picasso was very successful during a very long lifetime and died as a major influencer and collector in the art world. Many of his paintings are listed as some of the priciest pieces in the world. In May of 2010, Christie’s set an auction record with the $106,500,000 sale of “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust.”

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One Response to “Top 10 Artists of All Time”

  1. oguz on September 22nd, 2011 5:31 pm

    To put Picasso above Michelangelo and Da Vinci is just plain disrespectful.