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The Most Important Painters in The World

Although this list stems from a deep study of the painters, their contribution to Western painting, and their influence on later artists; we are aware that objectivity does not exist in Art, so we understand that most readers will not agree 100% with this list. In any case, theartwolf.com assures that this list is only intended as a tribute to painting and the painters who have made it an unforgettable Art

1. PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973) – Picasso is to Art History a giant earthquake with eternal aftermaths. With the possible exception of Michelangelo (who focused his greatest efforts in sculpture and architecture), no other artist had such ambitions at the time of placing his oeuvre in the history of art. Picasso created the avant-garde. Picasso destroyed the avant-garde. He looked back at the masters and surpassed them all. He faced the whole history of art and single-handedly redefined the tortuous relationship between work and spectator

2. GIOTTO DI BONDONE (c.1267-1337) – It has been said that Giotto was the first real painter, like Adam was the first man. We agree with the first part. Giotto continued the Byzantine style of Cimabue and other predecessors, but he earned the right to be included in gold letters in the history of painting when he added a quality unknown to date: emotion

3. LEONARDO DA VINCI (1452-1519) – For better or for worse, Leonardo will be forever known as the author of the most famous painting of all time, the “Gioconda” or “Mona Lisa”. But he is more, much more. His humanist, almost scientific gaze, entered the art of the quattrocento and revoluted it with his sfumetto that nobody was ever able to imitate

4. PAUL CÉZANNE (1839-1906) – “Cezanne is the father of us all.” This famous quote has been attributed to both Picasso and Matisse, and certainly it does not matter who actually said it, because in either case would be appropriate. While he exhibited with the Impressionist painters, Cézanne left behind the whole group and developed a style of painting never seen so far, which opened the door for the arrival of Cubism and the rest of the vanguards of the twentieth century

5. REMBRANDT VAN RIJN (1606-1669) – The fascinating use of the light and shadows in Rembrandt’s works seem to reflect his own life, moving from fame to oblivion. Rembrandt is the great master of Dutch painting, and, along with Velázquez, the main figure of 17th century European Painting. He is, in addition, the great master of the self-portrait of all time, an artist who had never show mercy at the time of depicting himself

6. DIEGO VELÁZQUEZ (1599-1660) – Along with Rembrandt, one of the summits of Baroque painting. But unlike the Dutch artist, the Sevillan painter spent most of his life in the comfortable but rigid courtesan society. Nevertheless, Velázquez was an innovator, a “painter of atmospheres” two centuries before Turner and the Impressionists, which it is shown in his colossal ‘royal paintings’ (“Meninas”, “The Forge of Vulcan”), but also in his small and memorable sketches of the Villa Medici.

7. WASSILY KANDINSKY (1866-1944) – Although the title of “father of abstraction” has been assigned to several artists, from Picasso to Turner, few painters could claim it with as much justice as Kandinsky. Many artists have succeeded in painting emotion, but very few have changed the way we understand art. Wassily Kandinsky is one of them.

8. CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926) – The importance of Monet in the history of art is sometimes “underrated”, as Art lovers tend to see only the overwhelming beauty that emanates from his canvases, ignoring the complex technique and composition of the work (a “defect” somehow caused by Monet himself, when he declared that “I do not understand why everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love”). However, Monet’s experiments, including studies on the changes in an object caused by daylight at different times of the day; and the almost abstract quality of his “water lilies”, are clearly a prologue to the art of the twentieth century.

9. CARAVAGGIO (1571-1610) – The tough and violent Caravaggio is considered the father of Baroque painting, with his spectacular use of lights and shadows. Caravaggio’s chiaroscuro became so famous that many painters started to copy his paintings, creating the ‘Caravaggisti’ style.

10. JOSEPH MALLORD WILLIAM TURNER (1775-1851) – Turner is the best landscape painter of Western painting. Whereas he had been at his beginnings an academic painter, Turner was slowly but unstoppably evolving towards a free, atmospheric style, sometimes even outlining the abstraction, which was misunderstood and rejected by the same critics who had admired him for decades

11. JAN VAN EYCK (1390-1441) – Van Eyck is the colossal pillar on which rests the whole Flemish paintings from later centuries, the genius of accuracy, thoroughness and perspective, well above any other artist of his time, either Flemish or Italian.

12. ALBRECHT DÜRER (1471-1528) – The real Leonardo da Vinci of Northern European Rennaisance was Albrecht Dürer, a restless and innovative genious, master of drawing and color. He is one of the first artists to represent nature without artifice, either in his painted landscapes or in his drawings of plants and animals

13. JACKSON POLLOCK (1912-1956) – The major figure of American Abstract Expressionism, Pollock created his best works, his famous drips, between 1947 and 1950. After those fascinating years, comparable to Picasso’s blue period or van Gogh’s final months in Auvers, he abandoned the drip, and his latest works are often bold, unexciting works.