Known as one of the founding fathers of impressionism, Claude Monet’s paintings were distinctly different from other artists of his time. While most other paintings focused on the subject, Monet’s works often cropped the subject to focus on a particular façade or feature. He created a luminous effect in his paintings by using separate short strokes. His chance meeting with Pierre-Auguste Renoir led to the first impressionist exhibition that encouraged painters to break away from the mould. Despite a double cataract, Monet never gave up painting, until 1926, when he died of lung cancer.
Paintings
Fast Facts
Era 1840 – 1930
Style Impressionist
Key Works Rouen Cathedral series, London Parliament series, Water Lilies, Haystacks
Highest Selling Painting Le Bassin aux Nymphéas, $80.5 million at Christie's, London
Fast Facts
Era 1830 – 1920
Style Impressionist
Key Works The Bellelli Family, Woman with Chrysanthemums, Chanteuse de Café, At the Milliner's
Highest Selling Painting Danseuse au repos, $28 million at Sotheby's, London
Considered one of the founders of impressionism, Edgar Degas was well known for his sculptures, drawings, and prints. Most of his works depicted movements and often explored the subject of dance. Despite failing eyesight, in 1886, he painted one of his most popular nude series depicting women bathing, drying, and combing themselves. His final exhibition was in 1892, and spent the rest of his life nearly blind and restless, before dying in 1917.
Paintings
Starting out as an impressionist painter, Paul Gauguin later on branched out to explore the experimental use of color and the synthetist style. Gauguin’s friendship with Van Gogh was one with several highs and lows, until the infamous ear-maiming incident. With mounting financial pressure, trauma due to his daughter’s death, and audience hostility, Gauguin even tried to commit suicide. Gauguin was underappreciated, until after his death when he was venerated to one of the greatest figures in the post-impressionist era.
Paintings
Fast Facts
Era 1840 – 1910
Style Post-impressionist, synthetist
Key Works Two Tahitian Women, The Painter of Sunflowers, Vision After the Sermon, The Yellow Christ
Highest Selling Painting When Will You Marry?, $300 million, private sale
Fast Facts
Era 1850 – 1890
Style Post-impressionist
Key Works Starry Night, Sunflowers, Bedroom in Arles, The Potato Eaters
Highest Selling Painting Portrait of Dr. Gachet, $82.5 million, Christie's, New York
The most famous figure in post-impressionism, Vincent van Gogh managed to sell only one painting during his life and after his death became the most famous artist there has ever been. In 1885, Van Gogh moved to Paris and met Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin, and Seurat, from whom he drew inspiration. He introduced serial imagery in his paintings and painted multiple self-portraits. A year after he cut off his own ears, in a bout of panic, Van Gogh checked into a mental facility. In 1890, he shot himself after suffering from long, traumatic periods of depression and hallucinations.
Paintings
A neo-impressionist, Paul Signac along with Georges Seurat was instrumental in developing the pointillist style. Pointillism is a technique in which small dots of color are applied in patterns to form an image. In 1886, Signac and Saurat displayed their works at the Impressionist Exhibition in Paris. Signac became the president of the Societe des Artistes Independants and was also awarded the National Order of the Legion of Honour. Paul Signac died from septicemia in 1935.
Paintings
Fast Facts
Era 1860 – 1940
Style Pointillist
Key Works In the Time of Harmony, Femmes au puits, Port St. Tropez, The Papal Palace
Fast Facts
Era 1840 – 1910
Style Post-impressionist, primitivism
Key Works The Sleeping Gypsy, Tiger in a Tropical Storm, The Hungry Lion Throws Itself on the Antelope, Boy on the Rocks
A self-taught artist, Henri Rousseau was the founder of primitivism. This style of art borrows visual forms from non-Western or prehistoric people. Despite spending his early years in the army, Rousseau studied art in the 1880s. He presented his paintings at the Independent Artists’ Salon and was also awarded the honorary diploma of the Academy of Fine Arts for his Clemence waltz. He composed the ‘Visit to the Universal Exhibition’ vaudeville and the ‘Russian Orphan’s Revenge drama. After retiring from the army, he dedicated his life to art, until his death in 1910 due to gangrene.
Paintings
The author of the famous Moulin Rouge posters, Toulouse-Lautrec gained world acknowledgement only after death. After an accident rendered him disabled, Toulouse-Lautrec dedicated his life to art. In 1889, he started exhibiting his paintings at the Independent Artists’ Salon. His work was described as dispassionate, with highly individualized figures emphasized with long, thin brushstrokes. He also ran his personal exhibition at the branch of the Goupil gallery. Paralyzed, he died in 1901.
Paintings
Fast Facts
Era 1860 – 1910
Style Post-impressionist, art nouveau
Key Works At the Moulin Rouge, Bouquet of Violets in a Vase, Portrait of Vincent van Gogh, Equestrienne
Highest Selling Painting The Laundress, $22.4 million, Christie's, New York
Fast Facts
Era 1880 – 1920
Style Expressionist
Key Works Redheaded Girl in Evening Dress, Madame Pompadour, Jeanne Hébuterne in Red Shawl
Highest Selling Painting Nu Couché, $170.4 million, Christie's, New York
One of the central participants of the Ecole de Paris, Amedeo Modigliani modernized portraits and nudes. Like most other painters, he saw little success when he was alive, but reached great popularity after death. His portraits were distinctly characterized by elongated faces and figures, and other modern elements. Modigliani often worked furiously, making more than a hundred drawings a day. However, several of his works were lost, some of them destroyed by Modigliani himself on account of mediocrity.
Paintings
Considered one of the greatest decorative painters of the 20th century, Gustav Klimt was a pioneer of the art nouveau. In 1894, Klimt created three paintings to decorate the ceiling of the Great Hall of the University of Vienna. The paintings were criticized as pornographic, and he accepted no more public commissions. A couple of years later, Klimt became one of the founders and President of the Vienna Secession that played a major role in the development of modern style. He spoke very little of his style and was extremely choosy about patrons who wanted their portraits.
Paintings
Fast Facts
Era 1850 – 1920
Style Symbolism, art nouveau
Key Works The Blind Man, Eugenia Primavesi, The Kiss, Danaë
Highest Selling Painting Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, $135 million, Christie's, New York
Fast Facts
Era 1860 – 1950
Style Expressionist, abstract art
Key Works On White II, Der Blaue Reiter, Composition IX, Points
Highest Selling Painting Studie für Improvisation 8, $23 million, Christie's, New York
Art theoretician, poet, abstract art pioneer: Wassily Kandinsky was considered the leader of the avant-garde art. In 1895, he discovered Monet’s paintings and decided to leave a career in law and become an artist. Kandinsky’s love for colors continued through time, and published a treatise called ‘On the Spiritual in Art’. He also analyzed the geometric elements in every painting and studied their effects on the observer. He moved to France in 1933 and produced some of his most prominent art after that.
Paintings
Popularly known as the pioneer of suprematism, Kazimir Malevich, was an artist and philosopher. Suprematists focus on basic geometric forms painted in a limited range of colors. The name suprematism was coined by Malevich because he believed art should transcend the subject, and color/shape should reign supreme. One of the most popular paintings of Malevich in this genre is the Black Square. This painting was so iconic that all the banners waved by mourners at his funeral rally had the Black Square.
Paintings
Fast Facts
Era 1870 – 1940
Style Suprematist
Key Works White On White, The Reaper, Airplane Flying, Woman With Pails
Highest Selling Painting Suprematist Composition, $60 million, Sotheby's, New York