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Influential Artists of twentieth century

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20th century art began with an exciting battle between the general assumption of art and artist’s urge for a change. The conflict was ignited by a post impressionistic painting of a mountain by Paul Cezanne in his unique geometrical approach. Cézannes unique approach to his paintings gave a way to maturing artists of that time to a new development in art that would satisfy the meaning of art for them. Artists deliberately broke away from established tradition and totally changed the way we comprehend the arts forever.  Twentieth century artists consciously changed the visual perception of subjects and created a new dimension for artists to follow. Artists were despondent with preceding definition of art and with overwhelming curiosity they overrode the academic perception of art with that of a new beginning that would further expand the spectrum of art.

During the end of nineteenth century there was certain uneasiness in artists, and there were many artists who wanted to breakup from pre-established norms. The works of Paul Cezanne gave such artists like Picasso courage to take a leap into new dimension of art.  And when artists realized that the shackles of predominant traditions have been broken they stormed the art world with unprecedented ideas and perspectives. There were many artists who changed the course of art in twentieth century and their contribution in developing a new definition for art is immense.  It was because of such artists that we witnessed the vibrancy of Expressionism and Fauvism, the geometrical approach of Cubism, excitement of Action Painting, complexity of Dadaism and simplicity of Minimalism. There are a number of art movements that developed during twentieth century and each movement provided revolutionary innovations to suffice the development of art. Here we recall some of the influential artists of twentieth century:

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso is one of the pioneers of modernism. He was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist and theatre designer who spent most of his adult life in France. He along with Georges Braque shaped one of the most influential movements of art and that is ‘Cubism’. Cubism changed the entire perception of how one should look and represent a simplest subject so as to create a compelling experience. He introduced multiple points of view and various interpretations of a single subject. Picasso was inspired by Post Impressionist artist Paul Cezanne who was the first to introduce geometrical approach to a landscape painting.  Picasso had a great impact on the art movements that followed especially Surrealism.

Kazimir Malevich

Born in1879 Kazimir Malevich was a Russian artist whose radical approach to his artwork separated him from his contemporaries. He  started his life as an artist painting Russian landscapes, farming and religious scenes.

He invented a style of art called suprematism, a visual language of simple shapes and colours. He used squares, circles and rectangles and only used a few colours to make his artwork. Suprematism was about seeing and feeling art in a new way. Just because he used a few colours and shapes, it doesn’t mean his art is impersonal or cold. The traces of the artist’s brush strokes are visible in the paint and the slight changes of colour on the canvas. For Kazimir Malevich, painting had to be free of social or political content, pure aesthetic, focused solely on its own form, line, shape and color, looking to evoke that ultimate subliminal feeling in its viewer. In 1912, he proclaimed himself a “Cubo-Futurist” artist, under the influence of the two movements at their peak at the time. Eventually, however, he returned to representational painting, although his Suprematism still left a deep mark on the future of art both in the Soviet Union and beyond.

Frida Kahlo

Born in 1907 in Mexico City, Frida Kahlo’s legendary life was marked by drama, trauma, and tragedy. Kahlo, who suffered from polio as a child, nearly died in a bus accident as a teenager. She suffered multiple fractures of her spine, collarbone and ribs, a shattered pelvis, broken foot and a dislocated shoulder. She began to focus heavily on painting while recovering in a body cast. In her lifetime, she had 30 operations. She was emotionally hurt by her troubled relationship with her husband Diego Rivera. She is remembered for her self-portraits, pain and passion, and bold, vibrant colors. She is one of the few women artists who challenged the male dominant art world with her influential and inventive approach.  She employed a naïve folk art style to explore questions of identity, post-colonialism, gender, class, and race in Mexican society. often remembered as a Surrealist, Kahlo herself rejected that term, disliking the misogyny found in the Surrealist circles and in their Freudian, male-centric depictions of women. Instead, through her work, Kahlo revealed the complexity of female experience and asserted the validity of her own unique vision.

 Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock is one of the most famous American painters. Pioneer of Abstract Expressionism, he was more like a performer. He dripped and smeared his paint onto the laying canvas through a series of movements and gestures, thus giving life to Action Painting. His artworks ooze with drama, tension and energy, rejecting all the traditional techniques. Inspired by the Mexican Muralism and Surrealist automatism, he gained a huge reputation as an energetic and innovative artist of the century. His style of painting opened new ways for future artists and shattered all restrictions posed by any tradition in art. He had an amazing  artistic career that was interrupted by his untimely death in a car accident at the age of 44, although his legacy and impact can only be described as everlasting.

Louise Bourgeois

Born in Paris in 1911, Bourgeois was a French-American artist. She is best known for her large-scale sculpture and installation art. Her work only came to prominence in her later years with powerful and highly evocative pieces such as Destruction of the Father and a nine-meter-high bronze sculpture of a spider. Bourgeois’ works are deeply personal, drawing from childhood trauma and depicting themes of the subconscious, sexuality, and repressed emotion. Bourgeois translated these themes into often macabre, formidable visual symbols; her spiders, which she is perhaps best known for, are both predatory and protective. Her manipulations of the body recall ideas of sexuality and feminine pain. Through her work, Bourgeois revolutionized both feminist and installation art.

Bourgeois died in New York in 2010, at the age of 98.

Salvador Dali

Born in Spain in 1904 Salvador Dali is surely one of the most famous painters whose artworks never seize to amaze and intrigue. As an art student in Madrid and Barcelona, he leaned various art styles and had a exceptionally good hold on drawing.  The style of painting for which he earned his name did not come until late 1920s, when he discovered Sigmund Freud’s writings on the erotic significance of subconscious imagery. During that time he also  got associated with  ‘Paris Surrealists’, a group of artists and writers who sought to establish the “greater reality” of the human subconscious over reason. To bring up images from his subconscious mind, Dalí began to induce hallucinatory states in himself by a process he described as “paranoiac critical.”

From 1929 to 1937 he produced the paintings which made him the world’s best-known Surrealist artist. He depicted a dream world in which commonplace objects are juxtaposed, deformed, or otherwise metamorphosed in a bizarre and irrational fashion. Dalí portrayed those objects in meticulous, almost painfully realistic detail and usually placed them within bleak sunlit landscapes that were reminiscent of his Catalonian homeland. Perhaps the most famous of those enigmatic images is The Persistence of Memory, in which limps melting watches rest in an eerily calm landscape.

Ai Weiwei

Artist and Artwork

A renowned figure in contemporary art world, Ai Weiwei is a filmmaker, activist, curator and an artist who is active in his criticism of the Chinese government. Son of a Chinese poet Ai Qing, Ai was born in Beijing in 1957. When he was a year old his family was sent into labour camp in Beidahuang, Heilongjiang and was subsequently exiled to Shihezi, Xinjiang in 1961, where they lived for 16 years. Upon Mao Zedong’s death and the end of the Cultural Revolution, the family returned to Beijing in 1976.

Ai, famous for his rebellious ideas has faced tough response from the government. He was detained for months in 2011, then released to house arrest.  In an interview he had said “I don’t see myself as a dissident artist,” he says. “I see them as a dissident government!” Some of Ai’s best known works are installations, often tending towards the conceptual and sparking dialogue between the contemporary world and traditional Chinese modes of thought and production.

Here are some of his works:

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