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Know your artists

Art is important because it captures important stories and emotions that would otherwise have been lost. Here we bring to you five artists whose works transcend time.

Know your artists

Leonardo Da Vinci (1452 – 1519)

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Leonardo da Vinci is probably the most important Renaissance artist. He painted the iconic Mona Lisa which now hangs permanently in the Louvre Museum in Paris. It’s protected behind a bulletproof glass. It’s an oil painting with a cottonwood panel as the surface. It’s believed this choice of medium is the reason why the Mona Lisa has survived for more than six centuries without ever having been restored. Apart from the sitter’s mysterious smile, the fact that there are no visible brush marks on the painting makes it even more intriguing. 

His other famous masterpieces are The Last Supper and The Lady with an Ermine. The Last Supper is the most reproduced religious painting of all time. da Vinci was also a scientist and inventor and he made many drawings of the human body. He had an insatiable curiosity about the natural world. He made many scientific observations and sketches that were far ahead of his time. He is even credited with designing a rudimentary form of aircraft.

Michelangelo (1465 – 1564)

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Michelangelo is one of the most well-known artists of all time. He was a painter, a sculptor, and an architect who also happened to write poetry occasionally. He grew up in Florence, a city that was a center of art and culture during the Renaissance period. His most famous artwork is the fresco painting of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. It took him four years to make it. Twenty years after painting the ceiling of the chapel, he returned to create one of the greatest frescoes of the Renaissance, The Last Judgment.

Michelangelo’s other creations, the sculpture David and Pietà, the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and the famous carving of Moses on the tomb of Pope Julian II serve as inspirations for young artists of the 21st century.

Johannes Vermeer (1632 – 1675)

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Johannes Vermeer was a Dutch Baroque Period painter who mostly painted domestic interior scenes of middle-class life. His work depicts scenes of everyday life in 17th-century Holland. The popular phrase ‘Vermeer’s women’ comes from the fact that many of his works feature women engaged in household tasks. They are pouring milk, reading a letter, or playing musical instruments. Among his most famous works are the Girl With a Pearl Earring, The Milkmaid, and View of Delft.

Vermeer was a moderately successful artist but he produced few paintings. He worked slowly and with great care, and frequently used expensive pigments. But he never made much money from them, leaving his wife and children in debt upon his death. He is known for his expert treatment and use of light in his work. He was also an avid art collector and dealer. Though he was modestly popular during his time, he was forgotten after his death. He was only rediscovered in the 19th century and went on to be acknowledged as one of the greatest painters of the Dutch Golden Age.

Vincent Van Gogh (1853 – 1890)

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Vincent Willem van Gogh was a Dutch post-impressionist painter. He is one of the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art. In his lifetime, he made 2,100 artworks, including 860 paintings. These include landscapes, still life, portraits, and self-portraits. Most of his works have bold colors and dramatic and expressive brushwork. His paintings include Starry Night, Cafe Terrace at Night, Sunflowers, and Self Portrait among others. 

Starry Night is perhaps one of the most recognized pieces of art in the world. You can see it everywhere, from coffee mugs and magnets to cushion covers and t-shirts. Its bright yellow and blue tones are unmissable. But despite the paintings’ fame, Van Gogh was pretty much unknown when he died by suicide at the age of 37. He was battling depression and poverty. He is today widely known for being the artist who cut off part of his ear. He inspired upcoming artists through his technique of painting with thick brushstrokes made up of bright colors squeezed straight from the tube.

Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973)

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Pablo Picasso was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and theater designer. His father was an academic painter and thus he began to draw at an early age. He was in his twenties he experimented with different ideas and techniques.

The total number of artworks he produced has been estimated at 50,000, comprising 1,885 paintings, 1,228 sculptures, 2,880 ceramics, roughly 12,000 drawings, many thousands of prints, and numerous tapestries and rugs. But painting was where he stood out. His career spanned nearly eight decades. His work reflects his evolving artistic vision as well as the changing landscape of the 20th century. Some of his most famous works include Guernica (a dramatic portrayal of the bombing of Guernica by German and Italian air forces during the Spanish Civil War), Bird of Peace, and Woman with Fan.

Picasso changed the very definition of classic art by introducing concepts such as collaging and Cubism. His distinctive take on the creation of art in every medium makes him one of the most impactful artists ever.

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