By Lea Struck

Picasso, Da Vinci and Michelangelo are all names you have probably heard before. But what exactly are they known for and which other famous artists must be remembered? Fly Aeolus lists for you in this blog the 10 most famous artists of all times.

1. Leonardo da Vinci

One of the most famous works of art in the world, the ‘Mona Lisa’ was brought to the canvas by the Italian at the beginning of the 16th century. But did you know that the equally famous ‘Last Supper’ is also a work of Leonardo da Vinci?

Most people are also unaware that the sculptor, painter, architect, and engineer was actually born under the name of Leonardo di ser Pieros da Vinci. However, since his surname was rather unfamiliar to people at that time, the famous artist simply shortened his signature on works to ‘da Vinci’. By the way, the most expensive painting ever sold worldwide, ‘Salvator mundi’ (450.3 million dollars), also bears the name of this artist.

The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci
The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci

2. Franz Marc

One of the most important German expressionists was Franz Moritz Wilhelm Marc. Born in Munich, he travelled after his art studies to Paris and Brittany, where he met Macke and Kandinsky in 1909. Those acquaintances influenced his works enormously. Consequentially he began to paint in an expressive, color-intensive style. Leaving more and more the figurative aside, the artist eventually even turned to the abstract. His main theme was mainly the animal world, as he considered it more beautiful and pure than the human being. It may therefore not come to a surprise that Franz Marc’s most famous works bear names such as ‘The Yellow Cow’, ‘Blue Horse’, ‘Fate of the Animals’, ‘The Tower of Blue Horses’, or ‘The Tiger’.

Blue Horse by Franz Marc
Blue Horse by Franz Marc

3. Michelangelo Buonarroti

Next to Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti is considered the most important artist of the High Renaissance. The two Italians also resemble each other in their professional activities as sculptors, painters, architects, and poets. Born in Caprese (a town in Tuscany), Buonarroti was by contrast mainly engaged in sculpture. Only later did he receive large painting and architectural commissions. If you are in Rome, be sure to visit St. Peter’s Basilica, whose ribbed dome was designed by Michelangelo. If you are in Rome, you should definitely visit. However, the artist’s most famous work can be found under the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel: The creation of Adam.

The creation of Adam by artists Michelangelo Buonarroti
The creation of Adam by Michelangelo Buonarroti

4. Pablo Picasso

“When I was a child, my mother said to me: «If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.» Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso.”

Pablo Picasso

With this statement the artist proved to be right: the name Picasso is probably one of the most common names in contemporary art. This is partly due to the fact that the Spaniard is considered one of the most modern of the best-known artists with his death in 1973. What you should also know is that his works, aside from those of Vincent van Gogh, are the most valuable and popular ones worldwide. But what exactly has the painter, sculptor, and graphic artist produced? Probably the most famous of his estimated 50,000 works of art is the peace symbol of the dove, which Picasso designed for the Paris World Peace Congress in 1946. Other masterpieces worth mentioning are for example ‘Guernica’, ‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon’, or ‘The Weeping Woman’. All pieces belong to the epochs of Surrealism, Cubism, and Expressionism.

Portrait de Dora Maar by Pablo Picasso
Portrait de Dora Maar by Pablo Picasso

5. Vincent van Gogh

The son of a pastor, Vincent van Gogh, was born in 1853 in Breda in the Netherlands. The painter and draughtsman is regarded as one of the founders of modern painting. What is also remarkable, is that all of his around 1860 paintings and drawings were made only in the last ten years of his life. The reason for this was that he also worked as a preacher and teacher. While he lived in complete poverty and financial dependence on his brother, today his works of art reach millions of Euros at auctions. This lifestyle also shaped Van Gogh’s psyche: in 1890 the artist attempted suicide, which later cost him his life.

The starry night by artists Vincent van Gogh
The starry night by Vincent van Gogh

6. Claude Monet

This French painter is considered the epitome of impressionism. Claude Monet’s main motif is nature, in the most diverse light moods. The artist created this by painting the same scene at different times of the day. Well-known works are among others ‘Poppy Fields near Argenteuil’, ‘The Japanese Footbridge’, ‘Impression, Sunrise’ or ‘Women in the Garden’.

Poppy Fields near Argenteuil by Claude Monet
Poppy Fields near Argenteuil by Claude Monet

7. Wassily Kandinsky

The graduated lawyer and economist was born in Moscow in 1866 but later moved to Munich to pursue his artistic career. There he followed his passion and developed into an artist of expressionism and one of the pioneers of abstract art. As a synesthete, Kandinsky did not only perceive colors as optical perception. He assigned sounds, smells, or even forms to the colors. Together with Franz Marc, Kandinsky created one of the most important German artists’ associations ‘Der Blaue Reiter’.

Composition VIII by artists Wassily Kandinsky
Composition VIII by Wassily Kandinsky

8. Caspar David Friedrich

Casper David Friedrich is regarded as one of the most important painters of the early romantic period. The German artist mainly brought landscapes connected in loneliness, death, and hopes of redemption on canvas. Which was nothing unusual for this epoch. After his death, Friedrich was considered forgotten at first, until the open-mindedness of his works found general interest again at the beginning of the 20th century. This was partly due to the fact that his art could be interpreted in a wide variety of ways. Take a look at his masterpiece ‘Wanderer above the Sea of Fog’. What do you think he wanted to say with this painting?

Wanderer above the Sea of Fog by artists Caspar David Friedrich
Wanderer above the Sea of Fog by Caspar David Friedrich

9. August Macke

Another German artist of high renown is August Macke. Born in 1887 he became friends with Franz Marc and was thus also involved in the artists’ association ‘Der Blaue Reiter‘. Already at the early age of 27, Macke died. That gave him nothing more than 5 years of time to create art, nevertheless, he was able to leave more than 500 pictures. With his strongest means of expression, the color, and the longing for a positive world, August Macke is still remembered as one of the most important representatives of the expressionism.

Woman in a Green Jacket by August Macke
Woman in a Green Jacket by August Macke

10. Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Finally, let’s take another leap into Impressionism: 1841 is regarded as the birth year of the French painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The scholar of porcelain painting became famous above all for his desire to spread pure joie de vivre with his paintings. And this was also reflected in his own life: even when the artist was confined to a wheelchair because of lameness, his passion exceeded his destiny. Every day he let the brush be tied to his hand and was thus ultimately able to leave behind around 6,000 pieces of art.

A garden in Montmartre by artists Pierre-Auguste Renoir
A garden in Montmartre by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

The most important museums of these artists

Have you found a new interest in art? Then let Fly Aeolus fly you to the most impressive art museums in Europe. The Louvre in Paris is thereby the king among the art exhibitions. But you can also find extensive collections of important artists in other cities. Here is a selection for your next art travel:

  • Florenz: Leonardo Da Vinci Museum; Casa Buonarroti (Michelangelo)
  • Kochel am See: Franz Marc Museum
  • Amsterdam: Van Gogh Museum
  • Paris: Musée Marmottan Monet; Musée d’Orsay
  • Munich: Lenbachhaus (Collections of the Blauer Reiter)
  • Barcelona: Museu Picasso
  • Greifswald: Caspar-David-Friedrich-Zentrum
  • Bonn: August Macke Haus

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