Art has always been a defining characteristic of a time period or culture. Artists have not only influenced how art lovers view art — they’ve also had a profound influence on the art of their contemporaries.
Every person who is interested in or learning about art has his or her own favorite artists, and there are many local and national museums displaying excellent art. Another source for viewing and reading about art is online, and it’s as simple as searching for artwork on eBay.
There are so many incredible artists, and compiling a list of the most influential ones is a challenging task. However, there are five artists who most experts and aficionados agree have had the biggest impact on the history of art and other artists.
1. Claude Monet (1840-1926) – The French artist is considered the “founder of Impressionism” and is famous for his loose brush strokes and depiction of light. The list of well-known artists who were influenced by his work is impressive: Sisky, Degas, Morisot, Whistler, Seurat and Vuillard.
2. Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519) – Da Vinci is known as “The Universal Renaissance Man” because of his wide range of interests that included science, astronomy and visual art. The Florentine artist is best known for the “Mona Lisa” painting. Much of his work is religious and is famous for its dramatic influences and attention to detail. He has influenced and inspired artists and contemporaries, including El Greco, for centuries rather than years.
3. Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) – Picasso is one of the co-founders of the Cubism art movement and influenced Abstraction. There are some experts who’d argue he is “the most influential artist of the 20th Century.” He is best known for his Blue and Rose periods of work. Salvador Dali and Paul Klee’s works were influenced by Picasso’s style.
4. Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) – Called “the first artist to create art for art’s sake,” Rembrandt is the most prolific painter of biblical subjects in history. His portraits have influenced other portrait painters’ works, and his Romance period art influenced the work of artists like Georges Seurat.
5. Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) – Michelangelo is best known for “David” and the Sistine Chapel frescoes. He has influenced artists of every artistic persuasion throughout history and is regarded as one of the key figures in Italian High Renaissance art. What distinguishes Michelangelo is his wide range of artistic talent — architecture, painting and sculpture — and the power of his work.
It comes as no surprise that the works of the oldest artists still endure as the best.