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7 Famous American Painters That Put Their Mark on History

Even if the 20th century was the peak for American painters, a lot of them became famous in the 19th century. The majority of American artists were influenced by English paintings, and the first well-known art movement was Realism, which was mostly based on the reality of life. Later, Abstract Expressionism took its place, and it was the first American artistic movement that became internationally recognized.

American painters like the Realist Edward Hopper, the Modernist Georgia O’Keeffe, the Abstract Expressionist Jackson Pollock, the Pop Artist Andy Warhol, and the Graffiti Artist Keith Haring are among the most well-known of the contemporary generation. Let’s take a step forward into a much deeper knowledge of how American painters put their mark on history.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

1. Gilbert Stuart

Gilbert Stuart was basically the inventor of oil painting in America’s early era. He was interested in portraits and the depiction of the human figure and personality, which he was trying to recreate in all his paintings. Gilbert was also the painter of George Washington’s portrait in 1796. Despite the fact that he was mostly known as melancholic and depressed, his creativity helped him create more than 1,000 portraits.

He was knowledgeable about portraiture conventions, represented gentility and luxury with ease, and consistently outperformed himself in producing images that visually satiated the demands and objectives of his clients.

2. Edward Hopper

At the beginning of the 20th century, a lot of things changed, including the style of painting. Many painters entered the scene and began to develop various techniques that have survived to the present day. One of them is Edward Hopper, who was well-known as “the painter of urban America.” He was especially interested in famous painters such as Degas and Monet, and his interests were in cubism and contemporary landscapes.

Extremely passionate about architecture, he first began watercolor paintings of attics, houses, and even narrow streets with interesting buildings around them. Hopper is regarded as one of America’s most famous realist painters. His scenes almost always have a certain air of sorrow.

It is embodied by the protagonists’ isolation and silence in his piece “Nighthawks,” giving a symptom of nostalgia for an earlier, more personal, and urbanized America. He accomplishes immortalizing stopped time on his canvas as a priceless witness to his period. The theatricality of his compositions, achieved by a potent contrast between raw light and shadows, will serve as a source of inspiration for the later world of photography and film.

3. Mary Cassatt

Even if the majority of painters were men, let’s not forget about women who also left their mark on the history of art. And one of them is Mary Cassatt, who was a representative and famous figure in the Impressionist movement. Cassatt joined the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts when she was just 16 years old, despite the fact that women were not permitted to pursue jobs at the time.

That’s why she chose to drop out of art school and move to Europe, where she could explore the paintings of the old painters with her own eyes. She met one of the most famous painters of all time, Edgar Degas when she relocated to Paris, where she would live out the rest of her days. Mary Cassatt was inspired by Degas’s paintings, especially by the colors he used, and she slowly became well-known for her brilliant portraits.

She took a special interest in women who were present in typical domestic situations, notably mothers with young children. Contrary to the Renaissance and masterworks, Cassatt’s portraits stood out for their simplicity and sincerity.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

4. Georgia O’ Keeffe

With an amazing career that lasted over 70 years, O’Keeffe was one of the best American fine painters. Despite the fact that she explored various styles over the years, she remained loyal to her own aesthetic and the abstract shapes of life. Georgia O’Keeffe’s major topics were flora, bones, and landscapes, which were made with extraordinary precision that made them look surreal and amazing. Most of them were inspired by her own day-to-day life that she tried to show in a unique shape.

Besides the oil paintings, she also experimented by using charcoal in her sketches, which made her even more famous. Which one is your favorite?

5. Norman Rockwell

Known as “The American Storyteller,” Norman Rockwell’s paintings put their mark on history from the interwar period to the postwar. He was always fascinated by drawing, and at the age of 16, he enrolled at the American Academy of Design in New York. Then, for a second time, he enrolled in the elite school of fine arts known as the Art Students League.

His first illustrations were commissioned by youth periodicals due to his incredible talent before he reached the age of majority. But the peak of his career was in 1922 when he painted his first magazine cover for “The Saturday Evening Post.” This brought him a long-time collaboration during which he painted more than 300 covers.

Rockwell is mostly known for his photo-like style because he painted the daily lives of American middle-class citizens, but in a funny way that was supposed to bring a smile to everybody who saw his paintings. During World War II, he was one of the American painters who was most politically involved.

6. Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein was the first artist who switched from Cubism and Expressionism to Pop Art, which made him famous. The first time art critics saw his art, they thought he copied the original because of all the resemblances, and they named him “the worst artist in the USA.”

His works were mostly inspired by graphic novels, and he was among the first artists to develop the punctured technique. This pattern became his trademark, and it was one of the main sources of inspiration for all Pop Art artists.

Compared to other painters, his style was outstanding, marked by strong colors, contrast, and attention to detail. Lichtenstein also explained that the visible brushwork in his paintings was intended to create a moving feeling. What do you think about this artist?

Photo by mundissima From Shutterstock

7. Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol, the American icon of Pop Art, began his fruitful career as a graphic designer. His art had a different touch that got visibility in no time. In addition to making art into a consumer good, he elevated commonplace items to the status of works of art. Pop Art’s creator, Andy Warhol, is justifiably regarded as one of its pioneers.

He moved to New York in 1949, where he started a job as an artist for various fashion magazines. Besides this, his other main focus was commercial goods like cartons, ketchup, and soup cans. He captured the spirit of American civilization as an artist and cinematographer, poet and writer, and devout Catholic during his brief but eventful life.

He was a well-known figure in the arts, but he also went against the grain by openly accepting his homosexuality. Few people knew that he also had his struggles and depression years, but he managed to deliver amazing art that definitely left a mark on American history.

Which one of these 7 famous American painters is your favorite?

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