There are many famous artists in our Western civilization's art history. However, if you ask a group of art lovers to name ten famous painters and sculptors, you will get a different list from each of them.
The names of artists like Matisse, Constable, Vermeer, and Cezanne will probably be on the lists. However, many famous artists whose names will appear on the art lovers' lists will probably be unknown to many who are not art enthusiasts.
But we think there are at least five famous artists whose names would probably be known to everyone. These artists are so renowned that literally, everyone has heard their names somewhere. So let's look at the five; you can decide whether you agree with us. Just remember many people who are not as enthusiastic about art as you might know the artist's name without appreciating any of the artist's artworks.
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Let us start with the "most recent" artist whose name we think everyone has heard of. If we look at visual artists who lived and worked during the end of the 1800s or the early 1900s, most people will recognize the name "Pablo Picasso" because they've heard of him or read something about him.
Many people who are not art enthusiasts will remember that they heard about Picasso when one of his masterpieces was sold in 2015 for more than $150 million. The artwork is "Women of Algiers (Version O)" sold at an auction in 2015 for $179,365,000.
And usually, it will be only art lovers who can give you the name of one of his paintings. For many people, he is just known for what they call his "block-shaped" paintings. They are then referring to his artworks in the Cubist style.
We think it is probably true that everyone has heard about the famous Picasso. He was a Spanish painter, sculptor, ceramicist, printmaker, and theater designer. Although he grew up in Spain, he spent most of his adult life in France, where he created most of his artwork.
Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)
Vincent van Gogh is one of the most famous artists. However, if you ask almost anybody to tell you something about Vincent van Gogh, you'll probably get the answer that he was the artist who cut off his ear. This is, unfortunately, why many people know about him.
Sadly, this "negative" part of Van Gogh's life is often the only reason many people have heard his name. Only art lovers know that he was the painter who is generally considered the greatest Dutch painter after Rembrandt van Rijn.
Van Gogh should be remembered as one of the greatest Post-Impressionists who powerfully influenced Expressionism in modern art. Considering renowned paintings by artist name, van Gogh’s artworks are certainly some of the most famous artworks in the world
Rembrandt van Rijn (1606- 1669)
When we asked people – especially people not specifically interested in art - to name a well-known Dutch painter from the 1600s, most people named Rembrandt van Rijn. This is probably because he is famous for all his paintings' biblical themes, and his paintings' reproductions are often used in religious and other publications. Most people have seen a reproduction or photo of his "Night Watch," the "Ascension of Christ," or one of his other famous paintings.
He should, however, be remembered for his story-telling abilities. Rembrandt van Rijn is known as one of the greatest storytellers in art history and one can surely find many fascinating paintings by the artist name. He created many "story-telling paintings." A good example is "The Storm on the Sea of Galilee."
Unfortunately, most people who are not great art lovers know the name "Rembrandt" but don't know that he created more than 600 paintings, about 400 etchings, and 2,000 drawings and that his painting skills are legendary. Rembrandt van Rijn was an innovative artist and is regarded as the most important visual artist in Dutch art history. His artworks depict a wide range of styles and subject matter.
Michelangelo was born in 1475 in the Republic of Florence, Italy, and died in 1564 in Rome. As he is considered by many the greatest artist of all time, his name is known to almost everyone. Many of his works in painting, sculpture, and architecture are among the most famous in the Western World.
He is probably widely recognized for his frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. And his sculpture "Pieta," portraying the Virgin Mary holding Jesus Christ after the Crucifixion, is often used in publications. His "David" sculpture is world famous.
Because of his well-known and famous sculptures and his excellent ceiling painting of the Sistine Chapel, his artworks are often mentioned in Italian tourist brochures. This might be another reason why people can recall the name.
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
Because Leonardo da Vinci is famous for more than his artworks, most people have heard his name. He was a painter, draftsman, engineer, theorist, scientist, sculptor, and architect. He is also known to keep notebooks, in which he made drawings and took notes on various subjects. For example, he made notes about anatomy, astronomy, botany, cartography, painting, and paleontology.
Perhaps people who are not art enthusiasts have heard of Leonardo da Vinci's ideas, concepts, and inventions rather than his artworks. But very few people haven't heard of at least two of his paintings, namely the "Mona Lisa" and "The Last Supper."
As "The Last Supper" is the most reproduced religious painting of all time and the "Mona Lisa" is the most famous painting in the world, everyone has some knowledge about Da Vinci and his works.
These five artists we've discussed are artists who everyone has heard of some or another time. Unfortunately, "knowing the name" does not necessarily mean that the person is an art enthusiast and knows more about the artist than only the name. We hope that if any of these famous five artists is only a name to you, you take the time and learn more about the artist.