Tuesday, 13 March 2012

A Top 10 of Popular 20th Century Artists?

I keep intending to write about exhibitions I've attended recently but ... instead, prompted by the discussions we've been having at the Phoenix Ism's group, I thought I'd do a "best-of" or "most popular" top ten list for 20th century artists. Nerdy or what? The first couple are easy enough but from then on it becomes more than a bit subjective - so, basically, I've taken the key factors as originality and continuing influence (and some personal prejudice). This is what I came up with:

The three dancers - Picasso

1 - Pablo Picasso - No explanation needed.

Nude descending a staircase - Duchamp

2 - Marcel Duchamp - Innovator and inventor of "readymades".

Marilyn - Warhol

3 - Andy Warhol - Innovator and hugely influential in a range of media.

The temptation of St Anthony - Dali

4 - Salvador Dali - Showman, technically brilliant, clever ideas cleverly realised.

The dessert: Harmony in red - Matisse

5 - Henri Matisse -  A large variety of modern work including cutouts. Copies of his prints are still hugely popular.

The two Fridas - Frida Kahlo

6 - Frida Kahlo - Stark portrayal of the pain and harsh lives of women. Highly personal self portraits. Iconic.

Reclining woman with green stockings - Schiele

7 - Egon Schiele - Tortured genius, producing intense drawings and paintings.

Composition no 2 - Mondrian

8 - Piet Mondrian - Pioneer of grid-based pictures, Art theorist, joint founder of De Stijl and inventor of neoplasticism.

Red wedge - Lissitzky

9 - The Constructivists - I'm cheating here, counting the constructivists as one - but they would have understood. Literally, a revolutionary approach to graphic design.

Babe Rainbow - Peter Blake

10 - The Brits: Blake/Hockney/Hamilton/Bacon/Freud/Riley/Emin - Cheating again: I'm a huge fan of each of these but it would be unrealistic to place any one of them in the top ten - wouldn't it?

A bigger splash - David Hockney

Anyway, that's it - Not very satisfying as it leaves out so many great artists (whole movements in fact): Braque, Cezanne, Kandinsky and the Blue Rider, Modigliani, Hopper, Frank Stella, Lichtenstein and the other pop artists, Man Ray and the surrealists, the Expressionists, Paula Rego, the St Ives artists, performance artists from Beuys to Yoko Ono, and so on ... And Dali at number 4? ... Oh well

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