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  • Writer's pictureVishakha

The Most Influential Artists Who Shaped Figurative Art

While figurative art has been around for thousands of years, it was identified as a separate art style only after the emergence of abstractionism. In simple terms, figurative art means any form of art that depicts subjects from the real world.

A figurative paintingg

Thus it is an umbrella term for portraits, animal art, landscapes, and any other theme that depicts a subject in its real form. So in other words, before abstract art was born, every artwork was figurative art. To better understand this art style, let us also take a look at some of the most influential artists of this genre. 

Most Influential Artists of Figurative Style

Throughout history, we have witnessed numerous artists who managed to impress the world with their strokes but only a few could leave their imprints for the time infinite. While there are many reasons to love figurative art, it’s their contributions, that gave it a new direction. Today we will talk about those maestros of figurative art, the most influential artists who have immortalized themselves through their artwork. 

1. Michelangelo 

If you only know this Italian Renaissance artist for his breathtaking frescoes on the ceilings of the Sistine Chapel, then you are missing out on a lot. While the frescoes cemented his place as a timeless artist, he was also a sculptor, poet, and architect apart from being a painter. He rose to fame with his realistic sculptures Pietà and David and thereafter took four years to finish his work in the Chapel.

His works are celebrated to this date for their psychological tension, complexity, physical realism, and the artist’s understanding of light and shadow.

2. Pablo Picasso 

It won’t be an exaggeration to say that Pablo Picasso was one of the most influential artists of the early 20th century. During his lifetime of 91 years, he completed 13,500 paintings and has influenced not just figurative art but also initiated cubism, and made massive contributions to surrealism, sculpting, and symbolism with his works.

He created some of his most famous works during his blue period with extensive use of blue pigment to express his melancholy in his work. Some famous examples are The Old Guitarist and La Soupe. 

3. El Greco

The Greek artist received his first commissioned work in Spain for the high altar of the church of Santo Domingo el Antiguo at Toledo. This influential artist is said to have been highly influenced by the frescoes of Michelangelo and ended up creating a masterpiece himself that is known as The Assumptions of the Virgin. The resultant work turned out to be the beginning of his magnificent career in Spain and a revelation of his artistic genius.

He went on to create other masterpieces such as The Disrobing of the Christ, The Martyrdom of St. Maurice, and many more. It is worth mentioning that at the time of its creation, the latter painting was not approved by Philippe II because of the daring use of the yellows but it is considered quite an appealing artwork in present times.

4. Tamara De Lempicka

While the life story of Lempicka is unclear, the fact that she is one of the most sought-after artists of the 20th century today is non-debatable. This self-taught artist took art only after her life turned upside-down and her entire family had to flee to Paris after the Russian Revolution. The emergence of abstractionism severely impacted her career as a figurative artist, but it never stopped her.

Even with the highs and lows of her career, she created artworks that celebrated women, their bodies, and salacious desires, which was also a reflection of her bisexuality. Some of her most loved figurative works include Group of Four Nudes and La Belle Rafaela. Whereas, it was her Self-Portrait in a Green Bugatti that made her the icon of art deco.

Figurative Art Mirrors Mankind

Figurative art is one of the most relatable genres of art because it encapsulates human life in its different forms— fragments of stories that every spectator can relate to in their own ways. With its existence dating back thousands of years, some of the artists managed to tell timeless stories with every figurative work they created. These influential artists have revolutionized the face of art and inspired artists in different time frames who shall continue to uphold this creative legacy for generations to come. Studying their work will also help you understand figurative art, in a much better way.


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