Visual art is one of the oldest forms of human expression, stretching all the way back to the cave paintings at el Castillo in Northern Spain to the massive installations by Damien Hirst in the 1990s. This resource will concentrate mainly on visual art, such as sculpture, painting, ceramics and drawing, some specific periods and movements in the history of art and galleries and influential museums which house online resources for those interested in viewing art and learning more about particular forms.
There are several museums which have large collections of prehistoric and ancient art:
- The Bradshaw Foundation maintains a comprehensive online resource on cave and rock paintings found around the world.
- The Museum of the Terracotta Army opened in 1979 to exhibit the collection of terracotta figures representing the armies of Qin Shi Huang the first emperor of China. Found in 1974 it was an amazing discovery thought to be the largest ceramic figurine collection in China.
- The Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University houses a large collection of Ancient Egyptian and Nubian Antiquities.
- The Brooklyn Museum houses one of the world’s foremost collections of Egyptian, Classical and Near Eastern Art.
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a large collection of medieval art as well as collections that range into the 21st century.
- The International Center of Medieval Art promotes the study of medieval art and culture.
- The University of Pittsburgh has a growing collection of images of medieval art and architecture.
Major Museums that house Renaissance to Romantic art include:
- The Uffizi Art Gallery in Florence, Italy is the world’s oldest art gallery and hosts some of the finest examples of Renaissance art.
- Home of the Catholic Church, Vatican City in Rome is an enormous museum playing host to many of the Renaissance’s most important artists.
- The Louvre, situated in the center of Paris, has an enormous collection of Renaissance art, including the world famous Mona Lisa.
- The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Holland is one of the world’s premier museums for Golden Age Dutch art as well as world art.
Major Museums that house modern art include:
- The Museum of Modern Art was founded in 1929 in New York City as a museum to house the growing amount of modern art proliferating.
- The Tate Modern, located in London is another home to large collections of Modern and contemporary art.
Although many of the artists listed below are multi-talented, being architects, sculptors, inventors or writers, most of the are best known as painters.
Major painters from the medieval up to modernism include:
- Giotto- Considered to be a medieval painter, Giotto is the first of the Italian painters to begin to move toward what is known as the Italian Renaissance, breaking with the Byzantine style which dominated art at the time.
- Donatello- One of the earliest Renaissance artists, Donatello is famous for his sculptures and bas relief and contributed to developments in perspective.
- Masaccio- The first influential painter of the Quattrocento period of the Renaissance, Masaccio was skilled at creating lifelike figures and movements.
- Leonardo da Vinci- Master painter, inventor, engineer and writer, da Vinci is one of the most widely known figures in the Renaissance.
- Michaelangelo- A master of the High Renaissance, he was a poet, architect, sculptor and engineer in addition to his painting. His statue of David and the Sistine Chapel are some of the most famous pieces of art ever created.
- Raphael- Another High Renaissance painter and architect, Raphael’s clarity and composition made him the third great master of the period.
- Vasari- Now known more for his important biographies of other painters, Vasari was the first great art historian and an accomplished painter as well.
- Titian- An influential member of the Venetian school, Titian was an adept landscape and portrait painter as well as a master of color and technique.
- Caravaggio- Painting at the beginning of the Baroque period, Caravaggio was forgotten after his death and only in the 20th century has his reputation been renewed. However, he was extremely influential on many painters who proceded him.
- Hieronymus Bosch- The idiosyncratic Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch has one of the most recognizable styles of painting, using fantastic imagery to tell stories.
- Holbein- the premier painter of the English court under Henry VIII, Holbein’s paintings were often of leading figures in world literature and politics
- Pieter Bruegel the Elder- A Flemish Renaissance painter, Bruegel is a member of a family of painters and is best known for his work Landscape with the Fall of Icarus.
- Peter Paul Reubens- The Flemish Baroque painter Reubens has one of the more distinct styles of any age. His use of color and movement was pronounced and he was also known as a Humanist scholar.
- Rembrandt van Rijn- The most famous of the Dutch painters during the Golden Age of painting in the Netherlands, Rembrandt’s masterworks include The Night Watch, housed at the Rijksmuseum.
- Johannes Vermeer- A slow working and modest painter during his lifetime, only 34 paintings have been attributed to him, mostly Dutch interiors, but he is considered to be one of the premier painters of the Dutch Golden Age.
Major Romantic, Realist and Impressionist painters include:
- J. M. W. Turner- Turner was a Romantic painter of England whose landscapes, both oil and watercolor, earned him the nickname ‘the painter of light’ and is considered one of the primary connectors between Romanticism and Impressionism.
- Edouard Manet- One of the essential painters to bridge the gap between Realism and Impressionism, Manet received scorn from critics over his art, but inspired many younger painters to the heights of Impressionism.
- James Whistler- A profoundly influential American born artist, Whistler spent much of his life in England. He lived the credo ‘art for art’s sake’.
- Vincent Van Gogh- Poorly received in his lifetime, only selling one painting for 400 francs, Van Gogh’s influence on world art is incalculable. The museum named after him in Amsterdam, Holland houses many of his most important works.
- Claude Monet- The founder and most influential artist in the Impressionist movement, Monet’s use of plein-air landscape painting was influential to later artists.
- Georges Seurat was a post-Impressionist who developed his own unique style called pointillism.
Major modern artists after the Impressionists include:
- Henri Matisse was one of the earliest modern artists and was extremely influential to a number of other artists. He led the fauvist movement.
- Pablo Picasso is arguably the most influential painter and sculptor of the 20th century. His was one of the early cubists and his representational style is world-renowned.
- Edvard Munch- Known for his four Scream paintings, Munch was a serious painter and printmaker from Norway influential for his depictions of human psychology
- Marcel Duchamp is considered one of the more controversial artists of the modern period. His work is associated with Dadaism, Cubism and Surrealism.
- Salvador Dali- He was a famous surrealist painter from Spain noted for his bizarre imagery. Dali also collaborated in photography, film and other media.
- Andy Warhol- One of the major artists in the Pop Art Movement, Warhol was famous for his films, photography and screen printing.
- Jackson Pollock- Pollock was one of the most influential abstract expressionist painters in New York after World War II. His large paint splattered canvases are virtual icons.