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The most famous american paintings

Updated on August 7, 2013

Famous American paintings.

In art history some paintings stand out. Unique paintings that set there mark and left there trace. Think about the Mona Lisa or the sunflowers of Van Gogh. But during the 20th centurary the American art scene was alive and kicking as well.

Famous American painters are for instance Willem de Kooning, Georga O Keeffe and Jackson Pollock. The later just like Van Gogh never got rich by selling his paintings. Today though the "drip paintings" made by Jackson Pollock are worth millions.

The most famous painting perhaps is a painting painted Grant Wood, a painting called "Amarican Gothic". The painting was first shown at an exhibition in the Art Institute in Chicago in 1930. IT won a $300 prize and is recognized as one of the most precious paintings of America. The painting of the farmers family still is in The Art Institute of Chicago today.

There has been many an interpretation of the painting. As most famous paintings intend to have. The picture is often seen as a satire towards the American depression. A farmer next to his daughter showing a conservative and narrow-mindedness of rural small-town life.

The title "American Gothic" refers to the window of the house. The pointy glass window is a typical window style used in Gothic times.

Grant Wood : American Gothic - The most famous American painting.


The most famous American painter

"American Gothic" may be the most famous American painting but the most famous American Painter is probably Jackson Pollock. Although some people may go for Andy Warhol as the most famous painter, I consider him more as a conceptional artist then as a painter.

Jackson Pollock was one of the founders of a new type of art in America. A style that was later called Abstract Expressionism. It's a broad term and it covers many different American artists. Like Willem de Kooning, Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko. All painters who left there mark in art history.

Pollock, the movie

Pollock (Special Edition)
Pollock (Special Edition)
The movie Pollock shows us a intimate point of view inside the life of Jackson Pollock. We see him struggle with his art, his career and his tragic death. A well kept image of a great American painter.

Famous American painter Jackson Pollock at work


Jackson Pollock - famous drip paintings - American modern art

In the history of modern art, Jackson Pollock became an icon of the post war art scene in America. As WWII had left there scars all over the world, artists tried to started there own healing process.

In Europe a group called COBRA tried to find humanities innocence in drawings made by children and used them as a source for inspiration. In the US artist looked for emotional expressions as well. But not in the way the classic expressionists like Edward Munch (The Scream) van Gogh and Kirchner showed there emotions.

The art in the US became more abstract. Like the European artists after the war, the American artists too looked for a way inwards. With as a frontman Willem de Kooning, a painter respected by all, American artists started to build there own specific language. Had the American art scene looked up against the European and copied them in a way, now they discovered there own heritage and new freedom. The American Art got it's own unique identity.

Jackson Pollock went back to the drawings made by the Native Americans, in his early work you find there influence. Drawing in the sand, on the rocks. Jackson too, became more and more close to the American soil and its history. He loved to work on the floor, spreading out large pieces of canvas or paper and like a dancer he connected himself with the painting he made.

Famous American painter from Dutch origin - Willem de Kooning


Who are the 10 most famous American painters ?

Who is your favorite American Painter ?

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The most famous modern American painters.

Choosing out of a list of 10 of the most famous American painters isn't easy. The list of painters can be much longer. Painters like Chuck Close, Arshile Gorky, Robert Motherwell, Grant Wood (who I left out of the list because I think, personal opinion..., that he made one great painting, but overall he belongs more in the list of the 50 best American Painters then the top 10. But this is highly debatable and a personal opinion.

I did not put Andy Warhol on the list, although he probably is one of the most famous artists of America. But I see him more as a conceptional artist then as a painter. But this may be a point of discussion because Andy Warhol made some great drawings.

The strange thing with a label like "famous" is that it's not always a quality label. It only tells us that the person is well known. George Bush for instance is famous and at the moment he paints too!!!! So he is a famous painter in a way...But are his pictures good ?

George W. Bush painting his dog...


Interview with Willem de Kooning

American Expresionism - Painters after WWII

After the WWII American art started to invade the international art scene. It was not only Europe anymore who dominated the art world. Europe recovering of the war had a different picture of the world then America. And as America celebrated there new fought freedom, American artists broke away from the past.

With Willem de Kooning a s a front man painting in America was alive and kicking. From the more lyrical painters like Arshile Gorky, Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning up to the "hard edge" paintings and colorfield paintings of Barnet Newman and Louis Fontana.

Willem de Kooning was anlready famous during his life. Being a Dutch artist from origin, coming from the harbers of Rotterdam, he crossed the ocean as a stowaway on a British ship before the war.

He was a member a group of artists that became famous under the name the "New York School". Together with Phillip Guston, Mark Rothko, Robbert Motherwell and Arshile Gorky among others they created a whole new way of expressing art.

Phillip Guston. Famous American Artist

My personal most interesting American artist is Phillip Guston. He started of as an American Expressionist but slowly developed his own style. His style was just like Andy warhol inspired by AMerican pop culture but in a completely different way.

Robert Crumb an important and famous American underground cartoon artist used some of Phillip Gustons painting language in his comics as well. Phillip Guston painted about his own life. In a period when figurative painting was not done and abstract painting was the hottest thing to do. Guston started with his Ku Klux Klan figures.

The reason why I like him is that he has a very personal style. As well, he manages to make paintings with a minimum of colors and images. The paintings are simple, strong of composition and color. Like a designer, his paintings are just right, not to much information and not an overload of details.

And besides his serious themes, he also has a certain humor in his work.

Robert Rauschenberg.

Another artist I like is Robert Rauschenberg. This because of his versatility of ideas. Maybe he is, like Andy Warhol, more an all rounder then a painter. Where Willem de Kooning is definitely a painter who also made some sculptures, Robert Rauschenberg is an artist who also made some paintings.

His huge collages with a portrait of Kennedy and the moon landing is very famous. In many ways his painting are collages of eclectic ideas, sometimes political. He's definitely an artist with guts. And I like artists who try new things, who walk the untrodden paths.

All good artist change the history of art. They change the way how we look at the world. To think out of the box and into the open.

In the last century America had a big part in the history of the arts and how we perceive the world. Now with the coming of the Chinese artists like Wei Wei the cultural world will change again.

Robert Rauschenberg - The most famous American paintings


Robert Rauschenberg - Erased Willem De Kooning

The most famous American Artist - Comments

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    • bhattuc profile image

      Umesh Chandra Bhatt 

      3 weeks ago from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India

      Nice. Well presented.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      20 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Very nice article. I am surprised one name missing from your list. My personal favorite is Andrew Wyeth and the painting “Christina World.”

    • Ricardo007Brown profile image

      Ricardo L Brown 

      24 months ago from Sacramento, CA



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