The twentieth century ushered in an age of art that was unlike any other era in history. In a time fraught with war, socio-political turmoil, rapid technological advancements and more, boundaries were broken and traditional art was discarded for more experimental styles.
The very concept of art itself was repeatedly challenged, with new movements springing up every decade, from realism to surrealism, pop art to minimalism.
But who were the most influential artists of the twentieth century, and what have we learned from their legacy?
Born and raised in the North West of England, Lowry was a modernist painter best known for his depictions of the industrial scenes he was surrounded by throughout his life.
He worked for most of his life as a debt collector, working on his paintings at night after his shifts. However, this did not mean that he was a naive painter - he spent 20 years between 1905-1925 studying at various art schools, and was trained under the French Impressionist Adolphe Valette.
Even today his paintings are instantly recognizable. Featuring his famous ‘stickman’ figures against an often hazy-white industrial background, his paintings rarely depict a specific location. One of his most famous paintings titled ‘The Mill, Pendlebury’, which was once believed to be lost, was sold at auction in 2020 to the tune of £2.65m.
American painter Normal Rockwell is best known for his works reflecting iconic aspects of American culture, from the typical ‘nuclear family’ to American heroes to Thanksgiving dinner and more.
His artistic career began when he was just 17 years old with his first commission for the cover of The Saturday Evening Post. Throughout his career, he would go on to create 321 covers in total for the publication.
His work has been a great source of inspiration for many, including Stephen Spielberg and George Lucas, and many of his pieces have been parodied and imitated over the years. His 1951 painting Saying Grace sold in 2013 for a record-breaking $46 million US.
One of the most highly regarded artists of the twentieth century, Spanish painter Salvador Dali welcomed in a new wave of artistic expression through his Surreal works.
In his work, his subjects were bizarre and irrational - from his famous melting clocks to the lobster telephone. This was in keeping with the Surrealist movement of the time, which sought to reject the ‘rationalism’ in the events that had led up to the First World War and instead connect to the "conscious and unconscious realms of experience."
The most expensive Dali painting ever sold was titled ‘Portrait of Paul Eluard’, which went for $22.5million US at Sotheby’s in 2011.
Along with Dali, Pablo Picasso is one of the most influential and iconic figures of the twentieth century. Working in the mediums of Cubism, collage, abstract, Symbolism and Surrealism, Picasso’s work has left a profound impact on the art world.
Working until his death in 1973 at the age of 91, Picasso left behind a legacy of over 20,000 pieces of art ranging from paintings to sculptures, ceramics and drawings.
His highest-selling piece was titled Les Femmes d'Alger, which was bought for $179.4 million US in 2015.
Alongside Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein was a pioneer of the Pop Art movement that rose to prominence in the 1960s.
His vibrant and colourful works often had a satirical tone, parodying aspects of American culture through his signature comic-book styles.
His highest-selling piece was titled Masterpiece, painted in 1962, which sold for $165 million US in 2017, making it one of the most expensive pieces ever sold.
The works of these twentieth-century masters are highly sought after, with collectors around the world eager to discover them. By working with the estates and families of these artists, our Signature collection brings these unique and timeless classics to the market for investment.
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