Art has been created throughout the entire course of human history. As a result, narrowing down which artists to teach in your class can be a daunting task. We’ve combed through continents and art movements to bring you a list of some of the most interesting artists we think your students should know about. Art is diverse and so is our list of famous artists. Whether you are into painting, sculpting, found art, or graffiti, there is sure to be something for everyone on this list.
Artists of the New York City Art Scene in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s
1. Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960–1988)
Known for: Beginning as a graffiti artist, Basquiat eventually found himself one of the major stars of the neo-Expressionism art movement of New York City in the 1980s. Aside from his art, he is known for being a close friend of the artist Andy Warhol.
Learn more: Life and Works of Jean-Michel Basquiat
2. Andy Warhol (1928–1987)
Known for: Warhol’s iconic bright-colored collages of Marilyn Monroe and Campbell’s soup cans are synonymous with the pop art movement that began in the 1950s and and peaked in the 1960s. Warhol is a legend who belongs atop any list of famous artists.
Learn more: Life and Works of Andy Warhol
3. Keith Haring (1958–1990)
Known for: Despite dying of AIDS at just 31 years old in 1990, Haring made a big impact on the art scene in the 1980s. In 1989, Haring created the Keith Haring Foundation, which used his iconic paintings to bring funding and awareness to the AIDS crisis.
Learn more: Life and Works of Keith Haring
4. Jeff Koons (born 1955)
Known for: Koons is perhaps best known for his large, stainless-steel balloon animal sculptures, which have shiny, bright finishes. He is part of the pop art movement in New York City.
Learn more: Life and Works of Jeff Koons
American Modernist Painters
5. Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986)
Known for: O’Keeffe was an American modernist painter best known for her close-up paintings of large flowers as well as desert landscapes. She was married to American photographer Alfred Stieglitz until his death in 1946.
Learn more: Life and Works of Georgia O’Keeffe
6. Charles Demuth (1883–1935)
Known for: Demuth’s most notable work is I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold, which was a tribute to his friend and poet William Carlos Williams. He was also close friends with Georgia O’Keeffe and her husband. His works show the influences of various art movements in the 1920s that eventually led to American modernism.
Learn more: Life and Works of Charles Demuth
Artists Inspired by the Afrofuturism Movement
7. Cyrus Kabiru (born 1984)
Known for: A Kenyan artist, Kabiru repurposes trash and turns it into unique eyewear. Kabiru was inspired to create his found-object sculptural glasses after growing up across from a refuse dump.
Learn more: Life and Works of Cyrus Kabiru
8. Ellen Gallagher (born 1965)
Known for: Gallagher’s work includes both abstract painting as well as multimedia pieces that often combine racially charged imagery with elements of formality.
Learn more: Life and Works of Ellen Gallagher
Renaissance Artists of 16th-Century Europe
9. Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528)
Known for: Dürer was a German artist of the Renaissance period who was a painter, draftsman, writer, and printmaker. He created a number of self-portraits in a variety of mediums.
Learn more: Life and Works of Albrecht Dürer
10. Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (1475–1564)
Known for: Arguably the most famous artist of all time, Michelangelo is perhaps best known for his statue David as well as his Sistine Chapel artwork. A true Renaissance man, Michelangelo was a painter, sculptor, architect, and poet.
11. Titian (1490–1576)
Known for: Tiziano Vecellio, known in English as Titian, was the greatest painter of 16th-century Venice. Like other famous artists and painters, he painted a variety of subjects and his style changed greatly over the course of his lifetime.
Learn more: Life and Works of Titian
12. Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya (born 1992)
Known for: A neuroscientist by trade, Phingbodhipakkiya uses her art to explore scientific concepts as well as feminism. She is the founder of Beyond Curie, a design project that celebrates women in STEM.
Learn more: Life and Works of Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya
13. Frida Kahlo (1907–1954)
Known for: Considered a feminist icon by many, Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is perhaps best known for her raw and honest self-portraits. Like many other famous artists, Kahlo married a kindred spirit in Mexican painter Diego Rivera.
Learn more: Life and Works of Frida Kahlo
14. Judy Chicago (born 1939)
Known for: Chicago, an American feminist artist, creates large-scale installation pieces that focus on the role of women in society throughout history.
Learn more: Life and Works of Judy Chicago
Artists of the Cubist Movement
15. Pablo Picasso (1881–1973)
Known for: One of the founders of the Cubist movement, Spanish artist Pablo Picasso created art across a number of mediums including painting, sculpting, and printmaking. Even among famous artists, his style is easily recognizable and has been taught in schools across the world.
Learn more: Life and Works of Pablo Picasso
16. Paul Klee (1879–1940)
Known for: Klee’s works combined elements of cubism, surrealism, and expressionism. In addition to his paintings, he also created puppets for his son.
Learn more: Life and Works of Paul Klee
17. Salvador Dalí (1904–1989)
Known for: Spanish artist Dalí is perhaps best known for his work The Persistence of Memory, which prominently features melting clocks. His eccentric behaviors were almost as well known as his famous paintings and sculptures.
Learn more: Life and Works of Salvador Dalí
18. René François Ghislain Magritte (1898–1967)
Known for: Belgian artist René Magritte’s most iconic work, The Philosopher’s Lamp, epitomizes his style, which depicts ordinary items in an extraordinary way.
Learn more: Life and Works of René Magritte
19. Jackson Pollock (1912–1956)
Known for: Everyone recognizes American painter Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings even if they aren’t familiar with his name. Pollock was one of the biggest stars of the abstract expressionist movement.
Learn more: Life and Works of Jackson Pollock
20. Willem de Kooning (1904–1997)
Known for: De Kooning was a Dutch American painter who was part of a group of artists in the abstract expressionist movement who became known as the New York School. He was married to fellow painter Elaine Fried.
Learn more: Life and Works of Willem de Kooning