25 Artists from the 1900s to Include in Your Picture Study Time

The 1900s included many artists who are prime candidates for your picture study time. Numerous new movements dominated the art world during this time, even while more traditional styles continued to thrive, and artists of color and female artists began gaining more traction and recognition during this time as well.

In this week’s post, I’m sharing a list of some excellent options for picture study from the 1900s! As I mentioned last month, these are certainly not the only ones to explore, especially as the 20th century included so many different kinds of styles, many of which were particularly abstract. These are, however, some of the ones I’ve enjoyed learning more about either in my college classes or later on as I have pursued more art history knowledge on my own.

I’ve again tried to include a range of styles, nationalities, and perspectives; however, if you see an artist you feel should be listed here, feel free to leave a comment below!

The Artists

Alphonse Mucha

Alphonse Mucha, “The Slavs in Their Original Homeland (Part of The Slav Epic),” 1914

Nationality: Moravian
Movement: Art Nouveau

Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939) is a fitting artist to begin this list, as he is one of my personal favorites. His art elevated everyday goods with beauty, but more poignant is his devotion to his culture (a running theme in his art) and his people – the Slavs – who were eternally living in fractured groups around Eastern Europe. His “Slav Epic” cycle of massive paintings illustrates the history of the Slavic people, and one of these years, I’d love to see it in person. (Also, fun fact: if you happen to be in North Dakota, you can see his work at St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church in Pisek.)

Alfredo Andersen

Alfredo Andersen, “Burnings or Laundresses,” Date Unknown

Nationality: Norwegian (active in Brazil)
Movement: Impressionism

Alfredo Andersen (1860-1935) was born in Norway but spent most of his life in Brazil after his ship crashed there in the early 1890s. Ironically, he is known as the “father of Paranaense painting” and his oeuvre includes primarily landscapes of the area in Brazil where he lived (Paraná).

Elin Danielson-Gambogi

Elin Danielson-Gambogi, “On the Way Home in the Evening Light,” 1901

Nationality: Finnish
Movement: Realism

Elin Danielson-Gambogi (1861-1919) was a Finnish female artist who lost her father at a young age to suicide and she and her sister were raised by her mother alone. Her art has a more feminine feel than other Realist artists of her era and she was truly a master of light.

Mikhail Vasilyevich Nesterov

Mikhail Vasilyevich Nesterov, “Vision of Youth Bartholomew,” ca. 1889-1890

Nationality: Russian
Movement: Symbolism

Mikhail Nesterov (1862-1842) followed in the footsteps of his Russian Peredvizhniki predecessors (see Artists of the 1800s list for a few of these) in creating images that seem alive with light and color. His paintings are very detailed, but quiet, and capture scenes from everyday life. (His “Nativity” is included in my Advent Art Devotions Volume I.)

Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky, “Moscow. Red Square,” 1916

Nationality: Russian
Movement: Bauhaus/Expressionism/Abstract

Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) lived during a time of many changes in the art world, and the various styles he experimented with reflect that evolution. He went from somewhat more traditional styles that reflected Impressionism to much more abstract styles later in his life.

Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse, “The Dessert: Harmony in Red,”
(used under fair use doctrine)

Nationality: French
Movement: Fauvism/Modernism/Neo-Impressionism/Primitivism

Henri Matisse (1869-1954) is another artist who went through several different art movements throughout his career. His work is generally characterized by bright colors and bold shapes.

Xavier Martinez

Xavier Martinez, “Afternoon in Piedmont,” ca. 1980

Nationality: Mexican (active in the United States)
Movement: Tonalism

Xavier Martinez (1869-1943) was born in Guadalajara, Mexico where he received his early artistic training. After his mother died, he moved to the United States with his adoptive family and explored the tonalist style. His paintings are muted and evoke a sense of calm.

Maxfield Parrish

Maxfield Parrish, “Ecstacy,” 1929
(used under fair use doctrine)

Nationality: American
Movement: Symbolism

Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966) is grouped into the Symbolist movement, but his style and subject matter were unique to him and his paintings are highly recognizable. Every time I see a sunset with peach and purple clouds in the sky, he comes to mind. His paintings evoke classical scenes and are very beautiful.

Emily Carr

Emily Carr, “The Indian Church,” 1929

Nationality: American
Movement: Sculpture

Emily Carr (1871-1945) was a female Canadian artist who explored different subjects at length throughout her life. She captured the last vestiges of the First Nations people around the island of Vancouver early in her career and then later shifted her focus to the landscape and forests of that area. She was a unique woman with a unique style.

Olowe of Ise

Olowe of Ise, Palace Door Panels and Lintel, ca. 1910-1914

Nationality: Yoruba (Nigerian)
Movement: Sculpture (Oju-ona)

Olowe of Ise (ca. 1873 – ca. 1938) is recognized as a key figure in the art of Yorubaland. He was highly skilled in sculpture and caught the attention of his king for whom he made many pieces. His work is a beautiful example of the aesthetics of the Yoruba people.

Hiroshi Yoshida

Hiroshi Yoshida, “Kumoi Cherry Trees,” 1920

Nationality: Japanese
Movement: Taishō period/Shōwa period (Shin-Hanga)

Hiroshi Yoshida (1876-1950) Japanese artist who continued the practice of woodblock painting even after it grew less popular in Japan, though he gave his prints more depth and dimensionality than his predecessors. He traveled widely and his work can be seen outside of Japan as well.

Anna Hyatt Huntington

Anna Hyatt Huntington, “Joan of Arc,” 1915
(Photo by Jim Henderson)

Nationality: American
Movement: Sculpture

Anna Hyatt Huntington (1876-1973) is known for her beautiful and usually dramatic sculptures. As a female sculptor in the early part of the 19th century, she faced a lot of prejudice, but the quality of her work and the sheer number of pieces she created testify to her talent and resilience.

Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller

Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller, “Danse Macabre,” 1914

Nationality: American
Movement: Harlem Renaissance

Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller (1877-1968) was another sculptress who faced tremendous prejudice as she was not only a woman but also African-American. Her work includes many pieces inspired by African-American experiences in the United States.

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso, “The Soup,” 1902

Nationality: Spanish
Movement: Cubism

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) is one of the most well-known names of 20th-century art and is the first artist who comes to mind when the topic of Cubism is discussed. He also explored other styles, represented by the painting above, which would be interesting to contrast during picture study.

Edward Hopper

Edward Hopper, “Nighthawks,” 1942

Nationality: American
Movement: Realism

Edward Hopper (1882-1967) captured moments with his paintbrush that have the feeling of photographs. His work uses bold colors to represent scenes of everyday life in America in the first half of the 20th century, especially between World War I and World War II.

Georges Braque

Georges Braque, “Fruit Dish,” 1908-09

Nationality: French
Movement: FAUVISM/Cubism

Georges Braque (1882-1963), along with Pablo Picasso, was another pioneer in the Cubist movement, though his early work, which is bright and colorful, demonstrates his beginnings in Fauvism. His later work reflects his experimentation with Cubism in its various forms and is more abstract.

Georgia O’Keeffe

Georgia O’Keeffe, “My Front Yard, Summer, 1941,” 1941

Nationality: American
Movement: Precisionism

Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) is so closely aligned with the American southwest that a part of New Mexico is referred to as “O’Keeffe Country.” Her art is somewhat abstract and offers an interesting contrast to more classic styles.

Laura Wheeler Waring

Laura Wheeler Waring, “Anna Washington Derry,” 1927

Nationality: American
Movement: Harlem Renaissance

Laura Wheeler Waring (1887-1948) was an African-American painter known for her portraits, particularly those of other African Americans. She was especially gifted in using color and texture in her paintings.

Thomas Hart Benton

Thomas Hart Benton, “Cradling Wheat,” 1938
(used under fair use doctrine)

Nationality: American
Movement: American Realism/Regionalism/Synchromism

Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975) is considered part of the American realism/regionalism movements, but his art is distinct. His figures are almost sculptural in their form, and he tends to condense scenes into a small space to increase the emotions they evoke.

Grant Wood

Grant Wood, “American Gothic,” 1930

Nationality: American
Movement: American Realism/Regionalism

Grant Wood (1891-1942) painted one of the most iconic images in American history. Ironically, the one painting for which he is most well-known is in a different style than the majority of his other pieces, which would be an interesting detail to explore.

Norman Rockwell

Norman Rockwell, “Freedom from Want,” ca. 1941-1945

Nationality: American
Movement: American Realism/Regionalism

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) is so often associated with Americana that his paintings are a visual timeline of American history from his early, more quaint work from the early part of the 20th century to his more social and historical work of the 1960s. He was very talented and produced highly detailed work.

Xu Beihong

Xu Beihong, “Portrait of Rabindranath Tagore,” Date Unknown

Nationality: Chinese
Movement: American Realism/Regionalism

Xu Beihong (1895-1953) was a Chinese artist who painted in both more traditional Chinese styles as well as western styles. His art includes scenes from nature as well as animals, especially birds and horses.

Aaron Douglas

Aaron Douglas, “Harriet Tubman,” 1931

Nationality: American
Movement: Harlem Renaissance

Aaron Douglas (1899-1979) was an African-American painter who created many scenes highlighting the history and struggle of Black Americans. While inspired by other movements like Cubism, I think Douglas’s style is very unique, simple in its execution, but profound in its statements.

Andrew Wyeth

Andrew Wyeth, “Christina’s World,” 1948
(used under fair use doctrine)

Nationality: American
Movement: American Realism/Regionalism

Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009) was the son of illustrator N.C. Wyeth. Hints of his father’s style can be seen in his work, but his style was unique, and his subject matter was more biographical.

Richard Estes

Richard Estes, “Telephone Booths,” 1968
(used under fair use doctrine)

Nationality: American
Movement: hyper-realism/Photorealism

Richard Estes (b. 1932) is part of the hyper-realism (or photorealism) movement, and his paintings are difficult to tell apart from photographs. He focuses particularly on urban scenes, but his more recent work has ventured into different parts of the world.

Of course there are many, many other artists who could be added to this list, especially more recent ones. These 25, however, are a good place to start! Who would you add?

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  1. This has been an excellent discovery! I love that the art is organized by centuries. Will you expand your work to include the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece and Rome as well as 1st century-1300s art? It would be wonderful to be able to add to our timeline as we study those time periods as well. And if not, do you know of a good resource to find similar resources for picture studies from those time periods? Thank yoi!

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