Dutch painter Piet Mondrian is remembered for pioneering what is known as 20th-century abstract art. He co-founded the De Stijl art movement with Theo van Doesburg and gave rise to Neoplasticism. His art was influenced by Cubism. Many of his paintings consist of geometric shapes in particular sets of colors.
Considered part of the New York school of painters of the 1940s, Mark Rothko was best known for his signature color field paintings, consisting of vertically set rectangular patches of color. A significant figure of the Abstract Expressionist movement, he also experimented with murals and mythological themes.
German visual artist Gerhard Richter started out as a Social Realist painter and was later exposed to avant-garde art. He mastered the art of painting scenes collected from newspapers and magazines, including terrorists and serial killer victims. He later also worked on stained-glass design and abstract art.
It is believed Joseph Beuys was rescued by Tartars when his air force plane broke down in Crimea during World War II. He later gained fame as an avant-garde sculptor and artist and part of the group Fluxus. His works used unconventional media, with some even including staged actions.
Arshile Gorky, a powerful Armenian-American painter of 20th century, is counted among founding fathers of abstract expressionism. His experience, suffering and loss during Armenian genocide strongly influenced his development as an artist. With notable works like Landscape in the Manner of Cézanne and Nighttime, Enigma, Nostalgia, Gorky emerged as one of the major artists whose works defined American abstract expressionism.
Swiss-French artist Sophie Taeuber-Arp initially studied textile design and later began creating multimedia art called Duo-Collages, along with her husband, German-French abstract artist Jean Arp. Apart from teaching at an art and craft school, the Dadaist had also used dance, painting, and sculpture to showcase her artistic talent.
American abstract expressionist painter, printmaker and editor Robert Motherwell of the New York School is counted among the most articulate spokesmen of abstract expressionism and founders of the art movement. Notable works of Motherwell, who was known for exploring political, philosophical and literary themes, include the Elegy to the Spanish Republic series that consists of impressive black and white paintings.
Though a qualified psychologist, Milo Moire is more popular as a porn actor and a performance artist who uses the female form for her art pieces. From creating abstract art by throwing out paint-filled eggs from her vagina, to walking around cities, asking passers-by to touch her breasts, she has done it all.
Franz Kline of the New York School is counted among the most significant artists of the Abstract Expressionist movement. Labelled as an action painter, Kline’s etched a niche with his seemingly spontaneous and intense style that focused more on actual brushstrokes and use of canvas instead on figures or imagery as exemplified in his masterpiece, Number 2 (1954).
One of the pioneering figures of the Dutch art movement De Stijl, or The Style, Theo van Doesburg stressed on the importance of simplified and geometric visual arts. The son of a photographer, he grew up to create scores of abstract paintings and designed aesthetic room décor and furniture, too.
Swiss expressionist painter Johannes Itten developed his own color theories. Before joining the German art school Bauhaus, he had received elementary school teachers’ training. He often skipped correcting his students’ mistakes, fearing it might spoil their creative impulse. He followed the neo-Zoroastrian fire cult Mazdaznan and practiced meditation and vegetarianism.
Jean Arp was born in Strasbourg, to a German father and a French mother. After studying art in Paris and Switzerland, he co-created The Modern Alliance and participated in the Dada and Abstraction-Création movements. An avant-garde painter and sculptor, he also experimented with media such as embroidery.
Mostly hailed as an influential art teacher, Hans Hofmann was also a great artist and a pioneer in the use of improvisatory techniques. Born in Germany, he migrated to USA after Nazis came to power. There he opened his own school and moving away from Expressionistic landscapes developed totally an abstract manner, paving the way for Abstract Expressionism.
Elaine de Kooning, an accomplished landscape and portrait artist, remained active in Abstract Expressionist and Figurative Expressionist movements during post-Second World War era. Elaine admired artwork of Dutch-American abstract expressionist artist Willem de Kooning, her future husband, and honed her skills under his tutelage. Figure served as subject of representational portraiture for Elaine, who was perhaps best-known for her portraits.
Born to journalist parents, who were both part of the Cuban intellectual sphere, Carmen Herrera received elite art education in Paris. The political unrest in Cuba forced her to leave her architecture studies incomplete and move to the U.S. She later established herself as a master painter of abstract art.
Pierre Soulages is a French painter, sculptor, and engraver. His works have influenced several prominent personalities like François Hollande, who called him the greatest living artist in the world, in 2014. Over the course of his illustrious career, Pierre Soulages has won several prestigious awards like Carnegie Prize, Rembrandt Award, and the Austrian Decoration for Science and Art.
Nicolas de Stael was a Russian-born French painter best remembered for his highly abstract landscape painting. He traveled throughout Europe, living and working in places like Paris. Nicolas de Stael suffered from depression, insomnia, and exhaustion throughout his career. He committed suicide by jumping off from his studio terrace at the age of 41.
Hungarian-born French artist Simon Hantaï is remembered for his kaleidoscopic abstract paintings and pioneered the pliage technique of creating art with folded canvases. He studied art in Budapest and then moved to France. His best-known works include the Meuns series, Tabulas, and Laissées. He became mostly a recluse after the 1982 Venice Biennale.
French painter Gaston Duchamp, known by his pseudonym, Jacques Villon, is remembered for his Cubist and abstract paintings. Initially a law student, he quit law and switched to art soon. He worked making prints and posters for a decade. He later created masterpieces displaying his sense of colors and geometry.
Canadian painter Paul-Émile Borduas is best remembered as a founder-member of the radical abstract group Les Automatistes, which focused on automatism, influenced by surrealism. Initially a church decorator in Montreal, he later studied art in Paris. He was later ostracized for releasing the social critique Refus Global.
American abstract expressionist painter Paul Jenkins, who at times called himself "an abstract phenomenist", initially created his works in oil on canvas and later moved away to acrylic. He started using an ivory knife as a main tool in creating his artwork. Besides paintings, Jenkins also created solid and unique sculptures made out of glass, limestone, steel and bronze.
Modern American artist Stanton Macdonald-Wright is best-known for co-founding the Synchromism art-movement with fellow American artist Morgan Russell in 1912, while the two were studying in Paris. They developed it with the belief that painting was a practice similar to music and even though it was short-lived, Synchromism emerged as the first American avant-garde art movement that garnered international attention.
Manuel Felguérez was a Mexican artist whose works are still being displayed across Mexico. One of the most important members of the Generación de la Ruptura, Felguérez was honored with the prestigious Premio Nacional de Artes in 1988. A multi-talented person, Felguérez was also a sculptor and teacher; he worked as a professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
French painter Jean Hélion began his artistic career as an abstract painter but later switched to figurative painting. An architect, he began painting in his spare time and soon co-founded an association of abstract painters, Abstraction-Création. He fought for the French army in World War II and also penned a memoir in captivity.
While she initially focused on Abstract Expressionism, American painter Jane Freilicher later switched her focus to still lifes, especially of flowers. Known as a pioneer of painterly realism, she is known for her iconic works such as Bouquets. She was part of the New York School and the Representational movement.
Vasudeo S. Gaitonde is remembered as one of the most significant modern abstract painters from India. The Padma Shri winner was born to working-class Goan parents in Nagpur. He won an art scholarship at 19 and never looked back. His works are said to have been influenced by calligraphy.