Famous American Artists & Painters

For a layman, alien to the world of art, there barely exists any difference between a million-dollar Picasso and finger paintings of an inebriated gorilla. Blame it on the elites who have made art their exclusive domain and don’t mind coughing up fortunes on photos of dead crows. No wonder, art now flourishes solely in wealthy cultures. Having said that, an appreciator of aesthetics and art cannot ignore the incredible artistic achievements of painters who have wowed the world with their unbelievable, eye-popping paintings. From sculptures bursting out of paintings to incredibly intricate non-photo shopped scenes, the world of art has evolved extensively since Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” or Picasso’s “Guemica”. Sadly not too many people know about such enterprising artistes today. Now only if your thought that great art died with the Dalis and the Goghs, know that the contemporary world is replete with many such incredible artistes who have left a last impression on world’s canvass. Let us explore the biography, trivia and facts about some such famous American painters.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol
18
Famous As: Artist, Director
Birthdate: August 6, 1928
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: February 22, 1987

Andy Warhol was an artist and filmmaker who played a key role in the visual art movement. Thanks to his extensive body of work, he has been the subject of various films, books, and retrospective exhibitions. Described as the bellwether of the art market, some of Warhol's works are among the most expensive paintings ever sold.

 2 Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat
13
Famous As: Artist
Birthdate: December 22, 1960
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: August 12, 1988

Jean-Michel Basquiat was an American artist whose legacy has had an influence upon fashion, film, music, and literature. He serves as an inspiration to street artists as he started off as one, painting graffiti on buildings. After his death, at the age of 27, the value of his work has increased; in 2017, one of his paintings sold for a record $110.5 million.

 3 Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock
12
Famous As: Painter
Birthdate: January 28, 1912
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Cody, Wyoming, United States
Died: August 11, 1956
Abstract Expressionist artist Jackson Pollock pioneered the drip technique or action painting, which involved moving his whole body to paint on a horizontal surface. Unfortunately, he struggled with alcoholism and died in a car accident, while drunk driving. He inspired a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography and the 2000 film Pollock.

 4 Bob Ross

Bob Ross
14
Famous As: Painter
Birthdate: October 29, 1942
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Daytona Beach, Florida, United States
Died: July 4, 1995

Painter, art instructor, and television host, Bob Ross, gained international fame as the creator and host of the instructional TV show, The Joy of Painting. He served in the United States Air Force for several years before embarking on a career as a painter. He had a deep love for animals and cared for several injured squirrels, armadillos, and snakes.

 5 Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko
7
Famous As: Painter
Birthdate: September 25, 1903
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Latvia
Died: February 25, 1970

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.

 6 Matthew Gray Gubler

Matthew Gray Gubler
22
Famous As: Actor, Director, Model, Painter
Birthdate: March 9, 1980
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Las Vegas

American actor, Matthew Gray Gubler, is best known for playing the character of Dr Spencer Reid in the popular and acclaimed television series Criminal Minds. He has also acted in films like 500 Days of Summer, Suburban Gothic and How to Be a Serial Killer. He won a Daytime Emmy Award for his role in the television series, The Beauty Inside.

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 7 Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss
4
Famous As: Children's Author And Illustrator
Birthdate: March 2, 1904
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States
Died: September 24, 1991

Dr. Seuss was an American children's author, illustrator, and political cartoonist. He is credited with writing some of the most famous children's books ever, including The Cat in the Hat. His works were translated into over 20 languages and sold more than 600 million copies by the time of his death. Many of his creations were adapted into animated cartoons.

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 8 Edward Hopper

Edward Hopper
6
Famous As: Realist painter
Birthdate: July 22, 1882
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Upper Nyack, New York, United States
Died: May 15, 1967

 9 Anthony Quinn

Anthony Quinn
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: April 21, 1915
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Chihuahua, Mexico
Died: June 3, 2001
Mexican-American actor Anthony Quinn is best remembered for his Academy Award-winning roles in Viva Zapata! and Lust for Life. He also delivered stellar performances in the films Zorba the Greek, Wild Is the Wind, and The Guns of Navarone. He had exhibited his artwork and also written two memoirs.

 10 Jack Kirby

Jack Kirby
4
Famous As: Comic Book Artist
Birthdate: August 28, 1917
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: February 6, 1994
Jacob Kurtzberg, or Jack Kirby, initially published comics under various other pseudonyms, such as "Jack Curtiss" and "Curt Davis." He worked with Marvel, where he co-created characters such as The Fantastic Four and the X-Men, along with Stan Lee. He then joined DC, where he created the Fourth World Saga

 11 Grace Slick

Grace Slick
5
Famous As: Artist, Musician
Birthdate: October 30, 1939
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Highland Park, Illinois, United States

Grace Slick is a retired singer-songwriter. Slick played an important role in the psychedelic music scene that flourished in San Francisco during the mid-1960s. One of the earliest female rock stars, Slick played a key role in the development of rock music during the 1960s. She was named among the Greatest Women of Rock N Roll by VH1 in 1999.

 12 Kim Novak

Kim Novak
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: February 13, 1933
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Kim Novak is best known as Madeleine Elster/Judy Barton from Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo. The two-time Golden Globe-winning actor also starred in movies such as The Mirror Crack'd and The Man with the Golden Arm, and the series Falcon Crest. She quit acting after an unpleasant experience while shooting for Liebestraum.

 13 Fred Gwynne

Fred Gwynne
5
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: June 30, 1926
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA
Died: July 2, 1993

Best known for his towering height, Fred Gwynne was the perfect choice for the role of Herman Munster in The Munsters. The actor and singer was a Harvard alumnus. He excelled in swimming and had also served the U.S. Navy. He later also wrote and illustrated popular children’s books.

 14 Hervé Villechaize

Hervé Villechaize
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: April 23, 1943
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 4, 1993

French-American actor Hervé Villechaize is best remembered for playing the evil henchman in the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun. Born with dwarfism, he was bullied at school for his condition. After initially working as an artist, painter and photographer, he ventured into acting. He was popular and much loved by the audience.

 15 Georgia O'Keeffe

Georgia O'Keeffe
10
Famous As: Painter
Birthdate: November 15, 1887
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, United States
Died: March 6, 1986
Artist Georgia O'Keeffe enriched American modernism and precisionism with her artwork, mostly water color and charcoal paintings. She was the first female artist to have a retrospective at New York’s MOMA. Her paintings focused on the cityscapes and landscapes of New York and New Mexico, and abstract flowers.

 16 Dana Carvey

Dana Carvey
5
Famous As: Comedian
Birthdate: June 2, 1955
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Missoula, Montana, United States

Comedian Dana Carvey initially gained fame with his Emmy-winning stint on Saturday Night Live. He has also appeared in films such as Tough Guys and Opportunity Knocks. He was seen as Garth Algar in Wayne’s World and its sequel, and also voiced Dana in Hotel Transylvania 2.

 17 Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter who released his debut solo album, Heartbreaker, to critical acclaim
Birthdate: November 5, 1974
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Jacksonville, North Carolina, United States

 18 Norman Rockwell

Norman Rockwell
8
Famous As: Painter & Illustrator
Birthdate: February 3, 1894
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: November 8, 1978

Painter and illustrator Norman Rockwell became famous for the cover illustrations of everyday life he created for The Saturday Evening Post. He was associated with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) for over six decades and produced covers for their publications and calendars. A prolific artist, he made more than 4,000 original works in his lifetime.

 19 Kate Capshaw

Kate Capshaw
5
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: November 3, 1953
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Fort Worth, Texas, United States
Kate Capshaw, best known as Willie Scott from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, has also starred in projects such as Dreamscape, Black Rain, and The Love Letter. She converted to Judaism before her marriage to director Steven Spielberg. She made major contributions to Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign.

 20 Teller

Teller
4
Famous As: Magician and illusionist
Birthdate: February 14, 1948
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

 21 Lauren Lapkus

Lauren Lapkus
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: September 6, 1985
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, USA

 22 Margaret Keane

Margaret Keane
5
Famous As: Painter
Birthdate: September 15, 1927
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Nashville, Tennessee

 23 Lance Henriksen

Lance Henriksen
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: May 5, 1940
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Manhattan, New York, United States
Lance Henriksen is best known as Bishop Weyland from the Aliens franchise and as Ed Harley from the horror film Pumpkinhead and its TV movie versions. He has also voiced video-game characters such as Steven Hackett in the Mass Effect series. He is a clay and mural artist, too.

 24 Melissa Villaseñor

Melissa Villaseñor
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: October 9, 1987
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Whittier, California, USA

 25 Burt Young

Burt Young
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: April 30, 1940
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA

Best known for his rough character roles and his Academy Award-nominated portrayal of Paulie Pennino in the Rocky film franchise, actor Burt Young had been a boxer during his time in the Marine Corps. He has also contributed to book covers as an illustrator and penned screenplays and the novel Endings.

 26 Tom Franco

Tom Franco
6
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: April 14, 1980
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Palo Alto, California, United States

Tom Franco is an American artist and actor. He is credited with founding the Firehouse Art Collective, an art gallery in Berkeley, California. The younger brother of actor and filmmaker, James Franco, Tom Franco followed in the footsteps of his brother to become an actor before exploring his skills as an artist.

 27 Gloria Vanderbilt

Gloria Vanderbilt
9
Famous As: Artist and Fashion Designer Best Remembered for her Custody Battle
Birthdate: February 20, 1924
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Manhattan, New York, United States
Died: June 17, 2019

Gloria Vanderbilt was an American fashion designer, actress, author, and socialite. As a child, she was subjected to a child custody trial, which the press named trial of the century due to its high-profile nature. As a designer, Vanderbilt is credited with developing and popularizing designer blue jeans. She also launched a line of household goods and perfumes.

 28 Steve Ditko

Steve Ditko
4
Famous As: Comic book artist who co-created The Amazing Spider-Man and Doctor Strange comics, as well as The Creeper
Birthdate: November 2, 1927
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Johnstown, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: June 29, 2018

Steve Ditko was a writer and comics artist. He is credited with co-creating popular Marvel Comics superheroes like Doctor Strange and Spider-Man. Ditko is also credited with co-creating Captain Atom, a character that appears in DC Comics. Ditko received several awards including many Alley Awards. In 1994, he was inducted into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame.

 29 Tony Dow

Tony Dow
4
Famous As: Film Producer
Birthdate: April 13, 1945
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States
Tony Dow is best known as Wally Cleaver from the long-running sitcom Leave It to Beaver and its sequel. He also created abstract bronze sculptures and was a Junior Olympics diving champion. He has also worked as a producer, director, visual effects supervisor, and writer.

 30 Heather McCartney

Heather McCartney
4
Famous As: Artist, Potter
Birthdate: December 31, 1962
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Tucson, Arizona, United States

 31 Thomas Kinkade

Thomas Kinkade
5
Famous As: Painter
Birthdate: January 19, 1958
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Sacramento, California, United States
Died: April 6, 2012

Painter Thomas Kinkade is remembered for his realistic and idyllic themes. He gained fame by selling printed copies of his art through the Thomas Kinkade Company. He called himself the "Painter of Light” and copyrighted the phrase, too. The movie Thomas Kinkade's Christmas Cottage was based on his life.

 32 Alexander Calder

Alexander Calder
6
Famous As: Sculptor, Painter
Birthdate: July 22, 1898
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Lawnton
Died: November 11, 1976

Alexander Calder was an American sculptor best remembered for his innovative kinetic sculptures designed to use either motor, air currents, or other forces of nature. A multi-talented personality, Calder was also known for his paintings, miniatures, prints, jewelry design, theater set design, political posters, and tapestries and rugs. In 1977, he was honored with the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom.

 33 Jay Pharoah

Jay Pharoah
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: October 14, 1987
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Chesapeake, Virginia, United States

 34 David Choe

David Choe
4
Famous As: Street artist
Birthdate: April 21, 1976
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

 35 Samuel Morse

Samuel Morse
4
Famous As: Inventor of Morse Code, Painter
Birthdate: April 27, 1791
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Charlestown, Massachusetts, United States
Died: April 2, 1872

 36 Grant Wood

Grant Wood
4
Famous As: Former painter particularly well known for American Gothic (1930), which has become an iconic example of early 20th-century American art
Birthdate: February 13, 1891
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Anamosa, Iowa, United States
Died: February 12, 1942

 37 Jasper Johns

Jasper Johns
6
Famous As: Painter, Sculptor, Costume designer
Birthdate: May 15, 1930
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Augusta

Presidential Medal-winning artist Jasper Johns is best known for his contribution to the pop art movement. His paintings revolve around subjects such as flags, numbers, and letters, whereas he has also gained fame for his cast sculpture art such as Painted Bronze. He also once experimented by attaching strings to his art.

 38 Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein
12
Famous As: Painter, Sculptor
Birthdate: October 27, 1923
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Died: September 29, 1997

 39 Winslow Homer

Winslow Homer
5
Famous As: Painter
Birthdate: February 24, 1836
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: September 29, 1910

 40 Ross Marquand

Ross Marquand
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: August 22, 1981
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Fort Collins, Colorado, USA

 41 Swizz Beatz

Swizz Beatz
9
Famous As: Record producer, Entrepreneur, Painter, Rapper, Singer, Businessperson, Songwriter
Birthdate: September 13, 1978
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New York City

 42 Daniel Stern

Daniel Stern
8
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: August 28, 1957
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bethesda, Maryland, United States U.S.

American actor, artist, director, and screenwriter Daniel Stern is best-recognised for playing the tall and dim-witted thief Marv Murchins in first two films of the Home Alone franchise. He is also noted for his role in the film City Slickers and its sequel; voice-role in the TV series Dilbert; and for directing the sports-comedy film Rookie of the Year.

 43 John Singer Sargent

John Singer Sargent
4
Famous As: Artist
Birthdate: January 12, 1856
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Florence, Italy
Died: April 14, 1925

John Singer Sargent, an artist active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, was considered the "leading portrait painter of his generation." Prolific in his output, he created more than 2,000 watercolors and around 900 oil paintings. He also made numerous sketches and charcoal drawings. He painted with remarkable technical acumen and was internationally known for his expertise.   

 44 Kristin Nelson

Kristin Nelson
5
Famous As: Painter
Birthdate: June 25, 1945
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Burbank, California, United States
Died: April 27, 2018
Kristin Nelson is remembered for her appearances in films such as The Resurrection of Broncho Billy. She was married to actor/musician Ricky Nelson but later got involved in a bitter custody battle involving their fourth son, Sam. A primitive painter, too, she had published an autobiography interspersed with her paintings. 

 45 Anne-Marie Johnson

Anne-Marie Johnson
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: July 18, 1960
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

 46 Dale Chihuly

Dale Chihuly
4
Famous As: Glass Artist
Birthdate: September 20, 1941
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Tacoma, Washington, United States

 47 Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons
5
Famous As: Sculptor, Painter
Birthdate: January 21, 1955
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: York

Jeff Koons is an American artist best known for his versatility and work that deals with popular culture. Koons is also known for his sculptures, such as large balloon animals made using stainless steel to achieve mirror-finish surfaces. One of the most successful artists of his generation, Koons has produced works that have earned a couple of record auction prices.

 48 Will Sampson

Will Sampson
4
Famous As: Painter
Birthdate: September 27, 1933
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Okmulgee, Oklahoma, USA
Died: June 3, 1987

 49 Ric Ocasek

Ric Ocasek
4
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: March 23, 1944
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, USA

 50 Zeena Schreck

Zeena Schreck
4
Famous As: Visual and musical artist
Birthdate: November 19, 1963
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: San Francisco, California, United States