Albrecht Durer was a German painter, theorist, and printmaker of the German Renaissance. During his 20s, Durer established his reputation as a popular printmaker across Europe, thanks to his high-quality woodcut prints. His popularity enabled him to work with major Italian artists like Leonardo da Vinci, Giovanni Bellini, and Raphael. Albrecht Durer also influenced generations of artists, especially in printmaking.
German/New Zealand visual artist Sandro Kopp is based in Scotland and explores “mediated presence.” His work merges new-age digital elements with classical painting. He is also known as the boyfriend of Academy Award-winning actor Tilda Swinton. His works have been exhibited all across the globe, including France and Italy.
Max Ernst was a German painter, graphic artist, sculptor, and poet. A pioneer of the Dada movement, Ernst played an important role in popularizing surrealism during the early-20th century. He is also credited with inventing a couple of techniques, namely frottage and grattage. In 2005, the Max Ernst Museum was opened in his honor in Brühl, Germany.
Hans Holbein the Younger was a German printmaker and painter. Regarded as one of the 16th century's greatest portraitists, Holbein was also renowned for producing Reformation propaganda, satire, and religious art. Many of his portraits are now considered cultural icons. Holbein is also credited with contributing immensely to the evolution of book design.
German-born Swiss poet, novelist, and painter Hermann Hesse received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1946. He explored individuals’ search for authenticity, self-knowledge, and spirituality in his works. An intense and headstrong person from childhood, he developed an early interest in reading. He started writing as a young man and became an influential author in the German-speaking world.
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.
10 Otto Dix
German painter, engraver and printmaker Otto Dix, counted among the most significant artists of Neue Sachlichkeit, is noted for his harsh and brutal depictions of war and severe situation of German society during the Weimar Republic. Some of his paintings, exhibited in Otto Dix House, which showcases materials on his life and work, include Selbstbildnis als Rauchern and Meine Freundin Elis.
E. T. A. Hoffmann was a German author, jurist, artist, composer, and music critic. His stories served as an inspiration and laid the foundation for The Tales of Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach. The Nutcracker by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is also based on Hoffmann's The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Hoffmann is among the most influential authors of the Romantic Movement.
German film and stage actor, director, painter and author Armin Mueller-Stahl is best-known for playing the abusive father of pianist David Helfgott in the 1996 Australian biographical drama film Shine. The role earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He also featured in other films like Utz and made his directorial debut with Conversation with the Beast.
Known as the Nazi Master Negotiator, Hanns Scharff was famous for his unusual method of extracting information out of prisoners without the use of violence. Initially part of his family textile business, he had also mastered the art of sales. He later moved to the US and became a mosaic artisan.
Noted for series like Weavers’ Revolt and Peasants’ War, sculptor and graphic artist, Käthe Kollwitz, came in contact with the urban poor when she moved into Berlin's working class area. Touched by their plight, she soon started portraying them through her etchings, lithographs, woodcuts, and drawings, quickly becoming a powerful advocate for those suffering from social injustice, war, and inhumanity.
Landscape painter Albert Bierstadt immortalized the natural attractions of the American West, such as the Rocky Mountains, in his works. One of the finest painters of the Hudson River school, he specialized in paintings that showcased bright lighting, or luminism, and created over 500 paintings throughout his career.
16 Franz Marc
Best known as one of the founders of the German Expressionist group The Blue Rider, German painter Franz Marc mostly depicted animals through his works. The Tower of Blue Horses and Yellow Cow are two of his notable works. Children and the mentally disabled also appeared as his subjects.
German actress, dancer, painter, and singer Christiane Kubrick, wife of accomplished filmmaker Stanley Kubrick, thrived as a painter showcasing a passion for floral settings and still life paintings. She featured in films like Paths of Glory and Love Is Just a Fairytale, while her works featured in two hit films of Stanley, namely A Clockwork Orange and Eyes Wide Shut.
German painter and sculptor Anselm Kiefer, counted among leading figures of the Neo-Expressionist art movement of the late 20th century, is noted for his works like The Hierarchy of Angels (painting), The Secret Life of Plants (sculpture) and Grane (woodcut). Themes of Kiefer were often influenced by the spiritual concepts of Kabbalah, horror of the Holocaust and poems of Paul Celan.
One of the pioneers of Expressionism, German painter Ernst Ludwig Kirchner co-established the artists’ group Die Brücke, or The Bridge. His iconic works such as Girl under Japanese Umbrella and Street, Berlin displayed psychological and erotic themes. Declared a "degenerate" by the Nazis, he later committed suicide.
Part of the Camden Town Group of painters, who showcased both Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, German-born British painter Walter Sickert liked painting both people and scenes. His work Jack the Ripper's Bedroom gave rise to speculations that he could have been either the killer or his accomplice.
Known as the Rolling Stones muse, for her affairs with at least two of the iconic rock band’s members, Anita Pallenberg was an actor-model. The Rolling Stones tracks such as You Got The Silver and Angie were inspired by her. She had also studied fashion designing after recovering from drug addiction.
German painter and sculptor Oskar Schlemmer had gained fame both for his paintings and for his choreographed avant-garde ballet productions such as Triadisches Ballett. He was a major influence behind bringing modern art exhibitions to the Stuttgart Academy of Fine Art. He had also served in World War I.
25 Traudl Junge
After being rejected by a dance school, Traudl Junge ditched her plan of becoming a ballerina and mastered typing instead. She later served as Adolf Hitler’s typist and was the youngest of his secretaries. After staying silent for years, she eventually revealed her experience to Austrian filmmaker Andre Heller.
Professionally known as Ulay, German artist Frank Uwe Laysiepen began his career in Amsterdam as a photographer for Polaroid, clicking photos across Europe and USA. Later he also took up performing arts, collaborating with his then-companion Marina Abramović, creating numerous pieces, including the Relation Series. After their breakup, he continued with his performing art while concurrently with experimenting with his camera.
27 Hannah Höch
Apart from being the only female member of the Berlin Dada group, German artist Hannah Höch was also the pioneer of the photomontage form of art. Her works explored the sexually and financially independent New Woman and challenged gender stereotypes. She also experimented with textiles and patterns.
28 Heinz Linge
Heinz Linge went from being a bricklayer to a Schutzstaffel official. He joined Adolf Hitler’s household staff, as his valet. Stationed at the Führerbunker with Hitler during the fall of the Nazis, he was eventually tasked with cremating Hitler’s body. Captured by the Red Army, he later penned a memoir.
German artist and poet Kurt Schwitters, known for collage, artist's book, installation, sculpture and poetry, is noted for his collages and relief-constructions. Schwitters planned a Dada section in Hanover and the Merz art-style traces back to him, which he found by chance while forming a collage with the German word Kommerz. One of his notable works is Das Undbild, 1919.
30 Eva Hesse
Born in Germany, Eva Hesse moved with her family to England, and then to the U.S., in a bid to escape the Nazi regime. Her death due to brain tumor at age 34 cut short her dynamic career. A sculptor and painter, she experimented with media such latex, metal, and mesh.
Known for his blatant use of digital manipulation and unique compositional strategies, Andreas Gursky is one of the most pricey, yet bestselling photographers of our time, with his best known work, Rhein II, fetching $4.3 million in 2011. The first to produce large prints, measuring 6 × 8 feet or more, he also taught fine arts at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf.
32 George Grosz
German Expressionist artist George Grosz, later a naturalized US citizen, is most noted for his caricatural drawings and paintings of Berlin life. A leading member of the Berlin Dada and New Objectivity groups during the Weimar Republic, Grosz later departed from his earlier style and subjects and taught at the Art Students League of New York for several years.
German art-forger and artist Wolfgang Beltracchi gained notoriety for his involvement in an international art scam where he forged paintings of famous artists like Max Ernst, Fernand Léger, Heinrich Campendonk, and Kees van Dongen and sold them to make profits that surpassed $100m. Beltracchi and his wife, Helene, were found guilty and were given six-year and four-year prison terms respectively.
34 Max Beckmann
Max Beckmann was a German painter, sculptor, draftsman, printmaker, and writer. Even though scholars classify him as an Expressionist artist, he personally never identified as one. He became involved with the New Objectivity movement in the 1920s. He taught at the St. Louis School of Fine Arts at Washington University in his last years.
Wolfgang Tillmans is a German photographer best known for his diverse body of work. A highly acclaimed photographer, Tillmans has won many awards, such as the Hasselblad Award. In 2000, Wolfgang Tillmans became the first photographer and the first non-British person to be honored with the prestigious Turner Prize.
36 Josef Albers
German socialite and philanthropist Gloria, Princess of Thurn and Taxis, or Princess TNT, had met her husband, Prince Johannes, when she was 19 and he was 53. Following his death, she was faced with a $500 million debt, sold off her riches, and became a Catholic activist.
Karl Blossfeldt was a German photographer, artist, sculptor, and teacher. He is best remembered for his work Urformen der Kunst, a collection of close-up photos of animals and plants. The book became highly influential and Blossfeldt's works were used as teaching tools in Berlin. Blossfeldt also served as a professor at the United State Schools for Fine and Applied Art.
German Jewish artist Charlotte Salomon was killed along with her unborn child by the Nazis at Auschwitz when she was barely 26. Her haunting memoir, Life? or Theater?, provides a graphic portrayal of her life through innovative transparencies and signature images. Its subtitle, singspiel, signifies it was a light opera.
40 Hans Memling
Hans Memling was a 15th-century painter who worked in the tradition of Early Netherlandish painting. He trained in the Brussels workshop of prominent painter Rogier van der Weyden. With time, he became one of the leading artists in the region and ran a large workshop. He was extremely successful and died a wealthy man.
41 Hans Hofmann
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.
Born to a farmer in Germany’s Black Forest, Franz Xaver Winterhalter was initially trained as a lithographer. The nineteenth-century German painter later gained fame for his paintings and portraits of Europe’s royalty and aristocracy. Among his subjects were Queen Victoria of England and Elizabeth of Austria.
Gabriele Munter was a German expressionist painter who led the Munich avant-garde movement in the early 20th century. She began to draw as a child and was supported in her ambitions by her parents. She went on to have a successful career and became a founding member of the expressionist group Der Blaue Reiter. She lived with painter Wassily Kandinsky.
Considered one of the pioneers of industrial design, German architect Peter Behrens had built his own house and all his furniture at the Darmstadt artists’ colony. The AEG Turbine Factory was one of his best-known works, and he had also designed their electric fans, lamps, and retail shops.
John Heartfield was a German visual artist. He is credited to have pioneered the use of art as a political weapon. He used photomontages to satirize Adolf Hitler and depict his anti-Nazi and anti-fascist sentiments. He studied at the Royal Bavarian Arts and Crafts School and went on to launch a publishing house, Malik-Verlag, with his brother.
46 August Macke
A leader of the Expressionist group The Blue Rider, German artist August Macke had initially drawn inspiration from his amateur artist father’s paintings. His works, such as Three Girls in a Barque, focused on human subjects and mingled German and French traditions. He was killed while fighting in World War I.
Georg Baselitz is a German painter, sculptor, and graphic artist known for his figurative, expressive paintings. He grew up in the wake of World War II, and the concept of destruction is an underlying theme seen in many of his works. He is known for inverting all his paintings. He is a recipient of the Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur.
48 Anni Albers
German-born American textile designer Anni Albers redefined textile arts in the 20th century. While studying painting initially, she had reluctantly joined a weaving workshop, considered a woman’s art back then, and ended up being inspired by it. She and her husband later fled to the U.S. to escape the Nazi regime.
Although considered the foremost promoter of Impressionism in Germany, painter and printmaker Max Liebermann never fully detached himself from his subject matters. Known for his works on the life and labor of the poor, including peasants, urban laborers, and orphans, portraying their plight through paintings like The Flax Spinners., he successfully maintained the narrative tradition of the German art.