10 Defining Portraits of Renowned Artists

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Their masterpieces are easily identifiable in museums but sometimes, it's hard to put a face to the famous artist's name. LIFE recently curated an amazing gallery of the "40 Most Revealing Artists Portraits," featuring the likes of Picasso, Pollock, Dali, de Kooning, and more, which any analogue photography or art enthusiast would admire.

Salvador Dali (1950), Roy Lichtenstein (1963) and Marc Chagall (1960). Photos via LIFE

Photographed by various staff and commissioned photographers of LIFE magazine, these telling portraits of artists at work present the creative process behind each successful, museum-worthy masterpiece and the moods conveyed by the individuals who brought them to fruition.

Marcel Duchamp (1952), Eva Hesse (1969) and Giorgio de Chirico (1949). Photos via LIFE

“Here, LIFE.com presents a series of portraits of the artists who reimagined and redefined ways of seeing the world throughout the 20th century. Pollock is here, and Picasso, Georgia O’Keeffe and even Renoir. But can casual art fans actually identify a photograph of, say, Claes Oldenburg? Or Jasper Johns (83 years old today, May 15)? Or Barbara Hepworth or Giorgio de Chirico? What’s wonderful about the 41 pictures here, including those (like the deeply shadowed silhouettes of Hopper and O’Keeffe) in which we perceive a sense of the figure, rather than the details of his or her visage, is that each photo reveals something specifically, uniquely essential about the artist. After all, one would be hard-pressed to find two more dissimilar portraits than those of Arshile Gorky and Robert Rauschenberg. But each of those photographs in this gallery captures an aspect of the artist’s personality and sensibility (Gorky’s moody intensity; Rauschenberg’s exuberance) that, in a heartbeat, helps us see something — even if it’s only a glimpse — of the human being behind the artwork.

Christo (1968), Marisol Escobar (1957), Elaine de Kooning (1964) and Georgia O’Keeffe (1966). Photos via LIFE

See the full gallery of _The 40 Most Revealing Artist Portraits_ on LIFE.com.

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written by denisesanjose on 2013-05-16 in #news

7 Comments

  1. djramsay
    djramsay ·

    love Duchamp

  2. deepfried_goodness
    deepfried_goodness ·

    When I used to draw and paint many many years ago, I was very influenced by Salvador Dali and other surrealists. I had many prints of his up in my room. Definitely was a bit of a concern for my good church-going parents.

  3. deepfried_goodness
    deepfried_goodness ·

    Even more of a concern to them was afterwards when I really liked H.R. Giger.

  4. mrmostarr
    mrmostarr ·

    @djramsay “Marcel Duchamp wanted to reveal the vanity of art. One day he’ll be used to vindicate the art of vanity.” Chris Marker ;)

  5. maxle
    maxle ·

    Warhol's tons of self-portraits didn't fit in here i guess. ^_^

  6. denisesanjose
    denisesanjose ·

    @maxle Haha yeah waaay too many! Check out articles on Andy Warhol here: www.lomography.com/magazine/tags/39861-andy-warhol

  7. buckshot
    buckshot ·

    Warhol, Schmarhol! Does nothing for me, I'm afraid. Picasso and Dalí, on the other hand, created great, original, thought-provoking art, so they certainly belong in the pantheon of inspirational 20th-century artists.

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