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10 Defining Portraits of Renowned Artists

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.

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.

“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.

See the full gallery of The 40 Most Revealing Artist Portraits on LIFE.com.

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written by denisesanjose

7 comments

  1. djramsay

    djramsay

    love Duchamp

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  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.

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  3. deepfried_goodness

    deepfried_goodness

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

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  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 ;)

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  5. maxle

    maxle

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

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  6. denisesanjose

    denisesanjose

    @maxle Haha yeah waaay too many! Check out articles on Andy Warhol here: http://www.lomograph(…)andy-warhol

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  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.

    about 1 year ago · report as spam

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This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: 中文(繁體版), 中文(简体版), 中文(繁體版), Deutsch & Spanish.