The great visual artists that changed how we “read art are relatively few in number and unique in accomplishments. They were often self-taught, obsessed with their work and fought for their beliefs. Without them we would have no “art history” and our perspective of the world would be mostly religious, flat and two-dimensional, and less revealing of our inner nature.
Here are 8 European artists who laid the groundwork for what we know about visual arts and what is possible today. I chose these 8 because of their great courage, their mental struggles that defined their lives, and the ultimate value of their creations. Many others would qualify for this list, but these are clearly outstanding for their work.
None of the 8 are common in any sense. They lived their lives at the tip of the spear. In fact, I think that it was their quirky minds, their depressive -manic personalities, and their search for universal truths that led to their greatness. Yes they were intelligent but also highly competitive, agitated, and demanding of themselves. Most were highly narcissistic risk takers who rarely found peace and prosperity. They sometimes died without fame, thanks, or friends. Along with their names I have given what has been estimated for the sale price of their greatest paintings should they ever come to market. It is not merely our recognition of their artistic genius that sets the price of their creations, but is their drawing back of a curtain that exposed the basic traits that evolved among the survivors of our ancestors. In the next blog I will sketch what appear to be the driving forces of their personalities. The creative artists then and even today are those who charged forward regardless of social stigmas and even though their minds may have been self-destructive.
From Darkness to Sublimity
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarrot (1475-1564): 50 million for Birth of Man, Sistine Chapel
El Greco (1541-1640): 1,475,00: Baptism of Christ
Caravaggio (1571-1610): 135 million: Judith Beheading Holofernes
Rembrandt van Rign (1606-1669): 33.2 million: Portrait of a Man
Francisco Goya (1746-1828): 7.1 million: Bullfight
Paul Cezanne (1839-1906): 250 million: Card Players
Paul Gauguin (1848-1903): 300 million: Two Tahitian Women
Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890): 71 million: Starry Night
As we will see in the next blog, they all paid a dear personal price for their accomplishments.