With an illustrious legacy spanning more than 1000 years, Spanish art never fails to amaze us with its cognizance among the classical European period.
From Neoclassical artworks to Cubist masterpieces, Spanish artists have elevated artistic liberty for centuries. Most of them are known for their astounding passion for various Art movements.
Spanish artists have incorporated every prominent element in their work, from Gothic and Biblical architecture to Renaissance landscapes. The Spanish Golden Age has been witness to these famous Spanish paintings.
Although some Spanish art styles are inspired by Italian and French artforms, they’ve still contributed a lot to international art with their peculiarities.
Spanish artists have had a tremendous influence on Western art. From Velazquez to Picasso, the Western art forms have witnessed their excellence and devotion minutely.
Since we are acquainted with Spanish art a bit, let’s get familiar with the “maestros” of the art.
Table of contents
1. Pablo Picasso
A man known for his multidisciplinary expertise in various art forms such as painting, sculpting, and ceramic pottery, Pablo Ruiz Picasso was one of the most famous Spanish artists.
He spent most of his adulthood in France, where he created some of his best art. Picasso went to France during the Second World War and supported the resistance in a very subtle manner.
A maestro of Spanish art; Pablo Picasso co-founded prominent and revolutionary art movements like Cubism and crafted some of the finest products of the Cubist Movement.
Picasso’s artistic timeline consists of several periods in which he crafted dedicated paintings with an unscattered focus towards a theme.
During the “Blue Period,” Picasso created paintings like “The Old Guitarist,” with the optimal use of blue and green pigments. He rendered the final pieces using warm colors to portray the dullness of the central subject of the paintings.
Subjects like beggars and prostitutes were among his primary options for his paintings during his Blue Period.
Picasso became a sensation in the world of art in the mid-1900s. His powerful depictions of critical elements of life using analytical painting techniques fetched him attention across the globe.
2. Diego Velazquez
A royal and one of the most famous Spanish artists of the Spanish Golden Age, Diego Velazquez was one of the most prominent painters of the Baroque period. He drafted over 200 paintings in his lifetime.
Biblical and royal subjects are seen predominantly in Diego Velazquez paintings. The influence behind these artworks can be traced back to his role as a royal painter in the court of King Philip IV.
Diego Velazquez was famous for his prowess in tenebrist style. He had mastery in creating a spotlight effect to highlight the central element of the painting using optical illusions.
Some of his paintings from the Baroque period give evidence of using a chiaroscuro technique. The dominant addition of dark and off-white elements made the central figures pop out in order to depict the theme of the artwork.
Velazquez visited Italy a couple of times. His maiden trip was sponsored by King Philip IV, hence, he was eager to learn more about royal portraiture.
He crafted numerous portraits for the Spanish royal family after his return from Italy. After which he became one of the most famous Spanish artists.
Suggested Read: Famous Italian Artists
3. El Greco
Domenikos Theotokopoulos, also known as El greco in Spain, was a Greek painter and sculptor. Famous for his contributions in building the Spanish Renaissance, he was hailed as one of the earliest painters to embed elements of Mannerism in his art.
As one of the famous Spanish artists, El Greco’s paintings depicted scenes from ancient Greek culture with Byzantine art references. Not only did he study ancient Greek culture in detail but also he implemented it in his paintings.
He received his artistic literacy initially from the Cretan School, which also happened to be a prominent center for post-Byzantine art.
El Greco moved to Spain in 1577, where he experienced artistic criticism for the first time in his life. He tried to become a royal painter for King Philip II through his commissioned art works. However, the king did not like his work and denied him this opportunity.
El Greco kept on creating Biblical and Gothic artworks and crafted some of the most nuanced artworks of all time.
4. Francisco Goya
Francisco Goya, known for the Romanticism in his paintings, was indeed a very special and important artist of the 18th century.
Goya was one of the most expressive painters of all time. His emotional timeline can be deduced from his sequence of paintings.
Goya used to lead a normal life in his early years. He was appointed court painter to the Spanish Royal Family. He drafted many paintings with an essence of romanticism for the Spanish crown.
Many of his famous paintings such as The Parasol, signify the embodiment of subtle romanticism in the scene. Goya’s famous works like these give an insight of his expertise in the art.
Goya has drafted numerous paintings of the royal family with utmost detail and clarity. However, a few incidents in the latter stages of his life left him vulnerable.
In 1793 he became deaf due to severe illness. That incident marked the entry of pessimism in his artform. A few years after that, the Peninsular War broke out and he was in Madrid at that time.
The artwork made in this wartime would express his mental condition.
He also witnessed plenty of horrific scenes, which he displayed on the canvas. One of them being “The Third of May 1808”.
5. Salvador Dali
Probably one of the most popular and talked about artists of all time. Salvador Dali was an expert of surrealism. His bizarre ideation of paintings made him stand out the crowd initially.
Involvement of animals and food items as focal objects was a normal trail for Dali paintings. He drafted unconscious and unimaginable ideas in the most elusive manner.
Salvador Dali paintings introduced bizarreness as a symbol of surrealism to the world. His paintings such as “The Great Masturbator” and “The Burning Giraffe” portray obliviousness of the human mind.
Dali was highly obsessed with his dead brother. He quoted “We are two droplets of water with the same reflection”. He drew his brother in his paintings quiet often.
Apart from paintings, Dali also provided ad-hoc support to Walt Disney in animating the film “Destino” after the Second World War.
Being a true pioneer of the art, There are two museums dedicated to Dali’s artworks. One in Spain and the other in The United States, where people can admire his paintings and artworks.
Suggested Read: The Persistence of Memory, Dali’s Melting Clock Painting
6. Joan Miro
From starting his career as a clerk to establishing himself as one of the prominent artists of surrealism, Joan Miro came a long way and paved his path with a lot of talent, hard work and passion.
Miro grew up in Barcelona in a partially Jewish family. His parents were into the goldsmith business and watchmaking. His early days were pretty much like a normal child.
Miro was named as the individualistic modern artist of the 19th century by art enthusiasts. His style of painting included Analytical cubism, Surrealism and some elements of Fauvism.
Juan Miro earned himself recognition because of his consistent contributions to emerging modern art of that period. His artworks such as Horse, Pipe and Red Flower fetched him international fame.
Suggested Read: Paintings by Renoir
7. Juan Gris
Being a prominent artist of the Cubist movement, Juan Gris elevated cubism art to the next level. Not only did he show his expertise through analytical cubism but also he amalgamated modern art along with it.
Gris started his career as a satirical cartoonist. He then left his job and took painting as a full time affair in 1911. The rest is history.
Juan Gris was one of the very few artists who could pull off grid structure in continuity and discontinuity simultaneously.
Some of his cubist artworks such as Juan Legua depict a grid structure in a non-symmetrical manner. On the other hand paintings like The Guitar portray discontinuity in symmetry.
With that being said, Juan Gris was a maestro of the art and inspired many aspiring painters with his evocative artworks.
8. Claudio Coello
Another maven of Spanish Baroque art, Claudio Coello was one of the greatest painters of the late 17th century. Being son of a prominent Portuguese sculptor, Faustino Coello, Claudio also had a great amount of excellence in sculptures.
Most of his mainstream artworks had a central biblical theme and were commissioned in either churches or The royal court of Spain.
Coello shared acquaintances with almost every distinguished artist of the late 17th century. His meeting with Juan Carreno de Miranda gave him the opportunity to get a comprehensive glimpse on legendary works of Titian and Rubens in the royal collections.
As Coello clutched towards his zenith as a painter, one of his paintings “Adoration Of The Miraculous Host” fetched him a lot of artistic attention, which took him seven years to accomplish.
Coello painted several Biblical scenes with a perfectly contrasted color scheme depicting the emotions in the painting. Apart from that, he also painted several elegant portraits for King Charles II and his family.
Considering his excellence and devotion towards the art, he is known as the last maestro of The Baroque style of art.
Check out Johannes reproduction paintings that is said to be one of the most famous artworks during Baroque period.
9. Jusepe De Ribera
Jusepe De Ribera was one of the earliest artists of the Baroque period. Known for his obsession with portraying martyrdom in his artworks, Ribera was a master in depicting anxious emotions such as pain, agony and suffering in his paintings.
Inspired by maestros like Caravaggio, Ribera contemplated the use of contrast in his painting with near perfection.
He used bright colors for the central subjects and complimented them with a dark layer in the background. These visuals can be witnessed in artworks like Apollo and Marsyas.
Ribera also painted commissioned art for churches and convents across Spain and Italy. He received a huge amount for his painting “Saint Martin Sharing his Cloak with a Beggar” which he painted for the Church of San Prospero in 1611.
Ribera’s paintings seemed to be inspired by Greek Mythology very frequently. He drafted Greek biblical figures predominantly.
Ribera left behind a legacy of more than 100 paintings for the world to get inspired from.
10. Francisco De Zurbaran
Famous for his expertise in chiaroscuro technique, Zurbaran drafted Biblical masterpieces with excellence.
Some historians speculate that Zurbaran was influenced by Caravaggio to some extent. However, there isn’t any written evidence to support this fact.
A few paintings by Zurbaran follow a similar style of tenebrism present in paintings by Caravaggio. Due to that, he was also known as the Spanish Caravaggio.
Zurbaran began his artistic journey in 1614 when he was sent to Seville by his father. His acquaintance with Pedro Diaz de Villanueva marked the start of his artistic career.
In 1626, Zurbaran signed a contract with a Dominican Monastery in Seville. He had to produce 21 paintings in 8-9 months. All of them revolved around the life of Saint Dominic.
This acted like a breakthrough for Zurbaran and he kept on crafting masterpieces like that in future.
11. Antonio Gisbert
Antonio Gisbert was one of the few famous Spanish artists who mastered the art of drafting eclecticism on canvas. He covered major political events of the 19th century.
His style of art was similar to chiaroscuro technique in the Baroque period. He made optimum use of contrast in order to highlight the subject.
Most of his artworks had a political aim to support suppressed voices in a realistic manner. Gisbert painted in favor of liberal causes.
Apart from his disagreement of support for totalitarianism, Gisbert painted a few portraits of King Amadeo, an Italian prince who reigned over Spain from 1870-1873.
His painting “The execution of Torrijos and His Companions at Malaga Beach” portrays the exact essence of the event in a realistic way. Hence it accomplishes him as a successful artist of Spanish Eclecticism.
12. Lita Cabellut
A famous Spanish artist of the current generation, Lita Cabellut is an expert of fresco technique. She currently lives and works in The Hague, Netherlands.
Inspired by famous Spanish artists like Diego Velazquez and El Greco, Cabellut grew up in Spain and got exposure to the Spanish Baroque art at a very young age.
Her style of painting resembles an explosion of thoughts on a large canvas. Cabellut’s paintings depict placidity amongst the chaos. Artworks like “A Chronicle Of Infinite ” portrays the essence of the cosmos.
Cabellut is very expressive when it comes to deployment of colors. She inculcates the magnitude of emotions in the form of colors on her canvas.
Apart from that, she has a skin as a sculptor, photographer and poetry as well. Through which she gave a tribute to Frida Kahlo, a famous artist from Mexico.
Being one of the most famous Spanish artists of today’s time, her artworks are displayed in various exhibitions across the globe.
References Of Spanish Artworks Among The Pop-Culture:
Spanish art has influenced the emerging and static western culture to a very large extent. Whether we talk about colonial or modern art, all these artforms have subtle references embedded in today’s pop-art.
A very popular example is shown in web series Money Heist, the protagonists have used Salvador Dali masks throughout the show. This reference leads to Dali’s ideology of breaking the barriers of societal realism through his paintings.
Picasso’s illustration of human-like characters in modern art forms can be seen in a lot of animated films and commercials. However, the artistic reference is visible but the philosophical aspect behind it seems missing.
These famous Spanish artists have been an inspiration to artists of the Pop-art movement.
Spanish artists have carved an eminent heritage with their flabbergasting art. Every artist in this list has been a pioneer of their style.
Be it political agitation or spiritual activism, these maestros have depicted everything with utmost passion.
These famous Spanish artists have contributed towards addressing societal realism in a very efficient way.
The legacy they left behind is no less than a treasure for us!
Nota Del Autor:
Hola mi amigos!
I thank you all for reading this piece about art by Spanish artists.
I hope my writing has done justice to your time and curiosity. I have done rigorous research to present these famous Spanish artists in front of you.
However, if there’s anything that is missing the mark, the comment section is yours!
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Painters like El Greco, Juan de Flandes and Pedro Berrugete were some of the famous Spanish artists who contributed in the renaissance period significantly.
Pablo Ruiz Picasso happens to be the most talked about Spanish painter of all time. His artworks received a mixed response from every diaspora.
Painters like Pablo Picasso and Juan Gris contributed in elevating cubism significantly.
Guernica by Pablo Picasso is claimed to be the most controversial Spanish painting of all time. It exposed the nuances of the Spanish civil in a very evocative manner.