The art world would be incomplete without the contributions of some incredibly skilled German artists!
“We have art so that we shall not die of reality.”
This quote by German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, perfectly describes German art’s contribution to the art community.
With so many eminent artists across art movements and different periods, we have a long list of German artists to look into.
In today’s article, I will be discussing 13 German painters whose artistic contributions changed the art community forever.
Without any further ado, let me share my research on the world of German artists and their art!
Table of contents
The Magnificence of German Art
Before we dive deeper into the topic and learn about famous German artists, let’s first see the timeline to which these artists belong.
|Name of the Artist||Years||Art Movement / Period|
|Albert Durer||1471- 1528||Renaissance|
|Hans Holbein||1497- 1543||Renaissance|
|Casper David Friedrich||1774-1840||Romanticism|
|Max Liebermann||1847- 1935||Impressionism|
|Paula Modersohn Becker||1876-1907||Expressionism|
|Paul Klee||1879-1940||Expressionism, Surrealism and Cubism|
|Max Ernst||1891-1976||Dadaism and Surrealism|
|Otto Dix||1891-1969||New Objectivity|
|George Grosz||1893- 1959||Expressionism, Modern Art & Dadaism|
|Gerhard Richter||1932- Present||Contemporary Art|
|Anslem Kiefer||1945- Present||Contemporary and Neo-Expressionism|
The table above will help us understand what era each artist is from and what art period they were part of in a glace!
Now, to the most important question: “what makes German art so special?”
Referring to the table again, you can see that there were 13 artists who had contributed to several art periods.
You can also see that many of them were part of different art movements too.
What does this show?
German artists and their art play a vital role in the art community globally.
In fact, a lot of famous art movements that honed the art community were born in Germany.
What are they? — Landscape art, Northern Mannerism, Expressionism or Modern Art, and Bauhas!
With so many art movements having their roots in this country, it is inevitable to mention those German artists who were the prime mover of these art periods.
Let us venture more into the brilliance of each of these artists and their famous German art!
1. Albert Durer
This Renaissance artist has made around 1000 paintings and drawings together!
Albert Durer is one of the most versatile German artists you will ever come across.
Apart from being an accomplished painter, he was also a writer and authored many books!
His artistic inclination started in his family because his father was a goldsmith.
He grew up to create one of the Adam and Eve renditions that was ever made which was one of Durer’s best works.
The way he incorporated symmetry with human anatomy gained his version of Adam and Eve a lot of attention!
Hitherto, his art and skills have been a great influence on many German art and artists!
2. Hans Holbein
The next from our list of German artists is Hans Holbein, who created 220 paintings in his lifetime.
Holbein’s whole family were again artists, so being born into a family of artists, art was always a part of him.
He was appointed as the court painter in England by the then king, King Henry VIII, and created a lot of royal portraits.
His paintings were not just mere art, but filled with aesthetics, intellectual outlook and yet volatile in nature.
He would do great justice to realism in all his paintings, and for the same reason he was great at painting portrait paintings.
The portraits of his two friends, Jean de Dinteville and Georges De Selves are known to be two of his most famous paintings.
3. Casper David Friedrich
Casper David Friedrich was one of the German artists who was also a part of the Romantic art period.
In his lifetime, Friedrich created over 257 unique paintings.
This 19th century German artist completed his studies in Copenhagen before pursuing art.
Despite living a life with various experiences, both lows and ups, Friedrich died in poverty.
For a period, his art did not get the recognition it deserved, but after his death, it got its due love, and today his art can be found in several art galleries.
Post-death, things turned completely on his favor, and he ended by becoming one of the most influential German artists of the 20th century.
4. Max Liebermann
This German artist is known to be one of the pioneer Impressionist artists in Germany!
The Jewish-German painter Max Liebermann’s interest inclined towards landscapes and he did a brilliant job at creating some of the world’s most famous landscape paintings.
Liebermann, although was an active advocate of impressionist art, his work echoed traces of realism from it.
Apart from that, it is believed that Liebermann created more than 200 portraits that received immense love.
Yet again, even Liebermann’s paintings gained their deserving attention after his death, after the second world war, to be precise!
5. Emil Nolde
We cannot think of Expressionism art without thinking of Emil Nolde!
As per the records, this famous German Expressionist artist has created around 320 paintings
His specialty in art was again landscapes and floral designs too.
His art was the epitome of the spirit of modern art!
Using vibrant hues of the 20th century and connecting them with religious portrayal were his specialty!
Nolde was also a part of the infamous group of German artists, called Der Blaue Reiter.
It is through this group and the artist friends he made there that Nolde started going to exhibitions.
Till 1956, the year he died, Nolde continued to create extremely moving artwork that reached thousands of audiences!
6. Paula Modersohn Becker
Paula Modersohn Becker is yet another expressionist artist who is known for the 150 paintings and 200 prints she created!
Unlike other expressionist artists, she did not just stick with this movement but also went on experimenting with landscape paintings.
Apart from this, she also fancied painting women and children, preferably with oil paints and Tempera.
This famous German artist’s impressive skills lie within her talent to handle brush strokes.
Thus, she is known for using rich, vibrant hues with rough brushstrokes, and creates something unique in the process!
7. Paul Klee
This particular German artist is a master at Expressionism, Surrealism, and Cubism!
Even though he was a part of the movement led by Pablo Picasso, Klee’s artistic approach was contrary to Picasso’s.
He created several artworks from mere materials that he’d gathered, that included canvas, cotton, wood, cardboard, paper, and jute.
Klee was known for being an experimental artist!
It is through experiments that he found his unique love for making collages using Cubism!
His experiments, and his collage work using Cubism was also born from that.
Can you guess the number of paintings and drawings Klee created over his lifespan? It’s more than 9000 paintings and drawings!
8. Franz Marc
Franz Marc was yet again one among the German expressionist artists who was artistically inspired from his father!
This German artist was also a part of the Der Blaue Reiter, in fact, he served as one of the founding members of the group in which Wassily Kandinsky played an eminent role!
Marc had a very unique, distinctive style, which in my understanding was a result of several other art styles.
He would create landscape paintings with the essence of Cubism while painting the subjects in the composition.
You wish to see Marc’s work in person? Many of his artworks reside in the Washington National Gallery of Art.
9. Max Ernst
Now, we have a German artist in the list whose art was involved with Dadaism and Surrealism.
Max Earnst created over 1260 paintings along with other sculpture art.
He was one of the most influential and famous German artists of his time and continued to be for the next few centuries.
In fact, he served a key role in forming Dadaism.
He was also involved in several Surrealist art movements through which he created some breathtaking art!
Both these art movements that Ernst was involved in had rather unconventional ways of doing art!
Because of this, Ernst’s art also gathered a lot of media attention, but nevertheless it did not lessen the brilliance of his art!
Some of Ernst’s famous paintings are The Elephant Celebes, Oedipus Rex, and Europe After the Rain!
10. Otto Dix
Otto Dix was one of the most influential German artists who was known for his work with the New Objectivity art movement.
Dix is known for his abundantly unique style which is like no other.
A lot of his art incorporated war themes because of the experiences he had during the war!
These paintings will really make you ponder everything with alarming and disturbing visions!
I found it extremely interesting how he used his art to show the demoralization of corruption in Germany after the war!
11. George Grosz
Yet another one from our list of German artists, whose drawings often had a hint of satire to them often to make a political statement!
He was also an expressionist artist who was involved with Dadaism, Modern Art, and New Objectivity.
Can you imagine the range of his paintings?
Growing up as an artist, he had strong admiration for German Art Nouveau artists!
Fun fact: Many of Grosz’s drawings were brought back into periodicals and journals, for the brilliance they held!
12. Gerhard Richter
Gerhard Richter was Germany’s most popular painter and sculptor.
He produced over 2000 paintings and 90 sculptors!
He is one of the modern German artists of contemporary times.
This 20th century German artist is known for experimenting with social realistic wall paintings, post the Second World War.
It is at Dusseldorf Art Academy that Richter finds his own unique style and practices it!
Richter has always been an experimental artist, and this is reflected in all the art he has ever created.
Did you know that he would just squeeze paint tubes all over the canvas and call it a complete piece?!
His abstract paintings would only make sense to those with an artistic eye!
Suggested Read: 49+ Types of Painting Styles and Techniques
13. Anslem Kiefer
Anslem Kiefer was one of the German artists who was greatly involved with the Contemporary and Neo-Expressionism movements!
In his lifetime, he has created over 510 paintings and 60 sculptures!
Kiefer is infamous for his contemporary German art, which portrayed a lot of paintings and pictures in large format.
Therefore, his artwork was recognized as being the appropriate representation of German art!
He, too, studied art in Dusseldorf, where he met several Neo-expressionist artists and was influenced by them.
The most interesting part of Kiefer’s paintings is that they traverse through mythological concepts and German history!
Now you have come across 13 of the most famous German artists of all time.
There are some very evident similarities that you can notice from all of them together.
While the similarities exist, each artist showcases their uniqueness through how they represent German art!
Which among the above is your favorite?
Guten Tag! I hope you have a nice time reading today’s blog.
Once again, I am immensely grateful to have you spend your time reading this and I would love to hear from you.
So, feel free to reach out to us in the comments below and share your thoughts about German artists and art, or anything else!
Until next time then,
Frequently Asked Questions
Albert Durer is known to be the father of German art.
Landscape Art, Northern Mannerism, Expressionism, Modern Art, and Bauhaus are some of the art movements that were born in Germany.
Paul Klee, Franz Marc, Otto Dix and George Grosz are some of the German Expressionist artists.