How well do you know some of the world's most famous artists?
1. With 5,000 pages of drawings in his notebooks, this Italian painter and sculptor was perhaps the world's first scientific illustrator, too. Many were technical drawings he made to improve his painting. He was captivated by flying machines and also drew the first cars, bicycles, tanks, and more. His curiosity and inventions were legendary. 'I question' were the words he wrote most frequently in his journals. But he is best remembered for what may be the world's best-known portrait.
2. In his lifetime, this largely self-taught Dutch painter sold only one painting. He drew on cafe menus, scraps of paper, and in books. He frequently painted outside, on location. Desperately poor, he went for days without food in order to buy art supplies. When he tried to sell a series of paintings of sunflowers for about $80, he had no success. But 10 years ago, his 'Sunflowers' sold for $40 million.
3. As a child, this Spanish artist was drawing before he could talk. His first words, in fact, were 'Piz, piz!' an urgent request for a 'lapiz,' or pencil. He preferred drawing to schoolwork (he had trouble learning to read and write), and would bring a pigeon to class so he could spend his time drawing it. His first art exhibit, at age 13, was in the back room of an umbrella shop. Five years later he left for Paris, where he lived in a garret. He used books for pillows, burned drawings to keep warm, and kept a white mouse as a pet. Whenever he had enough money, he went to the bullfights. He was fascinated by the bullfighter's lack of fear. 'Guernica,' his nearly 26-foot-long masterpiece, symbolized his outrage at the bombing of that town during the Spanish Civil War.
4. At age 12 she told a friend, 'I'm going to be an artist!' In her early career, she taught art in Texas and other Southern states. She married a famous New York photographer who had praised and promoted her work for years. Mutual respect united them. They lived in Manhattan on the highest floor of a skyscraper. Eventually, she began spending summers alone in New Mexico, which she adored for its stark scenery and remoteness. After her husband died, she bought an adobe ranch house overlooking breathtaking cliffs. From there she painted desert scenes and clear skies, rode horseback, and rafted on the Colorado River. She is most remembered for her drawings of enormously enlarged flowers. Her series of paintings of calla lilies sold for the highest sum ever paid to a living American artist.
(1) Leonardo da Vinci, 1452-1519, the Mona Lisa; (2) Vincent van Gogh, 1853-1890; (3) Pablo Picasso, 1881-1973; (4) Georgia O'Keeffe, 1887-1986. Her husband was Alfred Stieglitz.