The Lives of Artists

The Life Stories of the World's Greatest Artists

Masters of the Art of Painting

The lives of artists can be as complex as their paintings. These art history videos look at the whole life of the artist, warts and all. The influences on the lives of the artists, their motivations, their trials and tribulations are all discussed sympathetically. Paintings and drawings are discussed chronologically so the context in which they led their lives becomes more apparent.

I hope you enjoy my interpretations of the lives of these great artists.

English not your First Language?

logo utreon

For more detailed biographies of the famous artists featured on this page, checkout my new art history website:

Amedeo Modigliani

Amedeo Modigliani was an Italian artist best known for his portraits and nudes. Born in Livorno, Italy, he moved to Paris in 1906 and joined the bohemian art scene. Modigliani’s work features elongated figures with minimal features and a distinctive use of colour. Despite facing financial difficulties throughout his life, he created unique and innovative works of art. His early death at the age of 35 cut short his career. Modigliani’s work remains popular and he is one of the leading artists of the 20th century.

Paul Klee

Paul Klee was a Swiss-German artist who worked in a variety of styles, including Expressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism. He was a teacher at the Bauhaus school in Germany and is known for his playful and imaginative use of colour, line, and form in his paintings. Klee’s work has been widely influential and is regarded as a significant contribution to 20th-century art. Despite facing criticism during his lifetime, he is now one of the most celebrated 20th century artists.

Amrita Sher-Gil

Amrita Sher-Gil was an Hungarian/Indian artist whose paintings of the poor in India made her a national treasure. She was a precociously gifted artist who attended the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris from the age of 16. There are only 172 documented works by Amrita Sher-Gil, most are in the National Art gallery of India in New Dehli. Amrita Sher-Gil died in mysterious circumstances at the age of just 28.

René Magritte

Rene Magritte was a Belgian Surrealist artist. His paintings were characterised by symbols—the female torso, the bourgeois “little man,” the bowler hat, the apple, the castle, the rock, the window, often set in unusual or unexpected situations. Like other painters of Surrealism his work is mysterious and deliberately difficult to decipher. One of his most important works is ‘The Menaced Assassin’.

Tamara de Lempicka

Tamara de Lempicka was born in Warsaw in 1898. She was a modern woman, a larger-than-life character, libertine and social climber. Her paintings were Cubist inspired and combined the traditions of Ingres and Caravaggio and mixed that with the lavish decoration, style and sophistication of her sitters. She and her work epitomised the glamourous era of Art Deco during the 1920’s and 1930’s.

Stanley Spencer

Stanley Spencer was born in 1891 in Cookham-on-Thames, Berkshire, England. Cookham was his world, and the source of inspiration for much of the work he produced. Stanley Spencer was a small man around 5’ 2” tall, with an ebullient character. He is famous for his Sandham Chapel murals and the 2nd World war paintings of the Lithgow Shipyard in Glasgow and the tangled relationship he had with his two wives.

Hilma af Klint

Swedish artist Hilma af Klint, did not have any contact with the modern movements of her time, yet she is now generally considered to be the pioneer of abstract art. Heavily influenced by spiritualism and Theosophy, her first abstract painting, created in 1906, pre-dated Kandinsky’s by five years. The delayed appreciation of her work is due in part to her own wishes.

Francis Bacon

The British artist Francis Bacon explores adult themes and subjects in his wildly inventive and tortured paintings. His work reflects a life lived to extravagant extremes. He didn’t take up painting seriously until he was in his 30’s but then developed a unique style of painting the human condition. His painting, ‘Three Studies of Lucien Freud’ sold at auction in 2013 for the world record price of $142.4 million.

Mary Cassatt

Mary Stevenson Cassatt was an American artist born in Allegheny City now part of Pittsburgh, USA on 22 May 1844. She came from a wealthy family and her mother Katherine was a strong believer in educating women to be knowledgeable and socially active. Mary Cassatt depicted the 19th century New Woman from the woman’s perspective and is most famous for her paintings of Mother and Child.

Jacob Lawrence

Jacob Lawrence was born in Atlantic City, USA on the 7th September 1917. One of the most important American artists of the 20th century, Jacob Lawrence was widely renowned for his modernist depictions of everyday life, as well as epic narratives of African American history and historical figures. Although, born into a poor family his rise to artistic prominence was rapid.

Toulouse Lautrec

Toulouse Lautrec was small in stature but a giant of an artist. Famous for his humanistic portrayals of sex workers that reveal an uncommon sensitivity, perhaps motivated by a sense of identification with the socially marginalized, due to his own physical issues. And also, for his highly individualized poster portrayals of Montmartre entertainers, cabaret dancers and singers. He was one of the most influential post-impressionist artists of the late 19th century.

Paul Cézanne

Paul Cézanne was born in Aix-en-Provence in France in 1839. His early work was crude but after meeting his mentor Camille Pissaro in the early 1870’s, black disappeared from his palette. Cézanne rejected the Impressionist theories of light, his goal was to make things look permanent and solid, he achieved this by creating a balanced composition, the result of careful calculation, reflection and logic. He died in 1906.

L. S. Lowry

L S Lowry was born in Salford, England in 1887. he suffered from Asperger Syndrome and lived with his parents until he was 52. He never married. He painted the industrial scenery in and around Manchester and was known as the painter of matchstick men, although his art is more sophisticated than that. He turned down a Knighthood and died a few months before his greatest triumph, his one man show at the Royal Academy of Art in London in 1976.

Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt’s life began in Baumgarten in Austria. This short artist tutorial covers the prodigious talent that led to him becoming the first president of the Viennese Secession. Best known for his portraits his life was not without controversy. He painted women in a very decorative style combining geometric decoration with realistic depictions of hands and faces. Klimt died in Vienna in 1918 just 55 years old.

Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo was an amazing artist. Her work explores issues that affected her personally with honesty and integrity, which is why her paintings are held in such high regard. She was born in Coyoacan, Mexico City in 1907 and died in 1954 aged just 47. She contracted polio when a toddler and was involved in a major traffic accident when in her teens. Both events had a profound effect on her life and work.

Claude Monet

This film covers all aspects of the famous artist Claude Monet’s life, from his initial struggles to get to art school in Paris and earn his father’s good wishes, to the birth of Impressionism and his crowning success of his final years painting his waterlily paintings at Giverny. The film also looks at his relationship with his dealers, especially Paul Durand Ruel and his struggle to sell enough paintings to support his children.

Edvard Munch

Edvard Munch art was full of love, angst and death and was much influenced by his upbringing. His mother died when he was five and one of his sisters when he was 14 years old. Another sister had mental problems and all proved to be a rich source for his painting. His most famous work was, ‘The Scream,’ but his greatest achievement was ‘The Frieze of Life’, watch our short artist videos to find out more.

Vincent van Gogh

The film covers Vincent Van Gogh’s life from his early life in England, his relationship with his brother Theo, being a preacher to becoming, at the age of 27, an artist. All the important elements of his life, including, his moves to Paris and Arles, his most famous paintings and his short and turbulent association with Paul Gauguin, that led to him cutting off of his ear and his move to the asylum at Saint Remy are covered.

Ferdinand Hodler

Ferdinand Hodler was born into a poor family and by 18 was earning a living painting scenes of the Alps for tourists. Initially, he painted in a very vigorous realistic style, but his work was also influenced by his own spiritual crises, Symbolism and Art Nouveau. His work embodies the Swiss federal identity, because his best-known paintings feature characters doing everyday jobs, rather images of dignitaries.

M F Husain

Indian artist Maqbool Fida Husain, known as M. F. Husain was a very creative, controversial and flamboyant artist who combined Indian themes with European styles of painting. Born in Pandharpur, he worked in India most of his life, but spent his last days in Doha and London. He his best known for his series of paintings on Mother Theresa, Gandhi and the Ramayana, one of the two epic poems of India.

Marc Chagall

Marc Chagall, an orthodox Jew, was born in Vitebsk, Russia (now Belarus) on the 7th of July 1887 as Moshe Segal. Known as the painter of love, he married the love of his life, Bella in 1915. She appears in many of his paintings. He also produced amazing designs for stain glass windows for churches and even the Israeli Knesset. He died in 1985 in Vence in France.

Do you enjoy my Art History Videos?

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel