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Miracles just around: early works of 15 famous artists with their signature style

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What do the early works by Picasso, Pollock, Rothko and other artists, whose mature style we unmistakably recognize, look like? We compare the first experiments of geniuses and works demonstrating their own style. You will be surprised and find that even the most inveterate abstractionist can draw well…

Claude Monet

Claude Monet. An example of realism in the picture View At Rouelles, Le Havre (1858) and landscape
The development of the genre from antiquity to the present day: how did religion and the invention of oil painting contribute to the development of the genre in Europe, and why was the Hudson River so important? Read more
Impression. Sunrise (1872), which gave the name to Impressionism. Then, why would we need the second Shishkin?
I do what I can to convey what I experience before nature and most often, in order to succeed in conveying what I feel, I totally forget the most elementary rules of painting, if they exist.
CLAUDE MONET

Paul Gauguin

Paul Gauguin. Landscape with Poplars (1875) and A Breton Landscape. David’s Mills (1894) — even within the same genre, the artist’s style and colour changed beyond recognition.

Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas. The student’s A Roman Beggar Woman (1857) and Blue Dancers (1897), illustrating both Degas’s style and his favourite subject. Like many other greats, he began his path by imitating the classics

Edvard Munch

Edvard Munch. Landscape. Maridalen by Oslo (1881) painted by 18-year-old artist, and "The Scream" (1893): the author changed not only his style, but also his colour palette.

Egon Schiele

Egon Schiele. Impressionist Winding Brook (1906) landscape
The development of the genre from antiquity to the present day: how did religion and the invention of oil painting contribute to the development of the genre in Europe, and why was the Hudson River so important? Read more
, the artwork by a 16-year-old man and one of Schiele’s typical drawings, made a year before his death. Not only the style and palette have changed, but mainly the mood of the author.

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso. The realistic Portrait of the Artist’s Mother (1896) and a surrealistic composition performed by the founder of Cubism — Woman with Flowers (1932). Which of the heroines do you think was pleased with the portrait?
Painting is a blind man’s profession. He paints not what he sees, but what he feels, what he tells himself about what he has seen.
PABLO PICASSO

Salvador Dalí

Salvador Dalí. In his Still Life (1918), there is no Surrealism yet. In the Living Still Life (1956), Surrealism
Avant-garde is how modern art critics refer the general trend of new artistic directions that arose in world art at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. A very thin line separates it from the concept of “modernism”. Read more Surrealism (Fr. surréalisme) is an avant-garde art movement of the first half of the twentieth century characterized by the fusion of reality with something else, but not oppositional. Surrealism is a dream which is neither real, nor surreal. The style is characterized by allusions and a paradoxical combination of forms, visual deception. In the paintings of the Surrealists hard objects and rocks often melt, and the water, on the contrary, hardens. Read more
is already visible to the naked eye. It is also obvious that the artist has been inseparable with the realistic painting technique throughout his life.
If you refuse to study anatomy, the art of drawing and perspective, the mathematics of aesthetics, and the science of color, let me tell you that this is more a sign of laziness than of genius.

SALVADOR DALÍ

Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse. Classical Still Life with Books and Candle (1890) and Fauvism
Fauvism is considered the first avant-garde art movement of the 20th century. It got its name in 1905, and it lived for only a couple of years, then each of the artists who called themselves the Fauves went deep into own creative search. The brightest representatives of the Fauvism are Henri MatisseAndré Derain and Maurice de Vlaminck. Read more
, the innovative manner of painting, introduced by Matisse himself in his well known Dance (1910).

Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky. Like many avant-garde
Avant-garde is how modern art critics refer the general trend of new artistic directions that arose in world art at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. A very thin line separates it from the concept of “modernism”. Read more
artists he began his artistic experiments with the Impressionism — such as his early landscape
The development of the genre from antiquity to the present day: how did religion and the invention of oil painting contribute to the development of the genre in Europe, and why was the Hudson River so important? Read more
Akhtyrka — Autumn (1901), in which you still cannot recognize the author of the Composition No. 8 (1923) and other abstract paintings.
Kazimir Malevich argued that art developed from Impressionism
No doubt, you know about Impressionism a lot: you could mention the names of the famous artists and find with ease the exhibition at museums with gleaming water surface and the same image painted in different time of the day and of course you know the scandalous history of the First Impressionist Exhibition and could distinguish Monet and Manet. So, it is high time to switch to the next level: some additional details you would like to know about Impressionism. Read more
to Suprematism. He developed in the same way himself: starting with plein-airs à la Sisley and Pissarro (Spring Garden in Blossom, 1904), he came to his Black Square and things like Suprematism, Construction No. 18 (1915).
Actually, modern researchers of Malevich’s work do not consider all the impressionistic artworks that he himself dated to the beginning of the twentieth century to be early ones. It seems that he completed a number of impressionist paintings already in the 1920s and even later, but presented them as his old things so that his theory about the movement of modern art from Impressionism
No doubt, you know about Impressionism a lot: you could mention the names of the famous artists and find with ease the exhibition at museums with gleaming water surface and the same image painted in different time of the day and of course you know the scandalous history of the First Impressionist Exhibition and could distinguish Monet and Manet. So, it is high time to switch to the next level: some additional details you would like to know about Impressionism. Read more
to Suprematism looked even more convincing.

Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock. In the Going West (1934—1935) painting, his expressionism
You can hardly tell the exact day or year of the birth of Expressionism, which is usual for all powerful art movements. You cannot draw a border on the map and indicate the territory where Expressionism took its start and got stronger. Overall, it’s all roughly known. Except for one rock-solid spatiotemporal benchmark: Northern Europe on the eve of the First World War. Expressionism is an avant-garde art movement, a new tragic worldview, and a whole set of significant motifs, symbols, and myths. Moreover, it is a revolutionary reaction both to the shabby, lifeless traditional academic art, and the light, idyllic southern impressionistic “appearance” of the world. Read more
is still very figurative, but the Convergence (1952) is already the clearest example of both his unique style and abstract expressionism
You can hardly tell the exact day or year of the birth of Expressionism, which is usual for all powerful art movements. You cannot draw a border on the map and indicate the territory where Expressionism took its start and got stronger. Overall, it’s all roughly known. Except for one rock-solid spatiotemporal benchmark: Northern Europe on the eve of the First World War. Expressionism is an avant-garde art movement, a new tragic worldview, and a whole set of significant motifs, symbols, and myths. Moreover, it is a revolutionary reaction both to the shabby, lifeless traditional academic art, and the light, idyllic southern impressionistic “appearance” of the world. Read more
.
I want to express my feelings rather than illustrate them
JACKSON POLLOCK

Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko. The Untitled (Man with Green Face) (1934—1935) was painted by Marcus Rothkowitz (an artist who came to the USA from Dvinsk, Viciebsk province, only adapted his name in 1940). Any of the Expressionists could paint such a portrait. The painting United (Blue, Yellow, Green on Red), (1954) could only be painted by Rothko.

Piet Mondrian

Piet Mondrian. Village Church (1898) and Trafalgar Square (1945) — the approach to the architectural landscape
The development of the genre from antiquity to the present day: how did religion and the invention of oil painting contribute to the development of the genre in Europe, and why was the Hudson River so important? Read more
has changed over half a century, but the love for the intricacies of lines has remained!

Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo. The self-portrait genre has always been close to the artist, but over the years she learned more and more about herself, about life and about death (self-portraits of 1922 and 1940).
I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.
FRIDA KAHLO

Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richter. In this case, it is not only the comparison that is interesting. The artist recently refused to acknowledge his industrial landscape
The development of the genre from antiquity to the present day: how did religion and the invention of oil painting contribute to the development of the genre in Europe, and why was the Hudson River so important? Read more
painted in 1962 (pictured above). Art critics and collectors are in a panic: it seems that the famous abstractionist intends to edit his work retroactively and "withdraw his signatures" from his early works, which still had hints of realism. Of course, the author has the right to clean up his legacy and catalogues. But what about those who shell out money for his early experiments and considered it a good investment? The only ones who shouldn’t be worried are those who invested in Richter’s abstract compositions (as in the photo below).
Title illustration: portraits of women by early Picasso and Picasso, who found his own style.