The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary American Artists of all time. This list of famous American Artists is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of American Artists.
With an HPI of 84.77, Andy Warhol is the most famous American Artist. His biography has been translated into 128 different languages on wikipedia.
Andy Warhol (; born Andrew Warhola; August 6, 1928 – February 22, 1987) was an American artist, film director, and producer who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art. His works explore the relationship between artistic expression, advertising, and celebrity culture that flourished by the 1960s, and span a variety of media, including painting, silkscreening, photography, film, and sculpture. Some of his best known works include the silkscreen paintings Campbell's Soup Cans (1962) and Marilyn Diptych (1962), the experimental films Empire (1964) and Chelsea Girls (1966), and the multimedia events known as the Exploding Plastic Inevitable (1966–67). Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Warhol initially pursued a successful career as a commercial illustrator. After exhibiting his work in several galleries in the late 1950s, he began to receive recognition as an influential and controversial artist. His New York studio, The Factory, became a well-known gathering place that brought together distinguished intellectuals, drag queens, playwrights, Bohemian street people, Hollywood celebrities, and wealthy patrons. He promoted a collection of personalities known as Warhol superstars, and is credited with inspiring the widely used expression "15 minutes of fame". In the late 1960s he managed and produced the experimental rock band The Velvet Underground and founded Interview magazine. He authored numerous books, including The Philosophy of Andy Warhol and Popism: The Warhol Sixties. He lived openly as a gay man before the gay liberation movement. In June 1968, he was almost killed by radical feminist Valerie Solanas who shot him inside his studio.After gallbladder surgery, Warhol died of cardiac arrhythmia in February 1987 at the age of 58. Warhol has been the subject of numerous retrospective exhibitions, books, and feature and documentary films. The Andy Warhol Museum in his native city of Pittsburgh, which holds an extensive permanent collection of art and archives, is the largest museum in the United States dedicated to a single artist. Many of his creations are very collectible and highly valuable. The highest price ever paid for a Warhol painting is US$105 million for a 1963 canvas titled Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster); his works include some of the most expensive paintings ever sold. A 2009 article in The Economist described Warhol as the "bellwether of the art market".
With an HPI of 76.42, Roy Lichtenstein is the 2nd most famous American Artist. His biography has been translated into 53 different languages.
Roy Fox Lichtenstein (; October 27, 1923 – September 29, 1997) was an American pop artist. During the 1960s, along with Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, and James Rosenquist among others, he became a leading figure in the new art movement. His work defined the premise of pop art through parody. Inspired by the comic strip, Lichtenstein produced precise compositions that documented while they parodied, often in a tongue-in-cheek manner. His work was influenced by popular advertising and the comic book style. His artwork was considered to be "disruptive". He described pop art as "not 'American' painting but actually industrial painting". His paintings were exhibited at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York City. Whaam! and Drowning Girl are generally regarded as Lichtenstein's most famous works. Drowning Girl, Whaam!, and Look Mickey are regarded as his most influential works. His most expensive piece is Masterpiece, which was sold for $165 million in January 2017.
With an HPI of 71.38, Keith Haring is the 3rd most famous American Artist. His biography has been translated into 49 different languages.
Keith Allen Haring (May 4, 1958 – February 16, 1990) was an American artist whose pop art emerged from the New York City graffiti subculture of the 1980s. His animated imagery has "become a widely recognized visual language". Much of his work includes sexual allusions that turned into social activism by using the images to advocate for safe sex and AIDS awareness. In addition to solo gallery exhibitions, Haring participated in renowned national and international group shows such as documenta in Kassel, the Whitney Biennial in New York, the São Paulo Biennial, and the Venice Biennale. The Whitney Museum held a retrospective of his art in 1997. Haring's popularity grew from his spontaneous drawings in New York City subways—chalk outlines of figures, dogs, and other stylized images on blank black advertising spaces. After gaining public recognition, he created colorful larger scale murals, many commissioned. He produced more than 50 public artworks between 1982 and 1989, many were created voluntarily for hospitals, day care centers, and schools. In 1986, Haring opened the Pop Shop as an extension of his work. His later work often conveyed political and societal themes— anti-crack, anti-apartheid, safe sex, homosexuality and AIDS—through his own iconography.Haring died on February 16, 1990, of AIDS-related complications. In 2014, Haring was one of the inaugural honorees in the Rainbow Honor Walk in San Francisco, a walk of fame noting LGBTQ people who have "made significant contributions in their fields." In 2019, Haring was one of the inaugural fifty American "pioneers, trailblazers, and heroes" inducted on the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor within the Stonewall National Monument in New York City's Stonewall Inn.
With an HPI of 69.02, Barnett Newman is the 4th most famous American Artist. His biography has been translated into 27 different languages.
Barnett Newman (January 29, 1905 – July 4, 1970) was an American artist. He is seen as one of the major figures in abstract expressionism and one of the foremost of the color field painters. His paintings are existential in tone and content, explicitly composed with the intention of communicating a sense of locality, presence, and contingency.
With an HPI of 68.23, Jeff Koons is the 5th most famous American Artist. His biography has been translated into 35 different languages.
Jeffrey Lynn Koons (; born January 21, 1955) is an American artist recognized for his work dealing with popular culture and his sculptures depicting everyday objects, including balloon animals produced in stainless steel with mirror-finish surfaces. He lives and works in both New York City and his hometown of York, Pennsylvania. His works have sold for substantial sums, including at least two record auction prices for a work by a living artist: $58.4 million for Balloon Dog (Orange) in 2013 and $91.1 million for Rabbit in 2019.Critics are sharply divided in their views of Koons. Some view his work as pioneering and of major art-historical importance. Others dismiss his work as kitsch, crass, and based on cynical self-merchandising. Koons has stated that there are no hidden meanings and critiques in his works.
With an HPI of 67.93, Jean-Michel Basquiat is the 6th most famous American Artist. His biography has been translated into 44 different languages.
Jean-Michel Basquiat (French: [ʒɑ̃ miʃɛl baskja]; December 22, 1960 – August 12, 1988) was an American artist who rose to success during the 1980s. Regarded as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, he was part of the Neo-expressionism movement. Basquiat first achieved fame as part of SAMO, a graffiti duo who wrote enigmatic epigrams in the cultural hotbed of the Lower East Side of Manhattan during the late 1970s, where rap, punk, and street art coalesced into early hip-hop music culture. By the early 1980s, his paintings were being exhibited in galleries and museums internationally. At 21, Basquiat became the youngest artist to ever take part in documenta in Kassel. At 22, he was the youngest to exhibit at the Whitney Biennial in New York. The Whitney Museum of American Art held a retrospective of his art work in 1992. Basquiat's art focused on dichotomies such as wealth versus poverty, integration versus segregation, and inner versus outer experience. He appropriated poetry, drawing, and painting, and married text and image, abstraction, figuration, and historical information mixed with contemporary critique. He used social commentary in his paintings as a tool for introspection and for identifying with his experiences in the Black community of his time, as well as attacks on power structures and systems of racism. His visual poetics were acutely political and direct in their criticism of colonialism and support for class struggle. Since Basquiat's death at the age of 27 from a heroin overdose in 1988, his work has steadily increased in value. At a Sotheby's auction in May 2017, Untitled, a 1982 painting by Basquiat depicting a black skull with red and yellow rivulets, sold for $110.5 million, becoming one of the most expensive paintings ever purchased. It also set a new record high for an American artist at auction.
With an HPI of 67.81, Louis Comfort Tiffany is the 7th most famous American Artist. His biography has been translated into 30 different languages.
Louis Comfort Tiffany (February 18, 1848 – January 17, 1933) was an American artist and designer who worked in the decorative arts and is best known for his work in stained glass. He is the American artist most associated with the Art Nouveau and Aesthetic movements. He was affiliated with a prestigious collaborative of designers known as the Associated Artists, which included Lockwood de Forest, Candace Wheeler, and Samuel Colman. Tiffany designed stained glass windows and lamps, glass mosaics, blown glass, ceramics, jewelry, enamels, and metalwork. He was the first design director at his family company, Tiffany & Co., founded by his father Charles Lewis Tiffany.
With an HPI of 66.40, James Montgomery Flagg is the 8th most famous American Artist. His biography has been translated into 20 different languages.
James Montgomery Flagg (June 18, 1877 – May 27, 1960) was an American artist, comics artist and illustrator. He worked in media ranging from fine art painting to cartooning, but is best remembered for his political posters.
With an HPI of 64.67, Judy Chicago is the 9th most famous American Artist. Her biography has been translated into 29 different languages.
Judy Chicago (born Judith Sylvia Cohen; July 20, 1939) is an American feminist artist, art educator, and writer known for her large collaborative art installation pieces about birth and creation images, which examine the role of women in history and culture. During the 1970s, Chicago founded the first feminist art program in the United States at California State University Fresno (formerly Fresno State College) and acted as a catalyst for feminist art and art education. Her inclusion in hundreds of publications in various areas of the world showcases her influence in the worldwide art community. Additionally, many of her books have been published in other countries, making her work more accessible to international readers. Chicago's work incorporates a variety of artistic skills, such as needlework, counterbalanced with labor-intensive skills such as welding and pyrotechnics. Chicago's most well known work is The Dinner Party, which is permanently installed in the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum. The Dinner Party celebrates the accomplishments of women throughout history and is widely regarded as the first epic feminist artwork. Other notable art projects by Chicago include International Honor Quilt, The Birth Project, Powerplay, and The Holocaust Project.Chicago was included in Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2018.
With an HPI of 64.60, Vito Acconci is the 10th most famous American Artist. His biography has been translated into 21 different languages.
Vito Acconci (Italian: [ˈviːto akˈkontʃi], ; January 24, 1940 – April 27, 2017) was an influential American performance, video and installation artist, whose diverse practice eventually included sculpture, architectural design, and landscape design. His foundational performance and video art was characterized by "existential unease," exhibitionism, discomfort, transgression and provocation, as well as wit and audacity, and often involved crossing boundaries such as public–private, consensual–nonconsensual, and real world–art world. His work is considered to have influenced artists including Laurie Anderson, Karen Finley, Bruce Nauman, and Tracey Emin, among others. Acconci was initially interested in radical poetry, but by the late 1960s, he began creating Situationist-influenced performances in the street or for small audiences that explored the body and public space. Two of his most famous pieces were Following Piece (1969), in which he selected random passersby on New York City streets and followed them for as long as he was able, and Seedbed (1972), in which he claimed that he masturbated while under a temporary floor at the Sonnabend Gallery, as visitors walked above and heard him speaking.In the late-1970s, he turned to sculpture, architecture and design, greatly increasing the scale of his work, if not his art world profile. Over the next two decades he developed public artworks and parks, airport rest areas, artificial islands and other architectural projects that frequently embraced participation, change and playfulness. Notable works of this period include: Personal Island, designed for Zwolle, the Netherlands (1994); Walkways Through the Wall at the Wisconsin Center, in Milwaukee, WI (1998); and Murinsel, for Graz, Austria (2003). Retrospectives of Acconci's work have been organized by the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (1978) and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1980), and his work is in numerous public collections, including those of the Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum of American Art. He has been recognized with fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1976, 1980, 1983, 1993), John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (1979), and American Academy in Rome (1986). In addition to his art and design work, Acconci taught at many higher learning institutions. Landmarks, the public art program of The University of Texas at Austin, exhibited Theme Song (1973) and archived an essay dedicated to Acconci and his work on their website Acconci died on April 28, 2017 in Manhattan at age 77.
Pantheon has 18 people classified as artists born between 1848 and 1960. Of these 18, 5 (27.78%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living artists include Jeff Koons, Judy Chicago, and Dan Graham. The most famous deceased artists include Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Keith Haring. As of October 2020, 4 new artists have been added to Pantheon including Gordon Matta-Clark, Carolee Schneemann, and Dan Graham.
1928 - 1987
1923 - 1997
1958 - 1990
1905 - 1970
1960 - 1988
1848 - 1933
1877 - 1960
1940 - 2017
1928 - 2018
1951 - 2017
1911 - 1978
1943 - 1978
Which Artists were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 13 most globally memorable Artists since 1700.