Picasso or Warhol? Basquiat or Duchamp?

30th September 1955: Pablo Picasso (1881 - 1973), Spanish painter and pioneer of Cubism. (Photo by George Stroud/Express/Getty Images)
30th September 1955: Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973), Spanish painter and pioneer of Cubism. (Getty)

Who Truly Dominated 20th Century Modern Art?

100 years produces a lot of ripple effects. Especially in the art world. But who made the biggest splash? In 20th century modern art there are tons of contenders and plenty of opinions to go around. Was it Picasso or Duchamp? Jump forward a few decades. Was it Basquiat who comes to mind or Andy Warhol?

In a fascinating round-up of opinions, ArtNet News sought to answer this question by asking 26 “industry leaders” to sound off on their picks of the single most influential artist of the 20th century. The list has a lot of big names, plenty of repeats, a few surprises, and several newcomers!

Big Names

This who’s who list is dominated by big names. Also known as safe bets! But who can blame anyone for choosing artists like Warhol and Duchamp? They were titans of modern art and made names for themselves with iconic artwork and personality to spare. Flip through any modern art history and you’ll find these (mostly) guys.

Jeff Koons

Jackson Pollock

Piet Mondrian

Eve Hesse

Louise Borgeois

Damien Hirst

Plenty of Repeats

Several artists were called out more than once. There seems to be a three-way tie between Picasso, Warhol and Duchamp though some voters cast a single vote and others gave a lengthy list, which kinda skews the results. Cindy Sherman, Felix Gonzalez-Torres and Basquiat were a bit further behind in votes but still got on the board more than once. Here’s a look at some of the winning artists broken down by vote count.

Andy Warhol — 8 votes

Marcel Duchamp — 8 votes

Pablo Picasso — 8 votes

Felix Gonzalez-Torres — 3 votes

Jackson Pollock — 3 votes

Cindy Sherman — 2 votes

Jean-Michel Basquiat — 2 votes

Louise Bourgeois — 2 votes

Eva Hesse — 2 votes

Which artists dominate modern art? Ryan Trecartin's works titled World Wall and Vicky Veterinarian (kneeling), both from 2006, on display at the Royal Academy of Arts in central London, as part of the USA Today exhibition. (Photo by Steve Parsons - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
Ryan Trecartin’s works titled World Wall and Vicky Veterinarian (kneeling), both from 2006, on display at the Royal Academy of Arts in central London, as part of the USA Today exhibition. (Photo by Steve Parsons – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

A Few Surprises and Newcomers

There were several artists who made the cut who aren’t necessarily newcomers to art-making, but are definitely the youngest of this bunch as in still alive and kicking. Those include Kerry James Marshall, Marina Abramovic, Julie Mehretu and Nam June Paik among several others. A few names to take note of that may not be on your radar include Vaginal Davis, Hassan Sharif and Ryan Trecartin.

The Biggest Question

I’m all for listening to industry leaders, but I really want to know who you think the powerhouse of modern art in the 20th century was. Leave a comment!

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Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.   

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