50 Artists Everyone Should Know!

Every year I expose my students to art history in a variety of ways. We look at specific artists (past and present) that are appropriate for a specific assignment. But, I also try to provide them with an understanding of art history in a larger context. Last year, it was 500 years of the Self-Portrait. The year before, it was The Flower through Art History – over 300 years.

This year, I thought I’d go bold and make a splashy list of “50 Artists Everyone Should Know”.  To no surprise, it became a list of mostly dead, white, American or European men – with a couple of women!  The inspiration to make this list came to me as I was looking through the Met Kids Catalogue (Great Gifts). They feature a “13 Artists Series”, and one of the books in the series is, “13 Artists Children Should Know.”  It got me thinking about my own students and more specifically about what they should know.  13 certainly isn’t enough, so I picked 50…and 50 isn’t enough either!

I wanted more styles, genres, women and racial diversity on the list, but 50 filled up fast! Due to my obsessive tendencies, my list of 50 Artists everyone should  know blossomed into another list: “190 Artists Worth Knowing!”  And even that list does not exhaust all of the possibilities – it’s a start…but not an end, so please, feel free to add to it! I already have, it’s now up to 200!

The teaching objective is simple….I want my eclectic group of art students to see just how much art there is to see – and to feel how much art there is worth making! Based on this lesson, my HS students will do a research blog post inspired by one of the 50, and will then use their artist of choice as the inspiration for a 3 piece ceramic tea set – (a cup, saucer and dessert plate). We will have an artists’ tea party this spring. I can’t wait!  Above is the slideshow that I prepared for my lesson.

You can download my lists of 50 and 200 from my OnCourse website. The moral of the lesson… for every 50 artists, there are many more worth knowing!  Art is exponential!

About Karen

Karen Kiick began her teaching career in 1990 in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Since 1996, she has taught at Haddon Township High School in Westmont, New Jersey. She is her District's K-12 Visual and Performing Arts Facilitator and currently teaches 9th through 12th grades. Karen is a five-time recipient (2005, 2010, 2013, 2015, 2017) of the New Jersey Governor’s Award for Excellence in Art Education. She is also the 2017 National Secondary Art Teacher of the Year and the 2015 NJ Art Educator of the Year.
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