You Gotta Know These 20th-Century Paintings

This list focuses on individual paintings rather than bodies of work; thus, for example, Georgia O’Keeffe is not included because no specific one of her familiar cowskull-and-flower paintings is sufficiently prominent. The list is notably skewed toward the first half of the 20th century; only one work on it was painted after 1950. Perhaps the earlier paintings have simply had more time to be influential and make their way into the artistic canon. Also, many prominent post-1950 painters, like Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, do not have a specific work with a catchy title that has gained particular attention above all others; like O’Keeffe, they are known for their style and collective body of work rather than for any one painting.

Among the many other notable individual paintings are The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even by Marcel Duchamp, Red Room by Henri Matisse, Mystery and Melancholy of a Street by Giorgio de Chirico, The Twittering Machine by Paul Klee, the incomplete Man at the Crossroads by Diego Rivera, The Kiss by Gustav Klimt, and Time Transfixed by René Magritte. Two notable painting series are the Woman series of Willem de Kooning and the White on White series by Kasimir Malevich.

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