Unusual Artwork by Famous Artists

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Unusual Artwork by Famous Artists

The world’s most famous artists can generally be bracketed into certain genres.
Salvador Dali was known for his expressionist work, while JMW Turner will always be remembered for his stunning landscapes.

On occasion, those artists like to break free from their stereotypes. We’ve seen some great painters switch from their recognised style to produce unusual works, and here are some of the best examples.

Vincent Van Gogh: Skeleton with a Burning Cigarette

There’s no starry, starry night or golden field in this painting. While he was studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Vincent Van Gogh produced a much darker piece of work.

The title is self-explanatory, and the painting depicts a skeleton from the chest upwards, with a lit cigarette in its mouth. Van Gogh completed this in 1886. At the time, anatomical artworks were a regular part of a student’s life, but this unusual take may not have fitted the original brief.

Skeleton with a Burning Cigarette is one of the most unexpected works from this iconic artist.

Edvard Munch: At the Roulette Table in Monte Carlo

Munch is best remembered by laymen for producing The Scream, a work that portrays anxiety and the human condition. Produced in 1893, this was seen to be typical of Edvard Munch’s overall portfolio.

A year earlier, the artist produced a work that focused on a lighter subject. At the Roulette Table in Monte Carlo features a group of players crowding around a table and enjoying their favourite game. As the roulette wheel spins, you can feel the atmosphere of the casino, with clear excitement on the faces.

The characters that are taking part in the game are typical of Munch’s unique style, but it’s the subject matter that takes a leap from the types of works that he is known for.

Michelangelo: Night

The Italian High Renaissance figure Michelangelo will be remembered for both his stunning paintings and sculptures. Michelangelo’s David is the most famous example of the latter, and is typical of his style.

Attention to detail in his male sculptures helps to make them stand out, but that intricacy wasn’t quite evident in his female works. Night is a perfect example of how Michelangelo was either unable or unwilling to accurately depict the female form.

Essentially, a muscular, clearly male torso is used. Night, and other sculptures are still considered to be the work of a genius, but they are not what you would expect.

L.S. Lowry: Unemployed

English painter L.S. Lowry will mostly be remembered for his matchstick depictions of the human form. Against bleak backdrops from the North of England, a multitude of stick characters are going about their daily lives.

The fact that Lowry was an accomplished portrait artist has been completely forgotten, but this particular work should serve as a reminder. Unemployed was recently sold at auction, and it shows another character from Lowry’s environment. Sitting outside of the factory gates, his blank expression underlines envy of those who are working inside.

This wasn’t a one-off diversion, and Lowry produced many other portraits, but he’ll always be linked to his matchstick men and matchstick cats and dogs.

Pablo Picasso: The Old Guitarist

One of the greatest impressionist painters of all time, Pablo Picasso, would take many diversions throughout his career. During these times, he produced works with more recognizable characters, and The Old Guitarist is a perfect example.

This painting was completed in 1903, during Picasso’s Blue Period, a time when he sank into a great depression. Most of his works in the first four years of the twentieth century were monochromatic, reflecting his mood. The Old Guitarist features an elderly man with his instrument, and it is a typical painting from this dark, but productive Blue Period.

Salvador Dalí: Forgotten Horizon

Picasso and Salvador Dalí will always battle for the right to be known as the greatest of all impressionists. Dalí’s most famous works involve bizarre themes and objects, but he also had more to offer the art world.

Forgotten Horizon from 1936 depicts a beach scene from the Spanish coastal resort of Rosas. The tide is out and a lonely boat is cast adrift. On the beach itself, three beguiling dancers grace the left side of the painting.

It’s not quite true to life, and Dalí is portraying the imagination and the subconscious, two of his regular themes. The dancers look out of place, but Forgotten Horizon lacks Dalí’s more bizarre elements.

Everybody likes to take a creative diversion at times. Whether it’s a crime novel by a TV presenter or a song from a soap opera star, it seems that creative people do not like to be bracketed with a certain genre.

It’s the same with the great artists. We’ll always remember the names on this list for creating work in a certain style, but there is clearly more to their repertoire than most of us realised.

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