Famous English Artists Capturing the Public’s Imagination with Their Masterpieces


Britain has made a major contribution to world art history. Experts and art historians claim that modern art originated in Britain. The influence of this culture cannot be disputed as there is an abundance of evidence in the form of famous contemporary British artists and other figures in the arts.

We can say that UK contemporary art as a whole is unique and very different from that of the rest of the world. Such features make creations by British contemporary painters famous all over the world.

We want to introduce you to the most interesting English artists of this era of art.

You can see this as an opportunity to soak in the atmosphere of creativity and appreciate centuries of British art history.

But what is the concept of modern art, and what distinguishes it from other art movements? The answers are listed below.

The Concept of Contemporary Art

Contemporary art is a very dual concept. As you know, the Institute of Modern Art was founded in London in 1947, while the Museum of Modern Art in New York was not founded until 1977.

And in the early 1970s, the term ‘postmodern’ was introduced. So what should be considered the beginning of a new era in the creative world?

British art became very popular after the Renaissance and Baroque periods.

Modern work from popular British artists can be described as the art of the present! One of the clear characteristics of modern and contemporary art is the move away from the usual aesthetic beauty of the creation of art to the concept and the unique idea behind it. Now the end result has become less important than the journey an artist has made.

Top 13 British Contemporary Artists

Our list of English artists could go on and on. After all, contemporary art is so relevant and meaningful to today’s society that this list of UK artists changes as the era and style evolve.

But many of the names on this list have become very important to British art history now.

So, get ready to meet unique people.

Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon art

Francis Bacon was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1909, but his work spans crucial aspects in art. Modern and new. Although he dabbled mainly in abstract art, his focus was on the human form and signature style. The United Kingdom artist inspired an entire generation of famous English painters. Francis will forever be known as the record holder for the highest prices for paintings sold at auction. Bacon’s painting Three Studies of Lucian Freud sold for $142.4 million at auction in New York. And that’s certainly a serious achievement!

John Constable

John Constable

John Constable was the most influential and famous Romantic British painter. He was deeply attached to the area where he was born – the Essex-Suffolk border in the east of England. His best-known masterpieces depict the landscapes of the area. Constable rebelled against the neoclassical style that used standard techniques to create his landscapes. He focused on nature itself to show its beauty and power. He only sold 20 paintings in England in his lifetime, although he made an invaluable contribution to the genre of landscape painting and created some of the most mesmerizing paintings England has ever produced by any top British artist.

Henry Moore

Henry Moore in Hoglands

Henry Moore was a pioneer in modern sculpture and is regarded as one of the greatest English sculptors. Henry is best known for his semi-abstract monumental bronze sculptures, which are located all over the world as public works of art. His forms are usually abstractions of the human figure. He became an international celebrity in the 1940s and has directly influenced several generations of famous English artists.

David Hockney

David Hockney art

Born in Bradford, England, David Hockney studied at Bradford College of Art, and after two years in the army, he enrolled in postgraduate studies at the Royal College of Art in London, where his work was sold.

This famous artist from London became a pop art artist and created masterpieces such as “Splash”, “Bigger Splash” and “American Collectors”. And his 1972 painting “Portrait of an Artist” became one of the best known around the world.

Peter Doig

Peter Doig is still on the list of best-known contemporary British artists. His work spans several decades and is presented as masterpieces. Doig’s focus is on creativity rather than fame, so all of his work focuses on storytelling and description. Excellent examples of the artist’s conceptual work can be “White Canoe” and “The Architect’s House in the Gully”.

Tracey Emin

Tracey was born in Croydon in 1963. She is considered one of the great Young British Artists (YBAs) who rose to prominence in the nineties. Tracey’s masterpieces of art depict her life as she imagines it in various media – installations, sculptures, drawings, and photographs. Some of her best-known works include “My Bed”, “Everyone I Ever Slept With” and “Sad Shower in New York”.

Barbara Hepworth

Barbara Hepworth

Barbara Hepworth was born in 1903 in Wakefield, Yorkshire. She created England’s earliest abstract sculptures. Barbara Hepworth had an incredible taste and flair for art. Her work has inspired many famous contemporary British artists, and you can now visit her studio in St Ives.

Lucian Freud

Lucian Freud

Grandson of Sigmund Freud, Lucian Freud became one of the founders of the modern era. His work spans several periods, but his most important works are “Sleeping Benefit Controller”, “David Dawson” and “Self-Portrait Reflections”. His paintings represented a harsh style of realism. But it has also been a source of inspiration for many British modern artists, such as Jenny Saville.

Sleeping Benefit Controller

Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, “Young British Artist” fellow, was born in 1970 in Cambridge. She became known for her aesthetic paintings of women, which often included self-portraits.

Savile became not only one of Britain’s most successful portrait painters, but she also became famous as an artist exploring the nature of the female body, and in painting she has been compared to Freud.

Richard Hamilton

Richard Hamilton

Richard Hamilton is the founder of Pop Art, an era of British art. He was focused on pop culture and the ordinary. Born in London in 1922, Richard’s road to success was not an easy one. Dropping out of art classes and being thrown out of college, Richard completed his schooling at the Royal Academy. He later founded his own art movement, which included several other modern British artists, architects and sculptors. Richard’s most famous work, “What makes modern houses so different, so attractive?” is considered the beginning of English Pop Art.



Banksy is probably one of the most famous British artists of our generation. His work – mostly representing the genre of street art. They can be seen in the film Ocean’s 8 Girlfriends. However, for all his fame and notoriety, Banksy is the only artist who remains anonymous.

Some of his best known works include “Love is In The Air”, “Napalm” and the very dark but impressive installation “Dismaland”.

Sir Peter Blake

Sir Peter Blake

Over the course of his long and distinguished career, the well known contemporary artist, achieved almost iconic status in the pantheon of British art, finding himself at the forefront of the pop art movement of the 1960s. He is perhaps best known as the cover artist for The Beatles’ album Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. His work is graphic in nature, using form and color in a highly original pictorial manner. His use of flat color and lines exemplifies and describes his work, while also demonstrating his finely detailed painting style. He is now called the ‘godfather of British Pop Art’.

Joseph Mallord William Turner

Joseph Mallord William Turner

Joseph Mallord William Turner was born in London in 1775.

He entered school at the Royal Academy at the age of 14 and later worked as a modern british reproduction artist in the studio of Thomas Malton.

In his mature years, the famous London artist turned to topographical watercolour work combined with numerous oil painting techniques, influenced by his travels around the world.

Turner is recognised as one of the finest romantic landscape British painters.

All of these people have had a huge artistic impact on the world. But arguably, many of the most eccentric and creative personalities have yet to receive the fame they deserve.

Contemporary art does not stand still and is constantly evolving. And consequently, the list must be filled with new talent every year.

Today, you can find masterpieces of contemporary art in galleries and art collections all over the world. And we can even say that they are worth more than the works of the most prominent and famous UK artists in history.

We believe that since contemporary art plays an important role in shaping cultural and political attitudes, it’s important for you to study and learn more about this art form.

Where to Look for Contemporary Art Today?

And now we’re sharing with you a list of famous British art galleries and museums that we highly recommend you visit.

  • British Museum
  • National Gallery
  • Victoria & Albert Museum (for applied art)
  • Tate Britain
  • Tate Gallery
  • Tate Modern
  • Design Museum
  • Portrait Gallery
  • Serpentine Gallery
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