Who Are Considered The One-Hit Wonders Of The Art World?
Art4 Minutes Read

Who Are Considered The One-Hit Wonders Of The Art World?

July 19, 2022 Share

One-hit wonders are someone or something that achieves tremendous success for a short amount of time. We usually use this phrase in the music industry, but what about art?

Typically when we waffle on about what happened to all the one-hit wonders of the musical world, it ends up being quite entertaining. Reminiscing about all the good times when artists like Fountains of Wayne jammed out Stacey’s Mom or bucket-hat Wheatus and his band rocked out to Teenage Dirtbag.

From Tub Thumping by Chumbawamba, Story of a Girl by Nine Days to TEQUILA by the Champs (too old? Maybe), all these artists got their songs into the Top 40 charts and then made an abrupt stage right. But when it comes to the visual art world, it somehow seems more permanent.

Music lingers on your tongue and resides in your ears, but when it comes to the idea of physical art– those things lie in your visual memory, which takes on more lurid connotations. Think about it? Name one visual artist that skyrocketed onto a headline brochure at the most prestigious gallery and is now barely even seen.

Can’t remember? Here are a few one-hit wonders of the art world that we fell in love with once upon a time:

Richard Hamilton’s Pop Stick, Nipple Covers And Egg-Shaped Yam

one-hit wonders
Private Collection © Richard Hamilton ‘Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing?’, 1956/1992.

Richard Hamilton’s iconic collage is a search for what constitutes today’s home. With an array of desirable bits and bobs scattered throughout the image, it draws your attention to every object that the viewer could relate to. The two figures you see in the collage are a play on our contemporary Adam and Eve, and the American magazine clippings are a nod to the post-war consumer culture.

Created in 1956, the art piece is currently in possession of the Kunsthalle Tübingen, a well-known museum in Germany. The British Higdon Hat lover, Hamilton, brushed through the Pop Art movement after creating one of the earliest forms of pop, according to critics and historians. His reputation still stands strong as he successfully bridged the gap between consumer culture and high art. 

This collage was placed smack bang on an exhibition brochure for a Whitechapel Art Gallery event. Although he is relatively prosperous, this display piece is the most remembered above all others – not to mention it has one of the most extended titles going.

Grant Wood’s Awkward Sibling Portrait On A Farm

Grant Wood – American Gothic © Figge Art Museum, successors to the Estate of Nan Wood Graham/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Photograph courtesy Art Institute of Chicago/Art Resource, NY.

The painting of what seems like a sibling rivalry was inspired by a visit to Eldon in Iowa, the USA, when Grant Wood completed it in 1930. Entitled American Gothic, this tiny square soon brought him almost instant fame and provided him with the platform to promote American Regionalism to new aspiring artists. 

It is currently in the hands of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the value of this 74 cm x 62 cm board closed at a whopping $6.9 million to an unknown buyer during a Sotheby’s auction this year. According to Arts and Culture, “the painting offered something for everyone, from the city-goers claiming it was pure satirical of farmers to the farmers welcoming it in celebration.” 

It boomed and then, just like the artist, fell silent for a long, long time. However, it is still seen as a defining image of an era.

Edvard Munch’s Painting That Is So Relatable It Hurts

Edvard Munch, “The Scream”, 1893. Photo: Nasjonalmuseet / Børre Høstland

Yep, you heard it, the painting entitled The Scream. The bald wide-mouthed man is currently safe at The National Museum in Oslo. This iconic 1910 painting was completed after Munch had a zoned-out experience while taking a sunset stroll in Oslo.

He described the feeling as “having a dramatic red hue that overwhelmed his senses.” Nonetheless, The Scream was signalled out to be the most influential composition of the time and was re-produced in multiple commercialised ways till this day. 

Norwegian-born Munch suffered from bouts of mental illness and alcoholism; both issues are often reflected in his work. Even though he produced several pieces, Edvard Munch is on the one-hit-wonders list, but his pastel extravaganza sold Sotheby’sy’s in New York for $119 million in 2012.

There are plenty more one-hit wonders when it comes to the art world. These artists may have gone to sleep; their work, however, lives on.

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Author: Michelle Laver
Edvard Munch
Grant Wood
One Hit Wonder
Pop Art
Richard Hamilton
the scream