21 Figure Paintings You Must See

BY MAX GILLIES

Everyone has one, so everyone is interested, to a lesser or greater degree. I’m referring to the human body, surely the most important touchstone in the history of art. Artists have been depicting the figure for millennia, sometimes in exacting detail and sometimes vaguely, but always with the understanding that every viewer has a direct connection with the subject — and also a way of assessing the rendition’s accuracy.

The ongoing renaissance of classical realism means that figure drawing and painting have not been this good in North America for half a century. Though it would be easy to fill this section with examples from the classical ateliers, we have mixed it up here stylistically. Enjoy this array of approaches, and let us know which figure artists you are following these days.

1. “Desire Guides Imagination” by Robin Cole

Contemporary figure paintings
ROBIN COLE (b. 1985), “Desire Guides Imagination,” 2018, oil on linen, 24 x 30 in., available through the artist

2. “My Very Own Star” by Marianna Foster

Contemporary figure paintings
MARIANNA FOSTER (b. 1982), “My Very Own Star,” 2018, oil on canvas, 24 x 20 in., available through the artist

3. “AJ” by Matthew Bird

Contemporary watercolor figure paintings
MATTHEW BIRD (b. 1977), “AJ,” 2019, watercolor on paper, 15 x 22 in., available through the artist

4. “Inside Looking Out” by Palden Hamilton

Contemporary figurative art
PALDEN HAMILTON (b. 1980), “Inside Looking Out,” 2020, oil on aluminum composite panel, 32 x 23 in., private collection

5. “The Traveler” by Stephanie Deshpande

Contemporary figure paintings
STEPHANIE DESHPANDE (b. 1975), “The Traveler,” 2018, oil on linen, 30 x 40 in., available through the artist

6. “Entangled” by Alexandra Manukyan

Contemporary figure paintings
ALEXANDRA MANUKYAN (b. 1963), “Entangled,” 2020, oil on linen, 24 x 12 in., Rehs Contemporary Gallery, New York City

7. “Bugeisha” by Edi Matsumoto

Figurative art
EDI MATSUMOTO (b. 1964), “Bugeisha,” 2020, oil on canvas, 40 x 30 in., available through the artist

8. “Subversion” by Christopher Remmers

Contemporary figure paintings
CHRISTOPHER REMMERS (b. 1982), “Subversion,” 2020, oil on canvas, 30 x 24 in., available through the artist

9. “Sam with Miraak” by Catherine Prescott

Contemporary portrait paintings
CATHERINE PRESCOTT (b. 1944), “Sam with Miraak,” 2018, oil on canvas, 38 x 30 1/2 in., available through the artist

10. “Resurrection” by Christina Ramos

Contemporary realism art
CHRISTINA RAMOS (b. 1961), “Resurrection,” 2019, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 36 in., available through the artist

11. “The Kiss” by Tim Rees

Contemporary figure paintings
TIMOTHY REES (b. 1985), “The Kiss,” 2019, oil on linen panel, 45 x 45 in., private collection

12. “Waiting for the Return” by Suzy Schultz

Contemporary portrait paintings
SUZY SCHULTZ (b. 1959), “Waiting for the Return,” 2019, watercolor on paper, 16 x 21 1/2 in., available through the artist

13. “Cheating at Solitaire” by Marc A. Duquette

Contemporary figure paintings
MARC A. DUQUETTE (b. 1973), “Cheating at Solitaire,” 2018, oil on canvas on board, 22 x 23 in., available through the artist

14. “The Veteran” by Charles Warren Mundy

Oil portrait paintings
CHARLES WARREN MUNDY (b. 1945), “The Veteran,” 2018, 40 x 30 in., Vanessa Rothe Fine Art, Laguna Beach, California

15. “Sleepless” by Omalix

Contemporary figure paintings
OMALIX (b. 1982), “Sleepless,” 2016, oil on linen, 42 x 24 in., available through 33 Contemporary’s page on artsy.net

16. “Standing Room Only” by Scott Prior

Contemporary figure paintings
SCOTT W. PRIOR (b. 1968), “Standing Room Only,” 2020, oil on panel, 48 x 60 in., available through the artist

17. “Dancing with Unicorn” by Pavel Ouporov

Contemporary artists
PAVEL OUPOROV (b. 1966), “Dancing with Unicorn,” 2020, oil on canvas, 72 x 48 in., available through the artist

18. “It Doesn’t Melt” by Rachel Linnemeier

Contemporary artists
RACHEL LINNEMEIER (b. 1989), “It Doesn’t Melt,” 2019, oil on aluminum panel, 20 x 16 in., available through the artist

19. “Gather Your Thoughts and Let Them Go” by Riley Doyle

Contemporary artists
RILEY DOYLE (b. 1990), “Gather Your Thoughts and Let Them Go,” 2019, oil on panel, 36 x 18 in., available through 33 Contemporary’s page on artsy.net

20. “Beginnings” by Sally Strand

Pastel on paper
SALLY STRAND (b. 1954), “Beginnings,” 2017, pastel on paper, 24 x 18 in., available through the artist

21. “Under the Influence” by Doug Webb

Contemporary magical realism
DOUG WEBB (b. 1946), “Under the Influence,” 2020, acrylic on linen canvas, 30 x 24 in., available through 33 Contemporary’s page on artsy.net

Max Gillies is a contributing writer to Fine Art Connoisseur. Discover more figure paintings here.


> Sign up to receive Fine Art Today, our free weekly e-newsletter featuring contemporary figure paintings, exhibition announcements, and much more

> Click here to subscribe to Fine Art Connoisseur magazine, so you never miss an issue

1 COMMENT

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here