Discover more about the history of art and what happened on this day in the past.

H R Giger

Born February 5 in Chur, Switzerland, Giger was best known for his “biomechanical” airbrushed images that blended human physiques with machines. He was also responsible for creating the “Alien” creature for the film of the same name. His work is permanently featured in a dedicated museum in Gruyères. This is: Mikrokosmos (it reminded me of the cover of the Emerson, Lake and Palmer album – Brain Salad Surgery, and it turns out he created that too.)

Fernand Léger

Born February 4, 1881 in Argentan France, Léger was a key influence on pop artists of the . Initially trained as an architect, he switched to painting and developed his own style based on (and named similarly to) cubism – he called this tubism, due to his frequent use of tubular and conical forms. He survived two years in the trenches during WW1 and understandably was highly influenced by what he had experienced. His paintings, even those of humans, took on an industrial aspect, and were often based around stylized geometric forms. This is: Railway Crossing

Gerome Kamrowski

Born January 29, 1914 in Minnesota, Kamrowski was a pioneer in the American Surrealist and Abstract Expressionist Movements. He is best known for his work with Jackson Pollock (and William Baziotes) moving from Surrealist image-coaxing techniques to Action Painting, after a session experimenting with dripping laquer paint. This is: The Open Twist

Milford Zornes

Born January 25 1908 in Oklahoma, Zornes became known for his watercolour works in the “California Style”. An early talent for drawing developed but he was unable to settle down, studying architecture and engineering but not really being prepared to study for either. Reverting to his passion for art, during The Depression he focused on watercolours on paper, possibly due to their inexpensive nature compared to oil and canvas. He had an urge to travel but many of his works depict American landscapes. This is: Mount San Antonio.

Jack Perlmutter

Born January 23 1920, Perlmutter referred to himself as an abstract realist, although this appears to combine two seemingly irreconcilable artistic styles. His works were typically built around recognizable urban scenes, such as railroad tracks, urban crowds and buildings or bridges. He typically overlaid his work with busy linear forms, often in bright colors – this is: Boardwalk.

Antonio Mattei

Born 9 January 1900 in New Jersey, Mattei was a painter of primitive landscapes, primarily of Alaska and northern US states. Little known, he sold most of his work through a small gallery in his home town of Ogunquit, Maine. This is: Perkins Cove.

Louis Ritman

Born January 6, 1889 in Ukraine, Louis Ritman was an American impressionist painter. He is best known for his paintings of women. He moved with his family to Chicago around 1900 and studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts before moving to the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. His favourite subject was the female nude, often painted in dappled sunlight or in chromatic interiors. This is: In the Garden

Frances Gearhart

Born January 4 1869 in Illinois, Gearhart was an American printmaker and watercolorist. She was known for her boldly drawn and colored American landscapes, typically woodcut or linocut prints featuring California’s coasts and mountains. She worked in a traditional Japanese relief-printing method, being one of the first artists to bring this technique to Europe and America, creating a separate block for each color in the final print, with individual prints requiring up to eight separate blocks. This is: Fair Weather

Charles Hinman

Born Dec 29 1932 in New York State, Hinman is an artist and sometime professional baseball player. After his artistic training, he served in the army for two years and then taught mechanical drawing. From here he combined these skills and specialized his artistic talents, focusing on abstract representation of 3D shapes on canvas. Using a technique of underpinning the canvas with reverse ribs to provide contours to his works, he then uses colour to complement or contrast the physical shape.

Lucian Freud

Born 8 December 1922 in Berlin, Freud, grandson of Sigmund, became known as one of the foremost British portrait painters of the 20th Century. Early in his career, he was influenced by surrealism, but later, starker, paintings tended towards realism. Words like “sombre”, “unsettling” and “discomforting” are often used when describing his works. He worked almost exclusively with live models, and was known for asking for extended and punishing sittings. Here is his portrait of a fellow British great, David Hockney.

Wassily Kandinsky

Born 4 Dec 1866 (according to the Julian calendar that the Russians were using at the time) in Moscow, Kandinsky claimed to be the first abstract painter, with this work, Composition V. It’s viewable in the MoMA in New York. His Blue Rider painting had already showed the direction he would later take, and he formed the distinguished group of the same name with artists such as Macke and Marc. Undeniably influential, he used colour as an expression of emotion, and is said to have likened the process of painting to composing music.

Georges Seurat

Born 2 Dec 1859 in Paris, Seurat is known as the founder of pointillism and used this trademark style to great effect. His paintings, Sunday Afternoon at Grand Jatte and Bathers are the best known of his works, but over 200 paintings are known to exist. Seurat took a scientific approach to his art, believing that a painter could use colour to create harmony and emotion in art in the same way that a musician uses counterpoint and variation to create harmony in music. The flat structure of his work is said to have inspired the Cubists in the early 20th Century. Here’s Entrance to the harbour at Port en Bessin.