Art history is tough. Not only is it difficult to keep in check the movements (Abstract Expressionist or Minimalism?), media (wait, is that oil paint or pastel?) and masterpieces (erm, "Venus of Urbino" or "Rokeby Venus"?), it's nearly IMPOSSIBLE to pronounce most artists' names.
We'll be the first to admit -- daunting names like Eadweard Muybridge, Jan van Eyck and Albrecht Dürer have sent our tongues into a fit of stupor. If you've never said Edvard Munch with more phonetic emphasis on the "ch" than is appropriate, you're just lying.
So, to help our readers navigate through the mess of tangled names that is art history, we've put together our suggested guide to
sounding smart in front of your friends correctly pronouncing those pesky monikers. Behold, 30 artists' names you are probably pronouncing wrong.
Note: There are, undoubtedly, more ways to pronounce these names. Our suggestions are based on the International Phonetic Alphabet for English speakers, but we'd love to hear how you pronounce some of the artists' names in the comments.
1. Hieronymus Bosch
"The Garden of Earthly Delights" (Wikimedia)
We'll start with a real challenge. This one has plagued every fan of "The Garden of Earthly Delights." The correct pronunciation: Hi-RAHN-eh-mus Bosh.
2. Wassily Kandinsky
"Ladies in Crinolines" (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
Ok, so it's probably just Mr. Kandinsky's first name that baffled you. It's VUH-sill-ee KAN-din-skee. No Wa-silly necessary. We doubt the Russian artist would have appreciated that strange nickname.
3. Katsushika Hokusai
"The Great Wave off Kanagawa" (Wikimedia)
You can't truly admire "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" without properly pronouncing the artist's name, right? Say it with us: Hoe-koo-SIGH. Or Hock-sigh if you can muster the speed.
4. Auguste Rodin
"The Thinker" (JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT/AFP/Getty Images)
The next time you're ogling the French sculptor's works, you can confidently comment on his impeccable craftsmanship with this helpful hint: It's Oh-GOOST Roh-DAN.
5. Georges Seurat
"A Sunday on La Grande Jatte" (Wikimedia)
No, it's not George. Try, Zhorzh Sir-AH.
6. Antoni Gaudi
(Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
The first name's a breeze. The second name is really just as easy: Gowdy (like Howdy).
7. Le Corbusier
"Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes" (EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
Impress your architecture-loving friends with a swift and smooth pronunciation of the design pioneer's name: Luh Cor-boo-see-YAY.
Remember this 13th century Italian painter and mosaicist? His name is pronounced Chee-ma-BOO-ay.
9. Mary Cassatt
No, it's not Cass-et. It's Cuh-SAHT. Now you can truly appreciate her works' impressionist beauty.
10. Albrecht Dürer
Don't say Der-er. Try All-brekt Dewr (or D-yer).
11. Alberto Giacometti
"La Main" (STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
When admiring the work of the Swiss sculptor, painter, and printmaker, you should say, "I really enjoy the surreal experimentation of Ja-koe-met-ee."
12. Théodore Géricault
"The Raft of the Medusa" (Wikimedia)
No one paints a better dramatically grim raft scene than Zhair-i-KOE.
13. Louis Daguerre
"Boulevard du Temple" (Wikimedia)
Without Da-GAIR, we would never have enjoyed the 19th century wonder that was the daguerreotype.
14. Gustave Courbet
The man behind the scandalous "Origin of the World" painting: Goo-STAHV Kor-BAY.
"The Nativity" (Wikimedia)
16. Jean Auguste Dominque Ingres
"Napoleon on his Imperial throne" (Wikimedia)
The French neoclassical painter looks as if his last name might be pronounced like "fingers" without the first consonant, but, in fact, it's An-gair (or Ang-r if your French accent is better than ours).
17. Eadweard Muybridge
"The Horse in Motion" (Wikimedia)
So. Many. Syllables. Tough them out with this pronunciation tip: Ed-werd MY-bridge.
18. Yves Tanguy
"The Doubter" (Photo by Walter Mori / Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
The illusive sixth vowel makes this one a bit overwhelming. The name is Eve Tang-ee.
"The Rape of Europa" (WIkimedia)
So short, yet somewhat difficult to decipher. Repeat after us: TISH-in.
20. Vincent van Gogh
"Self-Portrait" (AP Photo/ Kroeller-Mueller Museum)
Yes, you can say "Vincent van Go" or "Vincent van Goff," but a closer pronunciation of the Dutch name would actually be vun Khokh. It's obviously debatable.
21. Louise Bourgeois
"Spider Maman" (Photographer: David Ramos/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
How do you pronounce the name of the French-American sculptor known for her spider-like creations? Boo-ZHWA.
22. Paul Gauguin
"Te aa no areois (The Seed of the Areoi)" (Wikimedia)
The double "u" can really hold a person back. But it's just Paul Go-GAN.
23. Jan Van Eyck
"The Arnolfini Portrait" (Wikimedia)
Yawn vun EYE-k. Or "Fun" if you're feeling bold.
24. Edvard Munch
"The Scream" (Wikimedia)
Never Mun-ch, always Moonk.
"Le Moulin de la Galette" (Wikimedia)
"Oh, what a beautiful Ren-WA painting you have."
26. Edgar Degas
"The Dance Class" (Wikimedia)
You know he created more than a handful of ballet-inspired artworks, but you're unsure of how to say his name? Ed-gar Deh-GAH.
27. Eugene Delacroix
"Liberty Leading the People" (Wikimedia)
The French Romantic's name is Yoo-gene Del-a-QUA. (Or Oo-zhen if you're feeling optimistic.)
28. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
"Divan Japonais" (Wikimedia)
The painter and printmaker's full name is Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa, but let's stick with the short version: AHN-ree deh Tah-LOOSE Lah-TREK.
29. Francoise Gilot
"Portrait of Francoise" by Pablo Picasso (Photo by Art Media/Print Collector/Getty Images)
Known to some as the lover and muse of Pablo Picasso, this French painter's name is Fran-SWAZ Zhee-LOW. (Bonus points if you can phonetically differentiate between the female and male versions of this first name.)
30. Henri Matisse
"Music" (Photo by Art Media/Print Collector/Getty Images)
Nope, don't say Henry. It's Awn-REE Mah-TEESE.
BONUS: Marina Abramovic
(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
For the pop culture nuts unaware of how to pronounce Lady Gaga's best friend's name (or, you know, the wildly famous Serbian artist known as the "grandmother of performance art"): Muh-REE-na Ah-BRAHM-o-vich. Stay tuned for our next guide: How To Pronounce Your Favorite Contemporary Artists' Names.