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VOTE The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece  

Michael Gibson
5.9k votes 905 voters 112.1k views

The greatest artists with only one masterpiece include authors, actors and actresses, directors, painters and musicians. Each person included on this list managed to have incredible impact with one truly memorable piece of work, whether it's an album, a song, a painting or a novel. This list of the greatest artists with only a single, amazing and memorable piece of work, is VoteRanked, meaning the rank is determined by the community. Be sure to vote for those artists you believe contributed the most and feel free to add anyone else you think should be included.

This list of so-called "one hit wonders" includes several authors. Harper Lee certainly deserves a spot. Her novel 'To Kill a Mockingbird' won the Pulitzer Price in 1960, and it remains her only published work. I've included both Sylvia Plath ('The Bell Jar') and John Kennedy Toole ('A Confederacy of Dunces') on the list, although in both cases, these writers' memorable masterpieces were published either shortly before, or just after, their deaths (both Plath and Toole committed suicide). And of course, Margaret Mitchell earns a spot on this list: 'Gone With the Wind' was her only novel.

Directors and actors are also included on this list. None, perhaps, are more infamous for only creating one truly memorable piece of work than director Charles Laughton. In 1955, Laughton directed 'The Night of the Hunter' -- a film that's considered by some to be one of the best from that decade. Sadly, Laughton never directed another movie. Actors and actresses on this list include Brandon Lee ('The Crow'), Linda Blair ('The Exorcist'), Kate Hudson ('Almost Famous') and David Naughton ('An American Werewolf in London'). Disagree with the choices? Vote them down. And definitely add any Hollywood greats I've missed along the way.

Musicians who've released only one memorable album or song also got spots on this list, though they are rare. Examples? The Sex Pistols! The band only released one studio album: 1977's 'Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols.' Everything else is a compilation and/or a live release. Jeff Buckley, sadly, also only released one (truly amazing) complete studio album: 'Grace,' in 1994.

American painter Grant Wood also makes this list of the greatest artists with only one masterpiece. His painting 'American Gothic' is without question his greatest (and most memorable) piece, though he did paint other, much lesser known paintings during his career. If you know of other artists who should be included on this list, by all means, add them.

Enjoy this list of artists who've created some of the biggest, most memorable pieces of work in history, and again, add anyone you think was overlooked.
list ordered by

1
263 74
Harper Lee is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
Harper Lee age 91 - Great Work: To Kill a Mockingbird

2
179 65
Miguel de Cervantes is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
Miguel de Cervantes Died at 69 (1547-1616) - Great Work: Don Quixote

3
154 73
Margaret Mitchell is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
Margaret Mitchell Died at 49 (1900-1949) - Great Work: Gone With the Wind

4
99 44
Dante Alighieri is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
Dante Alighieri Died at 56 (1265-1321) - Great Work: The Divine Comedy

5
137 81
Emily Brontë is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
Emily Brontë Died at 30 (1818-1848) - Great Work: Wuthering Heights

6
62 22
Bram Stoker is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
2probb added Bram Stoker Died at 65 (1847-1912) - One great work: the novel Dracula

7
94 54
J. D. Salinger is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
EEE1 added J. D. Salinger Died at 91 (1919-2010) - Catcher in the Rye

8
90 52
Charlotte Brontë is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
TaraWickstrom added Charlotte Brontë Died at 39 (1816-1855) - Jane Eyre

9
96 66
Ken Kesey is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
analise.dubner added Ken Kesey Died at 66 (1935-2001) - Great Work: One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

10
86 60
Ranker Video
Procol Harum Great Work: "A Whiter Shade of Pale"

11
131 104
F. Scott Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
KirkSaw added F. Scott Fitzgerald Died at 44 (1896-1940) - Great Work: The Great Gatsby

12
68 45
Ranker Video
Max Schreck Died at 57 (1879-1936) - Great Work: Nosferatu

13
59 42
William Golding is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
Skojare added William Golding Died at 82 (1911-1993) - Great Work: Lord of the Flies

14
86 74
Linda Blair is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
Linda Blair age 59 - Great Work: The Exorcist

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15
63 51
Ralph Ellison is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
Ralph Ellison Died at 81 (1913-1994) - Great Work: Invisible Man

16
74 63
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Johann Pachelbel Died at 53 (1653-1706) - Great Work: Canon in D

17
53 45
Grant Wood is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
Grant Wood Died at 51 (1891-1942) - Great Work: American Gothic

18
54 47
Edmond Rostand is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
Edmond Rostand Died at 50 (1868-1918) - Great Work: Cyrano de Bergerac

19
78 78
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Brandon Lee Died at 28 (1965-1993) - Great Work: The Crow

20
55 52
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Jeff Buckley Died at 31 (1966-1997) - Great Work: Grace

21
67 67
Sylvia Plath is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
Sylvia Plath Died at 31 (1932-1963) - Great Work: The Bell Jar

Celebrity Death Pool 2012

22
50 52
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Samuel Barber Died at 71 (1910-1981) - Great Work: Adagio for Strings

23
78 87
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Sex Pistols Great Work: Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols

24
39 40
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Renée Jeanne Falconetti Died at 54 (1892-1946) - Great Work: The Passion of Joan of Arc

25
87 104
Orson Welles is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
KirkSaw added Orson Welles Died at 70 (1915-1985) - Great Work: Citizen Kane

26
49 57
John Kennedy Toole is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
John Kennedy Toole Died at 32 (1937-1969) - Great Work: A Confederacy of Dunces

27
43 50
Stieg Larsson is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
Stieg Larsson Died at 50 (1954-2004) - Great Work: The Millennium Series

28
10 8
Lauryn Hill is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
Ben Benjamin added Lauryn Hill age 42 - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

24 Celebrities Who Have Gorgeous Green Eyes

29
88 112
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M. Night Shyamalan age 47 - Great Work: The Sixth Sense

30
43 58
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Charles Laughton Died at 63 (1899-1962) - Great Work: The Night of the Hunter

31
44 61
John Singleton is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
John Singleton age 50 - Great Work: Boyz n the Hood

32
33 48
Maya Lin is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
Maya Lin age 58 - Great Work: Vietnam Veterans Memorial

33
35 51
Ranker Video
David Naughton age 67 - Great Work:  An American Werewolf in London

34
10 16
Mikhail Bulgakov is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
2probb added Mikhail Bulgakov Died at 49 (1891-1940) - Great work: the novel The Master and Margarita

35
43 63
Meatloaf is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
clash1977 added Meatloaf Bat Out Of Hell

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36
33 49
Ranker Video
Heather Agarwal added Gary Jules age 49 - Great Work: Mad World (Tears for Fears cover)

37
33 50
Peter Bogdanovich is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
teppscan-google added Peter Bogdanovich age 78 - "Great Work; The Last Picture Show"

38
30 47
Ranker Video
Richard Kelly age 43 - Great Work: Donnie Darko

39
25 41
Los del Río is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
Los del Río Great Work: La Macarena

40
7 16
Laurence Sterne is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
2probb added Laurence Sterne Died at 55 (1713-1768) - Great work: the novel Tristram Shandy (shortened title!)

41
38 63
Ranker Video
Anna Chlumsky age 37 - Great Work: My Girl

42
20 37
Ludwig van Beethoven is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
www_hctdavid added Ludwig van Beethoven Died at 57 (1770-1827)

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43
10 23
Grey Aliens is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
JamesRLock added Grey Aliens Mutating monkey dna converting us to humans

44
8 22
Lindsey Stirling is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
www_hctdavid added Lindsey Stirling age 31

45
28 55
Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanc... is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez Great Work: The Blair Witch Project

46
44 83
Ranker Video
Kate Hudson age 38 - Great Work: Almost Famous

47
3 15
Cow Cow Davenport is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
johnbentin added Cow Cow Davenport Died at 61 (1894-1955)

48
15 46
Théodore Géricault is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
Théodore Géricault Died at 33 (1791-1824) - Great Work: The Raft of the Medusa

49
22 59
Vincent Gallo is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
Vincent Gallo age 56 - Great Work: Buffalo 66

50
11 40
Jim Theis is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
Jim Theis Great Work: The Eye of Argon