VOTE The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece  

Michael Gibson
6.1k votes 925 voters 112.7k views 52 items

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.
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1
268 76
Harper Lee is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
age 91 Great Work: To Kill a Mockingbird Nelle Harper Lee is an American novelist widely known for her 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird which deals with the racism she observed as a child in her hometown of ...more

2
184 67
Miguel de Cervantes is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
Dec. at 69 (1547-1616) Great Work: Don Quixote Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, often known mononymously as Cervantes, was a Spanish novelist, poet, and playwright. His magnum opus, Don Quixote, considered to be the first modern European novel, ...more

3
156 75
Margaret Mitchell is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
Dec. at 49 (1900-1949) Great Work: Gone With the Wind Margaret Munnerlyn Mitchell was an American author and journalist. One novel by Mitchell was published during her lifetime, the American Civil War-era novel, Gone with the Wind, for which she ...more

4
102 46
Dante Alighieri is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
Dec. at 56 (1265-1321) Great Work: The Divine Comedy Durante degli Alighieri, simply called Dante, was a major Italian poet of the late Middle Ages. His Divine Comedy, originally called Comedìa and later called Divina by Boccaccio, is ...more

5
66 24
Bram Stoker is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
2probb added Dec. at 65 (1847-1912) One great work: the novel Dracula Abraham "Bram" Stoker was an Irish author known today for his 1897 Gothic novel, Dracula. During his lifetime, he was better known as personal assistant of actor Henry Irving and ...more

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139 83
Emily Brontë is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
Dec. at 30 (1818-1848) Great Work: Wuthering Heights Emily Jane Brontë was an English novelist and poet who is best known for her only novel, Wuthering Heights, now considered a classic of English literature. Emily was the third eldest of the ...more

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96 56
J. D. Salinger is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
EEE1 added Dec. at 91 (1919-2010) Catcher in the Rye Jerome David "J. D." Salinger was an American writer who won acclaim early in life. He led a very private life for more than a half-century. He published his final original work in ...more

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91 53
Charlotte Brontë is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
TaraWickstrom added Dec. at 39 (1816-1855) Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë was an English novelist and poet, the eldest of the three Brontë sisters who survived into adulthood and whose novels have become classics of English literature. She ...more

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97 68
Ken Kesey is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
analise.dubner added Dec. at 66 (1935-2001) Great Work: One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Kenneth Elton "Ken" Kesey was an American author, best known for his novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and as a countercultural figure who considered himself a link between the ...more

10
88 60
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Great Work: "A Whiter Shade of Pale" Procol Harum are an English rock band formed in 1967. They contributed to the development of progressive rock, and by extension, symphonic rock. Their best-known recording is their 1967 hit ...more

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132 106
F. Scott Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
KirkSaw added Dec. at 44 (1896-1940) Great Work: The Great Gatsby Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was an American author of novels and short stories, whose works are the paradigmatic writings of the Jazz Age. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest American ...more

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Died at 57 (1879-1936) Great Work: Nosferatu Friedrich Gustav Maximilian "Max" Schreck was a German actor. He is most often remembered for his lead role as Count Orlok in the film Nosferatu.

13
61 44
William Golding is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
Skojare added Dec. at 82 (1911-1993) Great Work: Lord of the Flies
Sir William Gerald Golding CBE was an English novelist, playwright, and poet. Best known for his novel Lord of the Flies, he won a Nobel Prize in Literature, and was also awarded the Booker ...more

14
89 74
Linda Blair is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
age 59 Great Work: The Exorcist Linda Denise Blair is an American actress. Blair is best known for her role as the possessed child, Regan, in the film The Exorcist, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award and won a ...more

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64 53
Ralph Ellison is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
Dec. at 81 (1913-1994) Great Work: Invisible Man Ralph Waldo Ellison was an American novelist, literary critic, scholar and writer. He was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Ellison is best known for his novel Invisible Man, which won the ...more

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75 65
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Dec. at 53 (1653-1706) Great Work: Canon in D Johann Pachelbel was a German composer, organist and teacher who brought the south German organ tradition to its peak. He composed a large body of sacred and secular music, and his contributions ...more

17
56 49
Edmond Rostand is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
Dec. at 50 (1868-1918) Great Work: Cyrano de Bergerac Edmond Eugène Alexis Rostand was a French poet and dramatist. He is associated with neo-romanticism, and is best known for his play Cyrano de Bergerac. Rostand's romantic plays contrasted ...more

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82 79
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Died at 28 (1965-1993) Great Work: The Crow Brandon Bruce Lee was an American actor and martial artist. He was the son of martial arts film actor Bruce Lee, the grandson of Cantonese opera singer Lee Hoi-chuen, and brother of Shannon Lee. ...more

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53 47
Grant Wood is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
Dec. at 51 (1891-1942) Great Work: American Gothic Grant DeVolson Wood was an American painter born four miles east of Anamosa, Iowa. He is best known for his paintings depicting the rural American Midwest, particularly the painting American ...more

20
56 53
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Dec. at 31 (1966-1997) Great Work: Grace Jeffrey Scott "Jeff" Buckley, raised as Scott "Scottie" Moorhead, was an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. After a decade as a session guitarist in Los Angeles, ...more

21
69 70
Sylvia Plath is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
Dec. at 31 (1932-1963) Great Work: The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath was an American poet, novelist, and short-story writer. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, she studied at Smith College and Newnham College at the University of Cambridge, before ...more

22
53 52
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Dec. at 71 (1910-1981) Great Work: Adagio for Strings Samuel Osmond Barber II was an American composer of orchestral, opera, choral, and piano music. He is one of the most celebrated composers of the 20th century: music critic Donal Henahan stated ...more

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40 41
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Dec. at 54 (1892-1946) Great Work: The Passion of Joan of Arc Renée Jeanne Falconetti, sometimes credited as Maria Falconetti, Marie Falconetti, Renée Maria Falconetti, or, simply, Falconetti, was a French stage and film actress, notable for ...more

24
79 89
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Great Work: Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols The Sex Pistols were an English punk rock band formed in London in 1975. Although they lasted just two-and-a-half years and produced only four singles and one studio album, Never Mind the ...more

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46 50
Stieg Larsson is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
Dec. at 50 (1954-2004) Great Work: The Millennium Series Karl Stig-Erland "Stieg" Larsson was a Swedish journalist and writer. He is best known for writing the "Millennium trilogy" of crime novels, which were published ...more

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89 105
Orson Welles is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
KirkSaw added Dec. at 70 (1915-1985) Great Work: Citizen Kane George Orson Welles was an American actor, director, writer and producer who worked in theater, radio and film. He is best remembered for his innovative work in all three media: in theatre, most ...more

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50 59
John Kennedy Toole is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
Dec. at 32 (1937-1969) Great Work: A Confederacy of Dunces John Kennedy Toole was an American novelist from New Orleans, Louisiana, whose posthumously published novel A Confederacy of Dunces won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He also wrote The Neon ...more

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12 11
Lauryn Hill is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
Ben Benjamin added age 42 The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill Lauryn Hill is an American singer–songwriter, rapper, producer, and actress. She is best known for being a member of the Fugees and for her solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Raised in ...more

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90 116
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age 47 Great Work: The Sixth Sense Manoj Shyamalan, known professionally as M. Night Shyamalan, is an Indian and American screenwriter, film director, producer and occasional actor known for making movies with contemporary ...more

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44 59
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Dec. at 63 (1899-1962) Great Work: The Night of the Hunter Charles Laughton was an English stage and film actor and director. Laughton was trained in London at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and first appeared professionally on the stage in 1926. In ...more

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1 1
Meat Loaf is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
age 70 Michael Lee Aday better known by his stage name Meat Loaf is an American musician and actor. He is noted for the Bat Out of Hell album trilogy consisting of Bat Out of Hell, Bat Out of Hell II: ...more

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11 16
Mikhail Bulgakov is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
2probb added Dec. at 49 (1891-1940) Great work: the novel The Master and Margarita Mikhaíl Afanasyevich Bulgakov was a Russian writer and playwright active in the first half of the 20th century. He is best known for his novel The Master and Margarita, which has been ...more

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44 62
John Singleton is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
age 50 Great Work: Boyz n the Hood John Daniel Singleton is an American film director, screenwriter, and producer best known for directing Boyz n the Hood in 1991. For the film, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best ...more

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34 49
Maya Lin is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
age 58 Great Work: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Maya Ying Lin is an American designer and artist who is known for her work in sculpture and landscape art. She came to fame as the designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., ...more

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34 49
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Heather Agarwal added age 49 Great Work: Mad World (Tears for Fears cover) Gary Jules is an American singer-songwriter, best known for his cover version of the Tears For Fears song "Mad World", which Gary recorded with friend Michael Andrews for the film ...more

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31 47
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age 43 Great Work: Donnie Darko James Richard Kelly is an American film director and writer, known for writing and directing the cult classic Donnie Darko in 2001.

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35 53
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age 67 Great Work: An American Werewolf in London David Walsh Naughton is an American actor and singer known for his starring roles in the 1981 horror film, An American Werewolf in London, and the 1980 Disney comedy, Midnight Madness. He also ...more

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33 52
Peter Bogdanovich is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
teppscan-google added age 78 "Great Work; The Last Picture Show" Peter Bogdanovich is an American film historian, director, writer, actor, producer and critic. He was part of the wave of "New Hollywood" directors, which included William Friedkin, ...more

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8 16
Laurence Sterne is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
2probb added Dec. at 55 (1713-1768) Great work: the novel Tristram Shandy (shortened title!) Laurence Sterne was an Anglo-Irish novelist and an Anglican clergyman. He is best known for his novels The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman and A Sentimental Journey Through ...more

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40 63
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age 37 Great Work: My Girl Anna Chlumsky is an American film, stage and television actress who rose to prominence for her role as Vada Sultenfuss in My Girl, as well as in its 1994 sequel. Chlumsky abandoned her acting ...more

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26 43
Los del Río is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
Great Work: La Macarena
Los del Río, also known as The Del Rios, are a Spanish pop and dance duo which formed in 1962. They are best known for their smash-hit dance single "Macarena", originally ...more

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21 38
Ludwig van Beethoven is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
www_hctdavid added Dec. at 57 (1770-1827) Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and ...more

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10 23
Lindsey Stirling is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
www_hctdavid added age 31 Lindsey Stirling is an American violinist, dancer, performance artist, and composer. She presents choreographed violin performances, both live and in music videos found on her YouTube channel, ...more

44
10 23
Grey Aliens is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
JamesRLock added Grey Aliens Mutating monkey dna converting us to humans

45
29 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 87
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age 36 Great Work: Almost Famous Kate Garry Hudson is an American actress. She rose to prominence in 2001 after winning a Golden Globe and receiving several nominations, including one for an Academy Award for Best Supporting ...more

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3 15
Cow Cow Davenport is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
johnbentin added Dec. at 61 (1894-1955) Charles Edward "Cow Cow" Davenport was an American boogie-woogie and piano blues player as well as a vaudeville entertainer. He also played the organ and sang.

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16 46
Théodore Géricault is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
Dec. at 33 (1791-1824) Great Work: The Raft of the Medusa Jean-Louis André Théodore Géricault was an influential French painter and lithographer, known for The Raft of the Medusa and other paintings. Although he died young, he was ...more

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22 59
Vincent Gallo is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Artists With Only One Masterpiece
age 56 Great Work: Buffalo 66 Vincent Vito Gallo, Jr. is an American actor, director, model, musician and painter. Though he has had minor roles in mainstream films such as Goodfellas, Arizona Dream, The Funeral and ...more

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