Introducing you to the top 10 contemporary artists that you need to know about.
Jeff Koons was born in York, Pennsylvania in 1955. He studied at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is now based in New York City. Since his first solo exhibition in 1980, Koons’s work has been shown in various major galleries and institutions throughout the world.
Koons is renowned for his public sculptures, such as the monumental floral sculpture ‘Puppy’ which is shown at Rockefeller Centre, and permanently installed at the Guggenheim Bilbao. Koons has received numerous awards and honours in recognition of his cultural achievements. He received the Governor’s Awards for the “Distinguished Arts Award” and “Golden Plate Award” from the Academy of Achievement. He was honoured with the State Department’s Medal of the Arts for his outstanding commitment to the Art in Embassies Program and international cultural exchange.
Widely known for his art, Koons has also been a board member of The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children since 2002. He co-founded the Koons Family International Law and Policy Institute with ICMEC to fight global issues of child abduction and exploitation.
The flourishing and controversial artist, Damien Hirst was born in Bristol in 1965. Hirst emerged as a leading figure in the Young British Artists movement in the late 1980s and 1990s. His works include dead animal displays and spin-art paintings which have sold for exceptionally high prices. Hirst is one of the wealthiest artists living today.
He studied art at the Goldsmith’s College in London. During this time he put together a ground-breaking exhibit entitled “Freeze” in 1988. The show featured the works of Fiona Rae, Sarah Lucas, and others, as well as his personal works. Hirst and his fellow students became part of an emerging movement known as the Young British Artists, a group known for their unusual materials and challenging art concepts.
Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese avant-garde artist, influential in the post-war New York art scene. Staging provocative exhibitions such as her “Infinity Nets”. Kusama’s work earned notoriety through her Narcissus Garden exhibition, which displayed hundreds of mirrored balls. Since her return to Japan in the 1970s, Kusama’s work has continued to appeal to the imagination and the senses, including dizzying walk-in installations, public sculptures, and the “Dots Obsessions” paintings.
Yayoi Kusama’s work attracted a great deal of recognition which resulted in Kusama receiving the National Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. It is known that she has been voluntarily living in a psychiatric institute since 1977, inspiring her works which reflect obsession and a deep desire of escaping psychological trauma. To share personal experiences, the artist creates art installations which allow the viewers to immerse themselves in her obsessive vision of endless dots and nets or infinitely mirrored space.
Recognised as ‘the Warhol of Japan’ is Takashi Murakami, an artist known to be one of the most acclaimed artists to emerge from post-war Asia. Murakami’s art is a contemporary blend of fine art and pop culture; he is renowned for his signature bold and colourful Anime and Manga cartoons. During the 1990’s Murakami became famous for his ‘Superflat’ theory and the organisation of an exhibition in tribute to his theory which created links between the origins of contemporary and historical Japanese visual culture.
Takashi’s body of works include a range of paintings, sculptures, drawings and animations. His works also include collaborative pieces amongst various brands including brands such as Louis Vuitton, Vogue, Supreme, COMME des GARÇONS and Google.
Gerhard Ritcher is a German born artist; with an initial focal point of realism. He later developed interest towards progressive contemporary art and used his paintings to explore just how the images that appear to capture the “truth” often prove to be far less objective than initially thought.
Ritcher’s work plays on the idea of realism and abstraction. Looking at the twentieth century art movements, he draws inspiration from movements such as Abstract expressionism, Pop Art, Conceptualism and Minimalism. Whilst allowing his work to be influenced by these revolutionary movements, he remains an individual and unique artist with a cynical outlook on grand and philosophical ethics.
Marina Abramovic is a widely known for her performance art, with her work focusing on new generation movements. She uses her own body as a medium in order to eliminate the distance between the audience, artist and the art itself. Abramovic was born under Yugoslavia’s communist dictatorship and repressive parenting which is said to have inspired the striking and hazardous performances that she carries out.
Although Abramovic is mostly renowned for her menacing performance work, she has also produced a body of sculpture work.
Jean-Michael Basquiat is known to have emerged from the New York ‘Punk Scene’ where he kick-started his career as a dexterous graffiti artist. Within a few years of exposing his works, Basquiat became one of the most celebrated and commercially exposed “naïf” painters in the Neo-Expressionism art Movement.
Basquiat is considered to be a great example of how such revolutionary and exert work could guide an artist to become one of the most recognised and celebrated artists of the early 1980’s. His work reflects American punk and his personal counter-cultural background, indeed it is evident to see his Urban and African-Caribbean background playing an influential role in what he produces.
Richard Serra’s post-abstract expressionism work has gained worldwide recognition and appraisal. Looking at Serra’s works from the 1960’s until the present day, it can be seen just how Serra’s work has played a huge role when it comes to advancing the traditions of modern and abstract sculpture since the minimalism movement. Serra’s work is a magnet when it comes to attracting viewer’s attention; setting new levels and standards to experiencing art- both physically and visually. His sculpture works are designed to be mainly site-specific or displayed within a highly public area.
Growing in the shadows of legendary artists such as Pablo Picasso and Julio Gonzalez, Serra too has made a mark in the development of pushing abstract design. Serra’s use of welded steel encourages his designs to push the boundaries of a medium which has historically been associated with the early twentieth century cubism.
Spending over 50 years in the art scene, Edward Ruscha has developed a name for himself and his pop-art styled works. Ruscha illustrates consumer culture, profoundly entrenched southern subcultures and iconic scenery through painting, printmaking, drawing, photography, and film. His works are built up from elevated fonts that are overlay his iconic and urban imagery.
The use of text is a key aspect behind his works, the consideration and use of text in Ruscha’s work maintains the same level of importance as any other object would by considering the style of each font and its impact on the final image. His textual, flat paintings have been associated with both the Pop Art movement and the Beat generation. Ruscha’s contribution has influenced the younger generation of artists which include Jeff koons.
Jenny Saville is a British artist who explores and challenges the idea of the female body and flesh through her rich and naturalistic oil paintings. Born in Cambridge, Saville took her studies to the Glasgow School of Art receiving a B.A Honors in Fine Art. International praise came as a result of Saville’s involvement in the Young British Artists Group and the success of her Exhibition at Saatchi Gallery.
Renowned for her reinvention of traditional oil painting, she captures and changes the perspective of the female form. Her work has been compared to artists such as Lucian Freud and Sir Peter Paul Rubens. Saville also teaches at the Slade School of Art in London but lives and works in Sicily.