Contemporary Visual Artists: Pre-Recession
MODERN BRITISH PAINTING
According to the 2008 annual Artprice survey of the global art market, a report which lists the 500 top-selling contemporary artists, based on results from 2,900 auctions between July 2007 and June 2008, artists from Asia - particularly China - are beginning to dominate. For instance, out of the the world's top 20 best-selling postmodernist artists, 13 are Asian, of whom 11 are Chinese. Among the world's most highly sought-after artists are Zhang Xiaogang, Zeng Fanzhi and Yue Minjun. Some experts in avant-garde art see this as a clear indication that within 10 years Asian art will account for a majority of auction sales around the globe. See also Art News Headlines.
There is no single definition or meaning
for the term "contemporary art".
But the term "contemporary art" is also popularly used to describe works produced during the present era - meaning, art produced since the late 1960s or early 1970s: a period which would include at least part of the 60s Pop-Art movement.
Note: The term "postmodernist art" is a rather vague term, which is typically used to describe avant-garde art produced since the 1970s. For a selected list of the top postmodernist art exhibitions, biennials and fairs, please see: Best Contemporary Art Festivals. For a selection of the finest museums, see: Best Galleries of Contemporary Art.
Out of the top 10 money-making artists the first four are Western: Jeff Koons (b.1955), the celebrated American self-taught sculptor and mixed-media neo-pop artist; Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-88), the Afro-Caribbean-American painter and ex-graffiti artist; Damien Hirst (b.1965), the British sculptor, mixed media artist noted for his dead shark (The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living) and diamond encrusted skull (For the Love of God); Richard Prince (b.1949), the American painter and photographer. But the rest of the Top 10 are Asian.
From number 11 to number 20, the list includes seven Chinese painters and other artists, with only the English based Indian-born abstract sculptor Anish Kapoor (b.1954) at number 18, the Scottish painter Peter Doig (b.1959) at number 19, and the Italian-born German artist Rudolf Stingel (b.1956) at number 20, preventing a clean sweep.
MEANING OF ART
Here is the list of the top 20 most popular artists based on auction records compiled by Artprice.
1. Jeff Koons (b.1955)
Type of art: sculpture,
2. Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-88)
Type of art: Painting (graffiti
3. Damien Hirst (b.1965)
Type of art: Sculpture, mixed-media, installation
art, winner of Turner
4. Richard Prince (b.1949)
5. Zhang Xiaogang (b.1958)
Type of art: Surrealism
6. Zeng Fanzhi (b.1964)
Type of art: Figure
7. Yue Minjun (b.1962)
Type of art: Expressionist
8. Takashi Murakami (b.1962)
Type of art: Sculpture, painting, installation
9. Wang Guangyi (b.1957)
Type of art: Mixed-media, painting
10. Liu Xiaodong (b.1963)
Type of art: Painting, fine art photography
11. Cai Guo-Qiang (b.1957)
Type of artwork: Performance
art (explosive events)
12. Yan Pei-Ming (b.1960)
Type of art: Portraitist
13. Chen Yifei (b.1946)
Type of art: Painting
14. Fang Lijun (b.1963)
Type of art: Painting
15. Liu Ye (b.1964)
Type of art: Avant-garde artist
17. Zhou Chunya (b.1955)
Type of art: Portrait paintings
18. Anish Kapoor (b.1954)
19. Peter Doig (b.1959)
Type of art: Contemporary landscape
20. Rudolf Stingel (b.1956)
Type of art: Installation and conceptual
Source: Auction records (July 2007-July 2008), as compiled by Artprice.
For a quick reference guide to modern artists, see: 20th Century Painters.
Important Auctions of Contemporary Art
Both the two main international fine art auctioneers, Sotheby's and Christie's, hold regular auctions of post-war modern and contemporary artworks. Recently, the British contemporary sculptor and installation artist Damien Hirst broke the salesoom record for a single artist with his £111 million auction at Sotheby's (Set 2008).
Since 1980, the world has witnessed a host of difficult-to-define types of art, encompassing new contemporary art movements, such as Minimalism, Photorealism, and Land Art, as well as postmodernist styles such as Post-Minimalism, international Neo-expressionism, Britart, and as well as new types of art, such as video art and graffiti, as well as computer art in new media like videogames).
If the Italian Renaissance was an era of relative conformity, today's modern art scene can only be characterized by the phrase "anything goes". Art has suddenly become much more accessible, but in its search for relevancy, it seems to be downplaying its earlier focus on acquired skills, in favour of novelty and populist appeal - a process stimulated no doubt by the increasingly powerful role played by modern communication systems like TV, video and the Internet.