Although, just like the title fairly implies, contemporary art is a recent phenomenon, some names have been more prominent than others in the context of art critics as well as the general public. In general, if a person was to receive an introduction into what makes up the foundation of contemporary art, these are the people to note:
Although perhaps not the most avant-garde, the most extravagant or the most controversial artist to end up on this list, including Kandinsky is a must as he is considered to be father of abstract art and abstract expressionism. Although initially his work exhibited naturalistic and highly representational features, everything changed after his time in Paris. Gradually, his works gained more color and geometric variety. Through his paintings, he attempted to create an impact on a person in the same manner music does and invented abstract form language to substitute the forms of nature.
If there was an award for the most controversial artist among the contemporaries, Jeff Koons would be the first one on the stage to claim it. Despite having stated that there is neither any meaning, nor anything to criticize in his work, his “Rabbit” was sold for $91 million, which is the highest price to have ever been paid for a work of a living artist. The controversy over his work arises because his art is focused on enlarged reproductions of mass objects, such as balloon animals. Moreover, he rarely touches the work himself but instead has a team executing his ideas. As a result, rarely anyone holding an opinion on contemporary art is left neutral when it comes to this name.
Sculpture, installations, painting, performance, fashion… You name it, she has mastered it. Yayoi Kusama came to public attention back in the late 60s, when she created a series of events where people showed up naked, colored in polka dots. This was her tribute to the increased popularity of the hippie culture and ever since she has been known for her patterns and her installations in museums all over the world. She has been active for over 70 years and in 2017, Yayoi Kusama Museum was opened in that way monumentalizing her importance in the contemporary art scene.
He was inspired by some graffiti he noticed on a truck that was passing by; now many call him the most influential living painter. He received public recognition for his series of paintings that depicted black, stenciled letters on a white canvas. In general, he uses spacing and alliteration in ways that oftentimes require the viewers to read out loud if they are to make out the meaning of the painting. His work is charged with post-conceptual ideas and juxtapositions.
There is no list of influential forces in contemporary art without mentioning of street art, and Banksy is certainly a name to remember. There is an aura of mysticism around this artist, which is intensified by the factor of anonymity. Left-wing politics, social criticism, controversial topics – Banksy is not intimidated to touch upon sensitive matters that the world needs to be concerned with. The artist was first noticed in London back in the 90s and ever since has received worldwide acknowledgment for his/her art.
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