Did you know that, in 2012, art auctions raked in as much as $11.5 billion? Profits increased by as much 21%, from just two years earlier, in 2010. Everyone knows art’s greatest. Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Salvador Dali, and Andy Warhol are household names. Modern art, however, is not so clear cut. It can be difficult to keep up with the growing number of contemporary artists, and it can be even more challenging to pick out the noteworthy ones. Who is making waves in the world of modern art, and why?
Famous modern artists rarely use traditional methods, like a canvas and brush. Three dimensional objects are in, and the art based on them is selling for a good deal of cash. Some examples are works by Urs Fischer, and Damien Hurst. In 2007, Fischer literally dug a 38-foot-by-30-foot cater in a New York gallery. New York Magazine described the work, dubbed “You,” as, “Experientially rich, buzzing with energy and entropy, crammed with chaos and contradiction…” Another work by Fischer, a fusion of a desktop lamp and a giant yellow teddy bear (untitled), sold for nearly $7 million.
Damien Hurst’s works, on the other hand, strike eerie notes on death. Hurst creates anything from diamond-studded skulls to exhibits with a number of different animals artfully preserved in formaldehyde. His works range from 2005’s “The Immortal,” a shark preserved in formaldehyde, to 2008’s “The Dream,” a white baby horse, also in formaldehyde, with a silicone unicorn horn.
Photography is going in a number of different directions. Some famous modern artists, like Andreas Gursky, prefer to stick to tradition, and it is safe to say that Gursky’s decision paid off. In fact, his 1999 print “Rhein II” sold in a 2011 auction for more than $4 million. The Telegraph reaffirmed the value of the photograph, stating, “The scale, attention to color and form of his photography can be read as a deliberate challenge to painting’s status as a higher art form.”
Other artists however, like Gillian Wearing, are testing the boundaries of the art form. For many years, Wearing created a series of life-like masks. Wearing created masks of her family members, including her brother, sister, and father, and a mask of her own face at 17 years old. She then photographed herself wearing the masks, with a notable gap near her eyes, only. The effect is chilling, and a far cry from Gursky’s classic landscape.
Modern art, and famous modern artists, are testing the waters. Abstracts artists focus on three dimensional objects, and, sometimes, as in Hurst’s works, featuring subjects that were once alive. Photographers are just as far-reaching, some challenging traditional painting, and others twisting reality.