While some of the world’s most famous contemporary artists are selling their works for up to AU$35 million, there are other younger emerging artists who are starting to experience fame, but still dreaming of the day it pays.
In this Top 10 list, we reveal a combination of artistic talent and fame. Sure, sometimes this fame comes with a hefty price tag, but other times it’s about shining a spotlight on art for art’s sake, not for what it fetches at a fancy auction.
And because we believe art should be accessible to all, we’ve also included contemporary pieces that you – the ordinary Australian – can afford.
1. Andreas Gursky
German photographer and university professor Andreas Gurksky is renowned for landscape colour photos and large format architecture. He often uses what’s referred to as a ‘high point of view’ which means he looks down on a lot of his subjects from an elevated perspective, a viewpoint the everyday person does not often get the chance to see.
His ability to catch the finest details of the modern world is revealed in epic scale scenes, for example, buildings and supermarket shelves.
Gursky’s photo ‘Rhine II’ which he took in 1999 went on to fetch AU$4.34 million in 2011, securing the record for the highest price a photograph has ever achieved at auction. The work, which is actually quite bleak, captures a desolate aspect of the river Rhine outside Düsseldorf.
Don’t have a spare $4 million? If you love the style of the ‘Rhine II’, but fancy a bit more colour we instead suggest this abstract Colourful Fields print, featured below.
2. Zao Wou-Ki
Zao Wou-Ki, who died in 2011 aged 93, was once considered by the New York Times to be ‘China’s most important living artist’. A contemporary abstract painter, he lived in Beijing, Paris, New York and Switzerland. Not wanting to fall victim to a cultural stereotype, Wou-Ki extended his repertoire beyond calligraphy and began to paint in the abstract. After receiving acclaim in 1954 for his abstract work ‘Wind’, he continued on as an abstract artist, often depicting a tug of war between order and chaos.
His work ‘10.1.68’ sold for AU$8.98 million while another of his works ‘Abstraction’ sold for US$14.71 million.
Love all things abstract? You too can enjoy a painting in the style of this contemporary master with Warmth Of Life.
3. Peter Doig
Scottish figurative painter Peter Doig is known for his enchanting art. Sometimes dipping his toes into the abstract, his work is closer to magical realism. As well as the real world, he has been known to base his creations on items such as found photographs, newspaper clippings and movie scenes. Doig has won multiple prestigious awards throughout his career for his Metamodernism works.
His painting ‘Gasthof zur Muldentasperre’ was sold in 2014 for US$17.04 million then his work ‘Swamped’ sold in 2015 for US$25,95 million.
The print ‘Girl By The River’, below, from our Indian Art collection is reminiscent of Doig’s ‘Red Boat (Imaginary Boys)’ painting by Doig which sold for AU$9.91 million. A bit closer to your price range, perhaps?
4. Cui Ruzhuo
Talented Chinese ink painter Cui Ruzhuo made the news for all the wrong reasons in 2014 when hotel cleaners accidentally threw out one of his paintings ‘Snowy Mountain’ after it sold at auction for AU$4.75 million. Luckily, he has managed to focus on the positive side of his life as an artist, opening multiple museums under his name. Ruzhuo, who was born in Beijing, moved to the US in 1981.
In 2011 ‘Lotus’ fetched AU$15.9 million, making Ruzhuo one of the most best-selling contemporary Chinese artists.
One way to achieve the contemporary majesty of Ruzhuo’s ink paintings, without the matching price tag, is to opt for ‘Orchids In Ink’.
5. Yoskay Yamamoto
Self-trained illustrator Yoskay Yamamoto, who was born in Japan, moved to the US when he was 15 and now fuses the two cultures together in his exciting urban artwork. With multiple pop art leanings, Yamamoto – now closer to famous than emerging – concentrates on paintings, sculpture, installation, mural and toy art.
Born and raised in Toba, Japan, Yoskay Yamamoto moved to the United States at the age of 15.
Love illustration? This urban piece Beauty, inspired by pop art illustration like that produced by Yamamoto, will give any room in your home a funky feel.
6. Tauba Auerbach
US artist Tauba Auerbach is a multi-disciplinary visual artist. Born in 1981, she’s one of the young artists to watch. Drawing inspiration from mathematics and physics, Auerbach explores the breakdown of logic through the visual art form.
In 2014 Auerbach’s ‘Untitled (Fold)’ sold for US$2.85 million. Not bad for a 34 year old!
Love the idea of maths and science taking the humdrum out of your home life? This contemporary Rainbow Mosaic print, in the style of Auerbach, will hit the spot.
7. Martin Wittfooth
Brooklyn artist Martin Wittfooth paints animals. Sounds ordinary doesn’t it? But Wittfooth’s work is nothing but ordinary. He uses animals as a symbol for the human condition. Hauntingly beautiful, his paintings place animals in places where humans usually reside, weaving a narrative that’s more about us. Definitely one to watch.
If you appreciate art that challenges your thinking, you can bring this Learning To Fly wall art print into your home. It’s in the style of Wittfooth’s animal art, perhaps with less allegory.
8. MARS-1 (Mario Martinez)
Mario Martinez, otherwise known as MARS-1, has a signature style that he self-describes as fuzzy-logic, mysticism, urban-Gothic, sci-fi, abstracted and quasi-organic. With a fascination for 3D, he produces sculpture and 3D-effect paintings on canvas and linen.
With a following of art collectors including prominent personalities like Lance Armstrong, Nike CEO Mark Parker and musician Everlast, Martinez’s work is ‘out of this world’, with some sculptures fetching up to $10,000.
If you love, MARS-1’s signature abstract style with crazy surreal distortions, you will love this similar styled Toys In The Wasteland fantasy print.
9. Adam Neate
What happens when you mix cubism with graffiti? You get work by British artist Adam Neates. Neate’s bold street art is found on the streets and on canvas. In fact, using recycled cardboard as his canvas, he once left thousands of works of art valued at $1 million on the streets for people to collect. Apparently some of it showed up on eBay, something that reportedly did not concern him at all.
In 2007, Neate’s painting ‘Suicide Bomber’ sold for £78,500.
If you love art that takes you on a whirlwind adventure, you’ll love something we have that’s in the style of Neate – ‘Sci-Fi Woman’.
10. Damien Hirst
Britain’s Damien Hirst is more than an artist, he’s also a business man and art collector. Some of his work is intentionally and unintentionally shocking as he often explores the theme of death, but that hasn’t stopped him becoming the UK’s richest artist.
It turns out death sells. In 2008 Hirst’s one-artist auction raised £111 million (US$198 million), breaking a world record.
Not all of his art is morbid. A quick look at Artsy shows a lot of fun, bright, colourful Hirst pieces. If you prefer his more colourful works, you can feature something similar in style in your own home, like this contemporary fractal print, below.