Looking back at the twelve months behind us, we can’t say we’re surprised at the number one spot on our Most popular contemporary artists list of the year. Banksy never even left our top five at all! Even the other nine names in our top ten don’t really make our jaws drop, although we gotta say - they all deserve to be up there, for one reason or another. They’re the masters of their craft from all over the world, united in using the means of art to transmit their unique and powerful message. This month we skipped our monthly list in favour of the yearly one, but we should mention that the top three artists do not differ in both cases and we invite you to scroll down and check out the full list of our most popular contemporary artists of 2015.
But first, check out the top 10. We’re sure we’ll see much of them in 2016 as well!
At number 10, we have Guy Denning, the legend of the British contemporary urban art scene. He’s been on and off our list, and in 2015 the artist had a significant number of group and solo exhibitions, in France where he’s based, the UK (his homeland), Italy and Germany. Through April and May, his wonderful solo exhibition entitled Shooting Angels was hosted by Pretty portal Gallery in Dusseldorf, and has had a lot of success. Looking forward to Guy Denning’s new endeavors!
And what a year it has been for Shepard Fairey! Surely one he will remember. Just recently, he visited Paris and made art on the occasion of the Climate Change conference; before that, he created his largest and widest murals to date, and one of them got him in trouble - well, not the mural itself, but the fact he allegedly also painted some other walls he wasn’t allowed to. His Detroit adventure brought him an ongoing trial for vandalism, which is probably his most memorable event of the year. Let’s hope 2016 will be all about the good stuff for Shepard Fairey!
Yes, it is exactly that Greek fellow you often see on our most popular contemporary artists lists every month. No, we still don’t know who he really is. But we do know that his art is great, which is probably why he is so recurring as a topic, don’t you think? And if you only know about his street art, you should also check out Cacao Rocks’ video works, as he is talented in that area as well. Make sure you visit his blog, which he regularly updates with latest works and experiences. This is how one should use their voice to speak their minds, and that’s why Cacao Rocks.. rocks!
When we think about it, it was a rather slow year for Jeff Koons - you could even say it was the year of one boring, regular artist. In 2015, he created a sculpture for the Sacramento Kings basketball team, his works sold for millions at regular and charity auctions worldwide, he created two sculptures for the city of Florence, which we now hear will remain there because… why not? He’s on view at his best buddy’s gallery (it’s Gagosian) and… oh, right, he got sued for copyright infringement by a photographer. Well, I guess not completely regular year. Let’s hope next year Jeff Koons gives us some more material to work with though.
Here on Widewalls, we’ve talked a lot about Jean Michel Basquiat in the past, because he’s one of our favourite artists, and because there’s just so much to him. I’ve often wonder what his art would have been like today if his life hadn’t ended the way it had almost thirty years ago, because even though his artistic career was so short, he managed to create artworks that have left the deepest of marks on art, and people. In 2015, the Brooklyn Museum honoured Basquiat with an exhibition of his rare notebooks, and his artworks reigned the biggest auctions. Basquiat, forever immortal.
The Puerto Rican delight in form of Alexis Diaz has been gracing the streets, buildings and walls around the world this year, and in the meantime, he managed to attend some art fairs during Miami Art Week in December, for instance. He participated at Sea Walls Festival in Mexico, POW! WOW! Hawaii, the decennial show at Thinkspace Gallery, the first edition of the Lollapalooza Festival in Berlin, organized by URBAN NATION… Right now, his works are on view at Palazzo Platamone in Catania, Italy, as part of the group exhibition by the curators of 999Contemporary.
German art duo composed of Hera and Akut and joined into one Herakut have also been busy painting places in 2015, so you’ve often had the chance to see them as part of our weekly Street Updates. Recently, they’ve visited Paris and joined Project 256, which helps the homeless through their street art portraits, and they’ve also pinned a solo exhibition in Rome, at Galleria Varsi, entitled Santa Miseria. As part of the group of 13 Berlin artists, they’ve also participated in the Made in Berlin show at Mathgoth gallery in Paris. We wish them many more of these!
We’re not quite sure what exactly brought Jackson Pollock to our readers’ attention all of the sudden, as before this summer, he wasn’t even in the top 100 on our most popular contemporary artists list. Maybe because he was simply amazing. He is somewhat of a legend in his homeland of America, and even those who are not exactly interested in his art know about him and his incredible dripping paintings. Ever since he made it to our top 10, that’s where he stayed, so we’re pretty sure we’ll see his name a lot in the upcoming year too.
Speaking of people who would just not get off our list is David Choe who is currently visiting Cambodia where he also painted a mural, based on his latest Instagram pictures. Since July 2015, David Choe has been within our top 5, even though he didn’t do much this year - apart from being part of a couple of entertainment industry projects. His art got him the nickname “dirty” because it is often anything but conventional. Today he is one of the richest street artists due to his smart decision to paint the offices of Facebook in exchange for the company’s stock. We’re sure you can imagine how much those are worth today.
Even when he’s not around - he’s around. He’s everywhere, all the time, and everyone is talking about him. In February 2015, he visited the ruins of Gaza, where he left his trademark murals which reminded us of the situation there. In March, his Spy Booth was in the spotlight again, one year after it was created. A random guy was arrested in New York under the suspicion of being Banksy. And then he disappeared again, like he does best. But then… there was Dismaland, which got everyone hyped up like they’ve never been in an amusement park before. The event literally revived the little town of Weston-super-Mare within days, and for a month it was full of curious visitors wanting a piece of depression and all the world problems in their faces. Finally, Banksy visited the refugee camp of Calais, France, where he painted Steve Jobs as one of the Syrian refugees. According to The Guardian, there are a couple of things Banksy should do in 2016, including visit Moscow and Nepal, paint a mural of Margaret Thatcher, and give Boris Johnson’s house a paint job. Maybe he’ll listen?!
Below, we have the full list of one thousand most popular contemporary artists of 2015. Is your favourite on it?