With the month of July already behind us, we can safely say we’re already halfway through the hiatus that has taken over the art world at large. Some of our contemporary artists are also on vacation, although others are out there and working like it’s any other time of the year and we’re more than excited to see what they will come up with next. Many of them, as you know by far, can be found in our ever-growing artist database, and at the end of each month, we round up the most popular among them, chosen by none other than our very own readers. Although the number one spot has been occupied by a name all too familiar, the other nine are quite versatile yet again, and we can’t help but wonder - is your favorite among them? Scroll down to find out!
At number ten, a newbie on our list of the most popular contemporary artists. Anne Barlinckhoff is a photographer from The Netherlands whose imagery recalls the famous United Colors of Benetton ads. Her models appear spontaneous and relaxed as they engage in sometimes sensuous situations. She is a big fan of dogs, who are often portrayed in her work, in both black and white and luscious colors. Many of her images were a result of a recent trip to South Africa, where the artist found that the approach to the female form was a bit more conservative than the European one, but she’s still found so many beautiful people willing to work with her.
Leng Jun is a Chinese painter whose observation skills cannot be compared to anyone else’s. The incredible detail found in his artworks demonstrates the artist’s dedication to realistic representation, as he engages in a meticulous investigation of color, form, shape and point of view. His oil paintings would easily trick you into thinking they’re actually photographs, because of their almost unbelievable visual impact and attention to every single particle of the object and the canvas they are painted on. Leng Jun is a highly respectable artist in his homeland, having won numerous prestigious awards and having been featured in many significant exhibitions.
At number eight, another debutant on our list, and she definitely deserves the spot among yours and our favorite contemporary artists. Liz McGrath is a talented sculptor whose inspiration lays in the unusual and the grotesque, the eerie and the intriguing. Most of her work is based on clay and accompanied by paint, paper, gold leaf, rhinestones, parts of clothing and other found objects that only add up to the curious, spooky yet cute appearance of her subjects. Looking at her pieces, we can’t help but see the pun in her nickname - Bloodbath McGrath - as they appear as though they have just come out of a nightmare, or at least a horror movie of a kind.
Love him or hate him (because there doesn’t seem to be indifference when it comes to his art), Jeff Koons is here to stay. To prove this, there are his highly successful auction sales, but also exhibitions that perhaps may not be large in number, but are surely a big hit every time they hit a gallery anywhere in the world. Just ask Damien Hirst, who recently booked Mr. Koons for a show in his Newport Street Gallery in London (on view through October 16), or the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA), which is hosting a grand exhibition of his work through September 7th 2016 in the Argentinian capital. Next up is another UK show, at London’s Almine Rech Gallery, starting October 4.
He may not be as big a name as his Abstract Expressionist colleagues in New York, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, but Paul Jenkins is definitely a force to be reckoned with in the world of modern art. His is an unusual, random, paint-pouring method of painting, which the artist himself once described as “a crapshooter throwing dice” and “a big gamble” - a gamble which makes him love it all even more. Today, around 5,000 pieces from his archive can be found at the Archives of American Art of the Smithsonian Institution, as well as at important art institutions across the United States and Europe. Paul Jenkins died in 2012 in New York.
Another fresh name on our list, at number five we have Brian Scott Campbell, a young contemporary artist from Columbus, Ohio whose visual language is highly distinct. Clearly interested in modern painting and the dark realms of Expressionism, he creates paintings that recall the works of many other famous artists, yet he managed to maintain a unique identity that involved the mechanical application of traditional drawing materials; he works on paper with liquid graphite washes and pencil, in order to create monochromatic, abstract imagery, usually of figures or parts of them engages in curious situations. Brian Scott Campbell was just part of a group show at New York’s Fredericks & Freiser.
If you happen to run into the vivid paintings of female figures in the middle of natural landscapes, often losing their identities to its elements in an abstract manner, you will meet the work of Alexandra Levasseur, a Canadian artist who has become the master of sensitive portraiture. Her adventurous spirit is evident in her art, as the vivid colors and rich imagination take place on her every canvas, through meticulously depicted figures of women and girls, usually nude and usually unknown. She is no stranger to expressing an entire spectrum of human emotions like love, fear, anguish and unrequited desire, all placed in a dreamy setting we all want to be part of.
It is not often we can say that a celebrity photographer can truly make something else out of a face so familiar. Vincent Peters is one of those artists, and among his models we can find names like Monica Bellucci, Laetitia Casta, Jessica, Biel, Charlize Theron, Cindy Crawford and Scarlett Johansson. He turns them into their predecessors, the great Hollywood divas of the 1950s and 60s and soaks them in a particular kind of light that gives them yet another identity, yet another role to play, experience, express. Resembling film stills, his shots can be found in all major publications and renowned galleries around the world, in particular Nuremberg’s Galerie Fluegel-Roncak.
If you ever wanted to be a part of an artwork without necessarily sitting on a stool for hours while a painter depicts your portrait, you might wanna become a volunteer for photographer Spencer Tunick. The catch? You’d have to be naked, as this is the artist’s primary way of creating worldwide-famous performances-turned-photographs. Spencer Tunick’s latest endeavor found its place in UK city of Hull, whose streets were “flooded” with some 3,000 naked people painted in shades of blue in order to evoke the rising sea levels caused by the climate change. We can’t wait for the next project of this remarkable artist and one of the most prominent creators contributors to participatory art.
This time last year, we were overwhelmed with reporting on the year’s biggest artwork - the Dismaland bemusement part, created by Banksy and dozens of fellow artists. This year things are much more quiet, although being absent never stopped Banksy from being on our monthly list of most popular contemporary artists, as he hasn’t left Top 5 ever since the list exists. While the artist himself has been missing from the spotlight, unfortunately his artworks are too - his iconic three rat stencils were destroyed in Melbourne, Australia. Undoubtedly, it was a big loss to the history of street art in Australia and the world, and we can only hope that these kinds of things can be prevented in the future. In the meantime, let’s hope the world’s greatest stencil artist will return and give us more to talk about, as we’re sure he’ll be on our next list as well!