Like every September, it was a busy time for us as the world of art slowly awoke from the long summer hiatus. This is the time when the most popular contemporary artists get back to work, preparing exhibitions, painting walls across the planet, showing at the most renowned art fairs. The fall season is only just beginning and it’s already exciting to see and experience and this creativity around us. As part of our monthly ritual, we reveal the very favorite talented individuals chosen by our readers and while we’re used to Banksy being the undisputed king of our list, the other nine spots are constantly being taken over by different names every time. What are they up to? And more importantly - who are they? Scroll down to find out your most popular contemporary artists in September 2016 on Widewalls!
Here’s a newbie on our list, although we can’t say she is unknown to the world of contemporary art. You might have of Milo Moiré for the first time some two years ago, when she stood naked outside an art museum in Cologne and dropped red paint-filled eggs on a white canvas - from her vagina. Ever since, the Swiss artist has been performing naked around the continent, protesting over sex attacks in Cologne and letting people touch her breasts and vagina in public. Milo Moiré has a degree in psychology and much of her work is an examination of the human behavior and our response to different stimulations, like the naked female body. To say we’re looking forward to what she has in store next is an understatement!
The truth is that Pablo Picasso isn’t just our readers’ favorite, but our own too; somehow we can’t help but write about the Spanish master all the time. Just recently we’ve revisited the very best of his sculptural work, wrote about his studios in France, examined his contributions to abstract sculpture and mentioned him in our article on Tribal art. Most recently, Pablo Picasso’s name made the headlines because the estate of a German Jewish businessman sued the Metropolitan Museum of Art claiming that one of the most valuable artworks, The Actor, belongs to him, as he had to sell the painting at a low price after fleeing the Nazis. The work is estimated at more than $100 million, so it will be interesting to see whether The Met will have to give it up after the suit.
Was he really the King of Kink? What Helmut Newton surely could be is the creator of some of the most elegant black and white photographs of women - yes, sometimes shot in controversial scenarios. One of the most renowned artists in the world died in 2004, but his works continue to travel the world through numerous exhibitions at the most influential museums, galleries and institutions. Until January 22nd, 2017, you can see these images at Palazzo Ducale in Genoa, as well as at Musei di Palazzo dei Pio in Carpi, Italy, through 11th of December 2016. If you’re still wondering whether Helmut Newton was a feminist or a fetishist, a grand retrospective of his works at FOAM in Amsterdam was a good opportunity to dwell on that.
Those who appreciate the art of Anish Kapoor are familiar with the fact this artist creates mesmerizing sculptures and installations reflecting on the simplicity yet eliciting complexity. His works can be found in exhibitions and outdoors, at unbelievable locations, like… the middle of the Seine in Paris. On the night of October 1st, as part of the Nuit Blanche in the French capital, the artist will reveal the latest edition of his Descension installation and make a proper vortex inside the river. The piece previously fascinated the visitors of the Indian biennale and Galleria Continua in Italy and is now ready to amaze the audience in France, as this truly is another marvel of the 21st century engineering. What could possibly be next for Anish Kapoor? Stay tuned!
Could we talk about Vincent Van Gogh every day for the rest of our lives? Quite possibly: his genius is more than enough of a reason for that. However, something incredible happened only a couple of days ago, and when I say incredible, I mean two of his stolen artworks have been found, almost in perfect condition, after fourteen years. We all remember that infamous heist when burglars entered The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam through the roof and stole two paintings, leading us to believe they will be gone forever. In a police operation that targeted the Naples mafia in the town of Castellammare di Stabia near Pompeii, the pieces were found by accident, so to speak, and will be returned to the museum in Holland. The paintings are valued at several million dollars each.
David Hamilton has worked for many fashion magazines: Elle, Queen, Vogue, yet what he is most famous for are his photographs of early-teen girls, often nude. This is why, like Sally Mann and Jock Sturges, he was the subject of controversy including child pornography allegations. In fact, several his photography books are banned in South Africa for moral reasons, and in 2005 a man was convicted for being in possession of 19.000 images of children, including photos by David Hamilton. Similar thing happened in 2010, because another man owned his book The Age of Innocence. To date, he has published over 25 books with great success, although the debate on whether his works are art or pornography is still very much alive and well.
I had the amazing opportunity to see the work of Alexis Diaz and, as much as it seems incredible, it is even more unbelievable in person. The detail, the precision, the patience you can feel are almost overwhelming, no matter what the topic is. He surely is one of our all-time favorite artists, not just in urban art, and we’re more than glad to follow his murals and studio works around the world. His latest endeavor took him to Arkansas, where he participated in The Unexpected festival. It depicts an own sitting on a tree, perfectly fitting in the already crumbling facade of the building it was painted on. An owl with a human eye inserted in its torso is evocative of the Native America belief in therianthropy, a mythological ability of humans that enables them to turn into animals.
If we’re talking about the most important artists of the 19th century and beyond, we can’t not mention Paul Cézanne, whose extraordinary artworks served as the bridge between Impressionism and the avant-garde movements of the 20th century. More than a century later, his works are still among the highest-priced in the world. When Cézanne decided to drift away from the traditional values in painting, it was one of the crucial points in modern art, as he went to influence movements like Cubism (Picasso and Matisse often called him “The father of us all”). He is famous for intense studies of his subjects as well as the often exploratory, repetitive brushstrokes, building up to form complex fields.
Spencer Tunick made his name in many creative fields, including photography and performance. We remember when, in August, he had some 3000 people from Hull, England, walk the streets of their city naked and painted entirely in blue to raise awareness about global warming. Some two weeks ago, the artist was in Jerusalem where he photographed 15 Israeli men and women at the Dead Sea to draw attention to its deterioration. He returned with the models to the same place on the shores of the Dead Sea, called Mineral Beach, where he created a photo installation with 1,000 nude Israelis in 2011. The spot has since been destroyed by sinkholes. Spencer Tunick’s new exhibit, which includes the nude art from 2011, is on view in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.
Banksy has been a part of our list of most popular contemporary artists ever since it exists, often never leaving the top 5. Why should this month be any different? No matter what happens, or doesn’t happen in his life and career, he will always be in the spotlight. In September, the media were (once again) speculating about Banksy’s real identity, because apparently people cannot handle not knowing who someone is at a time when technology and internet allow us no privacy of any kind. Who is Banksy this time? Robert Del Naja, one of the members of the band Massive Attack. While we don’t really care about who Banksy is, isn’t, or should be, people will ramble on and undergraduate students will research and write entire papers on the matter. In the meantime, we’re waiting for the world’s most famous street artist to appear out of nowhere and amaze us all once again.
Here, take a look at the complete list of your most popular contemporary artists last month and compare their rankings to previous months as well!