Who are the 20 most influential artists of the 21st century

Who are the 20 most influential artists of the 21st century?

Art has transformed in the past years. While many artists have gone down, there are 20 who have risen up and upwards only. The artistic expression, the imagery, the illustrations, and the digital incorporation have been some of the key elements of art in modern times. Influential artists in recent times have been able to make a serious impact on movements like Black Lives Matter, the migrant crisis, and other major crises across the world. So if you are looking to know who is most influential in terms of affecting the masses by contributing to social causes or auctioning off their art, here are the 20 most influential digital artists.    

  1. Ben Heine 

One of the pioneers of the modern arts, Ben Heine is a huge name in the industry. He received worldwide acknowledgement and fame when he came up with the breakthrough idea of original pieces of “Pencil Vs. Camera“, “Digital Circlism” and “Flesh and Acrylic”. Having taken only brief classes in History of Art, Painting and Sculpture at Hastings College of Arts & Technology in the UK, Heine’s rise as a phenomenon in the visual arts is a tale to tell to young artists. He has also explored the skills of drawing, photography, digital art and music. Furthermore, his shows, art shops, and website are a major showcase of his portfolio. His work has been published in prestigious international journals as well. He has been a major contributor to auctions at Art Price.

  1. Amoako Boafo

Born in 1984, in Accra, Ghana, Boafo’s recent work at the Mariane Ibrahim Gallery was a sellout. He made his auction debut at in Phillips in London in 2019 where he sold The Lemon Bathing Suit (2019) for £675,000 ($875,000). He has been a major favourite for the auctions for leading art institutions including the likes The Guggenheim Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Vienna’s Albertina Museum who already have gained some so the work done by Boafo. In 2021, he partnered up with Dior menswear designer Kim Jones for the company’s summer 2021. Setting up a studio complex and offering internships to aspiring artists is one of his greatest aspirations for the future. 

  1. Banksy

Born in 1974, in Yate, England, this British artist has a cult following. He is one of the most influential artists in recent times. He was able to make his impact in the UK even in the COVID-19 phase as well. From gifting a painting to the NHS to make money and raise funds through its sales, to again providing his services and his artwork for fundraising, Banksy has been influential in raising significant money for healthcare. He further offered his work Mediterranean Sea View 2017 to the Sotheby’s sale to raise money for the healthcare centre in Bethlehem. This auction allowed Banksy to raise over £2.2 million ($2.8 million) through his work for a charity cause. 

Banksy’s role in the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean with the spinoff of Claude Monet’s Giverny paintings, Show Me the Monet (2005), raised £7.5 million ($9.7 million). His artistic skills and his humanitarian works have been major influential artists in recent times. 

  1. Betye Saar

Born in 1926, in Los Angeles, USA, Betye Saar carried out the landmark exhibition “Betye Saar: Call and Response” in 2021 in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It was a revolutionary effort for her as an artist. Now 94 years old, Saar has conducted shows on sketchbooks and drawings as well. She has also been an active part of the major museum shows. She was the recipient of the 2020 Wolfgang Hahn Prize as well. 

  1. Christine Sun Kim

Born in 1980, in Orange County, California, she performed at the Super Bowl LIV in February 2020 where she made a great impression. Kim has been one of the leading and most sought-after artists in recent times. Her work of 2018 One Week of Lullabies for Roux achieved the feat of Smithsonian American Art Museum’s first-ever sound installation. She was further named a Ford Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s inaugural Disability Futures Fellows as well. She also carried out solo exhibitions at the MIT List Visual Arts Center and the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo Shibuya Koen-dori Gallery. She is one of the leading names in recent times. 

  1. Deana Lawson

Born in 1979, in Rochester, New York, Lawson is the pioneer photographer who has won the prestigious Hugo Boss Prize for contemporary art. She was critically acclaimed by the critics for her deep-rooted” contributions to arts while involving a broader cultural landscape. With a career span of over 15 years, she has excelled as a foremost contemporary photographer. Her meticulous display of Black people is considered a major naturalistic display. She has been involved in the biggest institutional exhibition to date, “Centropy” at the Kunsthalle Basel in Switzerland in June. She also achieved the feat of a solo exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in spring 2021. 

  1. Frank Bowling

Bowling, born in 1934, in Guyana, has been a legend of the field as an abstract painter. Being knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and having collaborated with mega-gallery Hauser & Wirth. He will be conducting a solo exhibition in 2021. 

  1. Grayson Perry

Perry, a British-born artist, turned to Channel 4 during the lockdown where he launched Grayson’s Art Club in April with his wife.  He also ensured that not only did he showcase the life of a regular Britain but he also carried out exhibitions and projects as well. 

  1. Tarek Atoui

Born in 1980, in Beirut, this Lebanese artist and composer has been awarded the 2022 Suzanne Deal Booth / FLAG Art Foundation Prize by The Contemporary Austin. This award will allow him to get a deal of solo exhibition, publication, and $200,000 as a prize. His artwork explores the perception of sound. He held his biggest solo show “Cycles in 11” at the Sharjah Art Foundation, in 2021. He has collaborated with the deaf community as well. 

  1. Tarek Atoui

Born in 1980, in Beirut, this Lebanese artist and composer has been awarded the 2022 Suzanne Deal Booth / FLAG Art Foundation Prize by The Contemporary Austin. This award will allow him to get a deal of solo exhibition, publication, and $200,000 as a prize. His artwork explores the perception of sound. He held his biggest solo show “Cycles in 11” at the Sharjah Art Foundation, in 2021. He has collaborated with the deaf community as well. 

  1. Haegue Yang

Yang, a Korean born in 1971, has been an influential artist who has explored multimedia installations to a great degree. Her work “In the Cone of Uncertainty” and commission Handles in 2019 presented wall pieces and floor sculptures and got her much acclaim. 

  1. Matthew Wong

Wong was born in 1984 in Toronto. Despite his mental issues and his death in 2019, his impact on art has been significant. His solo exhibition “Blue” happened posthumously in New York gallery Karma in January 2020. His paintings of moonlit landscapes and serene interiors showcased his skills in colour and composition. His work especially his 2018 painting River at Dusk was auctioned off at HK$37.7 million (US$4.8 million) at a Phillips and Poly Auction sale.

  1. Patrisse Cullors

Cullors was born in 1983 in Los Angeles, USA. She has led her art into political values as well. She has been attributed as one of the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement. It is a known fact that Crenshaw Dairy Mart, which opened before the Pandemic lockdown is one of the outcomes of Cullors’s work on racial justice. She has been showing major commitment to political causes.

  1. Sandra Gamarra

Sandra Gamarra, born in Lima in 1973, has been working while challenging the supremacy of the museums in recent times. In 2019, she conducted a solo show named “Still Life-Showcase-Museum-Showcase-Still Life”. The exhibitions highlighted painted reconstructions of museum holdings in Gamarra’s conceptual work. She further analyzed colonialist and capitalist hierarchies in the museums as well. She further got shortlisted for the inaugural Julius Baer Prize as well. Her influence in contemporary art has been rising with time. 

  1. Toyin Ojih Odutola

Born in 1985, in Nigeria, Odutola is a pioneer in graphic design.  His work “A Countervailing Theory” led to a major exhibition in London. 

  1. Ruth Asawa

Born in 1926, in California, Asawa was a major pioneer in arts. She did the wire sculptures and was awarded the postage stamps honouring her art in 2020. 

  1. Titus Kaphar

He has been best known for the accurate description of European history paintings. His name has been a major one in contemporary art. His work Analogous Colors (2020), was featured in Time magazine’s June issue in the wake of BLM. 

  1. Nicolas Party

A Swiss artist who works in colourful landscapes, androgynous portraits, and flamboyant murals and sculptures, Party is one of a kind. He has been present at many auctions and conducted solo shows with Xavier Hufkens in Brussels and FLAG Art Foundation in New York. He will be conducting solo shows at both MASI Lugano and Kestner Gesellschaft.

  1. Brook Andrew

Born in 1970, in Sydney, Celtic artist Brook has been featured at the 22nd Biennale of Sydney. Being the first Indigenous person in his profession, he has been emphasizing the role of fellow First Nations artists in the field. 

  1. Zanele Muholi

Born in Durban, South Africa, Muholi gained fame with the art exhibition in Venice Biennale’s central exhibition in 2019. Their artwork at Tate Modern showcases the visual activism of the artist in the past. The artwork is majorly based on the traumatic experiences of the LGBTQIA+ community in South Africa. 

Barbara Santini

Barbara is a freelance writer and a sex and relationships adviser at Dimepiece LA and Peaches and Screams. Barbara is involved in various educational initiatives aimed at making sex advice more accessible to everyone and breaking stigmas around sex across various cultural communities. In her spare time, Barbara enjoys trawling through vintage markets in Brick Lane, exploring new places, painting and reading.

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