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The Best Living Abstract Artists on the Market Today

The origin of abstract art is often dated to 1910 when Wassily Kandinsky painted the first non-figurative artwork in the history of modern art. His painting, bearing the inscription “abstract watercolor” on the back contained no evocation of observed reality. His piece would come to launch one of the most popular artistic genres of the 20th century. In this article we take a look at just some of the best living abstract artists of today from a wide range of artistic and cultural backgrounds. Abstract art is a broad genre with many variations and sub-genres included therein. The boundaries of abstract art are continuously being pushed by contemporary artists who are both inspired by its forefathers and invested in bringing abstract art into the future. Take a look!

Best Living Abstract Artists from Africa to North America

Born in Caracas (Venezuela) in 1923, Carlos Cruz-Diez moved to and worked in Paris in 1960. He experimented and theorized enormously on the phenomenon of color in the field of art by developing in particular the perceptual universe of this last. Cruz-Diez understands color as an autonomous reality, evolving in real space and time, without past or future, into a perpetual present. In his works, color becomes a reality that can exist without recourse to a form or a support.

Carlos Cruz-Diez, Color Aditivo Serie, 1920 Best Living Abstract Artists
Carlos Cruz-Diez, Color Aditivo Serie, 1920

Top Abstract Painters Today: Julie Mehretu

Born in 1970 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Julie Mehretu is one of the most important and promising artists of her generation. After studying in Dakar, Senegal, she left her city and settled down in the United States where she still lives. Faced visually and physically with the megalopolis of its history, Julie Mehretu will use these great urban landscapes as a source of inspiration for her immense abstract canvases, filled with explosions of forms and colors. Julie Mehretu painted Retopistics: A Renegade Excavation in 2001. Her biggest canvas at the time (2,5m x 5,3m) is a visual explosion that subtly suggests the inequality of the relationship between the rich and the poor who are not able to appropriate public spaces in a similar way. Retopistics was sold for $ 4.6 million in 2013 at a Christie’s auction, placing Julie Mehretu among the top 10 most expensive living artists.

Julie Mehretu, Retopictics: A Renegade Excavation, 2001 Best Living Abstract Artists
Julie Mehretu, Retopictics: A Renegade Excavation, 2001

Robert Ryman’s Revolutionary Minimal Abstract Art

Born in 1930 in Nashville, Robert Ryman initially intended to become a jazz saxophonist. He moved to New York to try his luck and must quickly found odd jobs to survive. So it came that he become a museum keeper. It was during this experience that lasted 8 years that he was captivated by the acquisitions to the MoMA of abstract expressionist painters. He decided to start painting, and for the last fifty years he has worked on the same square format, variable in size, and uses a single color, white, to make many different paintings.

His work is identified with the movements of monochromatic works, minimalism and conceptual art.In 1980, Ryman creates Bridge, an oil painting on canvas with four painted metal fasteners and square bolts. His work was sold in 2015 at Christie’s for $ 20.6 million.

 Robert Ryman, No. 657, 1973 Best Living Abstract Artists
Robert Ryman, No. 657, 1973

Uber Cool Textured Abstract Painting by Zhu Jinshi

Zhu Jinshi was born in Beijing in 1954 and produces abstract paintings whose surfaces are constructed of thick layers of oil paint recalling the style and techniques espoused by the German expressionists from which Zhu was deeply influenced during his years of life in Berlin.In his series entitled The Reality of Paint, Zhu Jinshi paints Amateur Chess Player in 2012.

Zhu Jinshi, Amateur Chess Player, 2012 Best Living Abstract Artists
Zhu Jinshi, Amateur Chess Player, 2012

Abstract painting in Oceania

John Olsen was born in 1928 in Newcastle, Australia. He moved to Bondi Beach with his family 7 years later where his fascination for the port of Sydney began. His studies led him to France, Spain and England and let him return to Australia in 1960 with the intention of representing the Australian culture through the landscapes of the interior lands.John Olsen has always claimed to have never painted an abstract painting of his life and defined his work as an exploration of landscapes. He remains nevertheless categorized as an abstract painter by the middle of art.

John Olsen, Sydney Sun, 1965
John Olsen, Sydney Sun, 1965

The Best Living Abstract Artist of our Time?

Born in Dresden in 1932, Gerhard Richter followed classical studies imposed by the standards of socialist realism, but then moved to the West for the love to abstract paintings. His rare singularity lays in practicing simultaneously figurative and abstract registers. Today he is regarded as one of the best living abstract artists.

He painted Abstraktes Bild in 1986. High over 3m by 2.5m. This painting was built by Richter through the accumulation of paint, which was then removed with a piece of wood to produce a multi-layered image full of colors.Sold in 2015 for $ 46 million, Abstraktes Bild is described as the artist’s greatest abstract work. This sale gives Gerhard Richter the title of the most expensive European artist who is still alive.

Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild, 1986
Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild, 1986


Do you love abstract art? See more amazing abstract works by contemporary artists on Singulart.

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