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Top 5 Living Artists Who Shaped The Art Market

The contemporary Art Market is in constant flux. At every moment, contemporary art is renewed and offers new discoveries with new artists and artworks. The market is full of surprises with records constantly being broken at auctions. Contemporary art is becoming more and more expensive and increasingly popular – with some living artists seeing their popularity outperform modern artists such as Monet, Hopper or Picasso

Following the lastest publication of the Art Price Report on World auction records in contemporary arts, Singulart offers you a quick overview of the 5 most sold living artists in the world today! 

1/ Jeff Koons – 1955 – USA

Award : Record for the most expensive work of contemporary art sold at auction in 2019 

“Tulips”, by Jeff Koons, Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain (photos credit : Jules Verne Times Two / / CC-BY-SA-4.0)

Particularly famous for his innovative as audacious techniques, the most expensive and best-selling living artist in the world is Jeff Koons. His shiny and flashy stainless steel sculptures such as his ‘Rabbits’, ‘Balloon Dogs’ or ‘Tulips’ are easily recognizable. Cultivating kitsch with popular imagery and referred to as the Neo Pop Artist of Billionaires, Jeff Koons nevertheless takes on immeasurable technical challenges with each new sculpture despite the apparent simplicity of his work. 

2/ Peter Doig – 1959 – Scotland

Awards : 14 of the top 100 most expensive works sold at auction between 2019 and 2020.  

Peter Doig, Boiler House, 1993, sold €13.182.230 at Christie’s London, 2020

Less mediatized than Jeff Koons, Peter Doig is nevertheless one of the most highly-rated contemporary artists in the world: 2nd behind Basquiat in 2017 and having auctioned 14 of the top 100 most expensive works of art in the world over the last year. Living and working in Trinidad, Peter Doig’s work is inspired by historical movements such as the German Romanticism, highlighting men’s unease with the idyllic vastness of Nature. Peter Doig’s work focuses on Beauty, colour and atmosphere and rejects the mental processes advocated by conceptual currents. 

3/ Christopher Wool – 1955 – USA

Award: 11 of the 100 most expensive works sold at auction between 2019 and 2020

Christopher Wool, Riot, 1990, sold €23,744,000 at Sotheby’s NYC, 2015

Christopher Wool‘s best known and most popular period is between
1980-1990s when the artist painted with a black bomb, large stencilled letters on a white canvas background. As a post-conceptual artist, he works on the repetition of the motif and borrows his aesthetic from the urban environment. Christopher Wool’s works take on their full meaning and strength when the word painted on the canvas is read aloud by the viewer. Works become contested as they are institutional

4 – Zeng Fanzhi – 1964 – China

Award : Record of the most expensive Asian artist in the world. 

Zeng Fanzhi, Mask series n°6, 1996, sold €10,736,070 arPoly Auction Hong Kong, 2017

Zeng Fanzhi is today the most popular and expensive living Asian artist in the world. After the sale of Mask Series No. 6 at auction in 2017, his work The Last Supper sold on the first market in Hong Kong for more than 31 million euros. His figurative and humorous work mixes Chinese history and personal history. His original language is inspired as much by the great masters of Western art as by a direct filiation to Asian art. A work that is satyric and sometimes challenging, yet personal and full of emotions. 

5 – Damian Hirst – 1965 – UK

Award:  3 of the 100 most expensive works sold at auction between 2019 and 2020.  

Damian Hirst, The Kingdom, 2008, sold €10,723,600, Sotheby’s London, 2008

Member and leader of the Young British Artists (YBA) group in the 1990s, Damian Hirst, made a thunderous entrance on the art market with his installations dealing with the relationship between life and death. His most famous but also most macabre and controversial series is his work of the 1990s on animal corpses, cut in half, immersed in formaldehyde and presented in an aquarium.

Mother & Child divided from 1993 showing a cow and her calf cut in half received the Turner Prize, but this award was deemed unacceptable by a section of the public denouncing cynicism and animal abuse. The sale of The Kingdom (above), featuring a shark corpse cut in half, was a scandal but not for its macabre nature.

For the first time, the artist violated a fundamental rule of the art market, bypassing the middleman and selling an artwork directly from the studio to the auction. The sale was a success and exceeded 10 million euros, not beating the previous year’s record: 100 million dollars for the platinum and diamond sculpture For the Love of God.

Contemporary Art and in particular our living artists are today as much valued by the World Art Market as our Artists-Monuments of Art History.

Discover the new artists who tomorrow may shape the international market by browsing the collection made by our experts on the Singulart Rising Stars.