Contemporary Artists

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The art that developed in the second half of the 20th century and the 21st century is called contemporary art. Contemporary art is characterized by the lack of a uniform ideology or organizing principle. Here is a list of some of the most famous contemporary artists of all time.
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 1 
Yayoi Kusama
(Contemporary Artist)
Yayoi Kusama
8
Birthdate: March 22, 1929
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Matsumoto, Nagano, Japan
Japanese contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama is known for her variety of artforms, including sculpture, installations, paintings, and fashion. She mingles elements such as feminism, surrealism, and abstract expressionism, and expresses her struggle with mental illness through her art. She has also published books and produced an award-winning film. 
 2 
Ai Weiwei
(Artistic Consultant for Design of the Beijing National Stadium)
Ai Weiwei
6
Birthdate: August 28, 1957
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Beijing, China
Named Art Review’s most powerful artist in 2011, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has become a symbol of resilience against the authoritarian Chinese government. Jailed and banned from leaving the country once, he is known for using various media, such as sculpture, photos, and documentaries, to reflect Chinese human-rights abuses.
 3 
Stuart Sutcliffe
(Scottish Musician Best Remembered for His Association with the Popular Rock Band 'The Beatles')
Stuart Sutcliffe
3
Birthdate: June 23, 1940
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: April 10, 1962

Stuart Sutcliffe was a Scottish musician and painter. He is best remembered for his association with the popular rock band the Beatles, where he was the original bass guitarist. Before achieving popularity as a guitarist, Sutcliffe left the Beatles to pursue painting. Along with John Lennon, Stuart Sutcliffe is credited with coining the name Beetles, which later became the Beatles.

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 4 
Takashi Murakami
(Contemporary Artist Who Is the Founder and President of Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd)
Takashi Murakami
4
Birthdate: February 1, 1962
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan

Takashi Murakami is a Japanese contemporary artist who works in both fine arts media and commercial arts media. He is known for blurring the line between “high” and “low” arts. He is the founder of the art production and artist management company Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. He has collaborated with the fashion brand Louis Vuitton as well. 

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 5 
Victor Vasarely
(French Artist and Leader of the Op Art Movement Best Known for His Grid-Like Paintings and Sculptures)
Victor Vasarely
4
Birthdate: April 9, 1906
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Pécs, Hungary
Died: March 15, 1997

Hungarian-French artist Victor Vasarely pioneered the Op Art movement, using geometric angles and depth in works such as Vega-Nor. He initially worked as a graphic artist in advertising agencies and then created masterpieces influenced by Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism. His work Zebra remains one of his best-known pieces.

 6 
Joseph Beuys
(German Abstract Painter and Founder of a Provocative Art Movement Known as 'Fluxus')
Joseph Beuys
6
Birthdate: May 12, 1921
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Krefeld, Germany
Died: January 23, 1986

It is believed Joseph Beuys was rescued by Tartars when his air force plane broke down in Crimea during World War II. He later gained fame as an avant-garde sculptor and artist and part of the group Fluxus. His works used unconventional media, with some even including staged actions.

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 7 
George Condo
(Visual Artist Who Works in Painting, Drawing, Sculpture and Printmaking)
George Condo
4
Birthdate: December 10, 1957
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Concord, New Hampshire, United States
 8 
Félix González-Torres
(American Visual Artist Known for His Quiet, Minimal Installations and Sculptures)
Félix González-Torres
3
Birthdate: November 26, 1957
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Guáimaro, Cuba
Died: January 9, 1996

Félix González-Torres was an American visual artist best remembered for his sculptures and minimal installations made out of everyday objects like lightbulbs, stacks of paper, clocks, and packaged hard candies. In 2010, his 1992 piece Untitled sold for $4.6 million at an auction. Félix González-Torres died at the age of 38 due to complications from AIDS.

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 9 
Philip Guston
(Painter and Printmaker Whose Work Bridged the Gap Between Abstract Expressionism and Neo-Expressionism)
Philip Guston
4
Birthdate: June 27, 1913
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Montreal, Canada
Died: June 7, 1980
 10 
Matthew Barney
(Contemporary Artist Best Known for His Avant-Garde Film Series)
Matthew Barney
4
Birthdate: March 25, 1967
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: San Francisco, California, United States

Matthew Barney is an American film director and contemporary artist best known for his work in the fields of film, sculpture, drawing, and photography. Barney's works explore connections between biology, geography, mythology, and geology. Over the course of his career, Matthew Barney has won several awards like the Hugo Boss Prize and James D. Phelan Art Award.

 11 
Gerhard Richter
(Top-selling photo-painter and abstract artist whose best-known works included "Atlas" and "Baader-Meinhof.")
Gerhard Richter
4
Birthdate: February 9, 1932
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Dresden, Germany

German visual artist Gerhard Richter started out as a Social Realist painter and was later exposed to avant-garde art. He mastered the art of painting scenes collected from newspapers and magazines, including terrorists and serial killer victims. He later also worked on stained-glass design and abstract art.

 12 
Paul McCarthy
(Contemporary artist)
Paul McCarthy
4
Birthdate: August 4, 1945
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
 13 
Gottfried Helnwein
(Austrian-Irish Visual Artist Known for His Photorealistic Paintings of Disturbing Subject Matter)
Gottfried Helnwein
3
Birthdate: October 8, 1948
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria

Born in Austria, contemporary visual artist Gottfried Helnwein later bought a castle in Cologne, where he worked, and then moved to Ireland, where he bought another castle and transformed it into his studio. His hyper-realistic performance art and installations, known as Aktions, reflect grim themes such as the Holocaust.

 14 
Pippa Bacca
(Artist)
Pippa Bacca
6
Birthdate: December 9, 1974
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Milan, Italy
Died: March 31, 2008

Pippa Bacca made international headlines in March 2008, when she was found naked and strangled on the outskirts of Istanbul. The Italian feminist artist had apparently been raped and murdered in the middle of her hitch-hiking program Brides on Tour, which had her traveling from Milan dressed as a bride.

 15 
Yves Klein
(French Artist Who Was Known for His Daring Experiments and Monochrome Paintings)
Yves Klein
4
Birthdate: April 28, 1928
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Nice, France
Died: June 6, 1962

Known for his blue monochrome paintings, French artist Yves Klein was a major figure of the Nouveau réalisme art movement. Though born to artist parents, he initially mastered judo and even taught it. His experiments included fire paintings and his Anthropométries, which involved naked models covered in paint pressing against canvases.

 16 
Sophie Calle
(French Writer, Photographer, Installation Artist, and Conceptual Artist)
Sophie Calle
4
Birthdate: October 9, 1953
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France

Sophie Calle is a French photographer, writer, conceptual artist, and installation artist. Her work is associated with and evokes a popular French literary movement called Oulipo which came into existence in the 1960s. Renowned for her ability to investigate strangers, Calle’s work often depicts human vulnerability. Also an educator, Calle has taught at popular educational institutions like European Graduate School.

 17 
Leigh Bowery
(Contemporary Artist & Fashion Designer Known for His Flamboyant & Outlandish Costumes & Makeup)
Leigh Bowery
4
Birthdate: March 26, 1961
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Died: December 31, 1994
 18 
Alison Lapper
(Mouth & Foot Painting Artist)
Alison Lapper
4
Birthdate: April 7, 1965
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, England

Alison Lapper is a British artist who uses art forms like painting, digital imaging, and photography to question physical beauty and normality. Born with a condition called phocomelia, Lapper often uses herself as a subject. Lapper achieved national recognition when she posed for Marc Quinn's sculpture. Titled Alison Lapper Pregnant, the sculpture occupied the fourth plinth between 2005 and 2007.

 19 
Patricia Piccinini
(Australian Sculptor Known for Her Hyper-Realistic Sculptures)
Patricia Piccinini
3
Birthdate: 1965 AD
Birthplace: Freetown, Sierra Leone

Best known for her hyper-realistic sculptures made of materials such as silicone, fiber glass, and human hair, Australian sculptor Patricia Piccinini has created iconic works such as Graham and Bootflower. The Sierra Leone-born artist initially made drawings at medical museums and later used her knowledge of human anatomy in her art.

 20 
Pacita Abad
(Painter)
Pacita Abad
0
Birthdate: October 5, 1946
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Basco, Batanes, Philippines
Died: December 7, 2004
 21 
Jean Tinguely
(Swiss Sculptor Best Known for His Kinetic Art Sculptural Machines (Métamatics))
Jean Tinguely
3
Birthdate: May 22, 1925
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Fribourg, Switzerland
Died: August 30, 1991

Part of the Nouveau Réalisme art movement, Swiss sculptor Jean Tinguely developed a form of kinetic art known as metamatics, which consisted of self-destructing sculptures. Homage to New York, installed at the Museum of Modern Art was one of his best-known works. He ridiculed man’s dependence on technology through his works.

 22 
Cai Guo-Qiang
6
Birthdate: December 8, 1957
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Quanzhou, Fujian, China
 23 
Arturo Di Modica
4
Birthdate: January 26, 1941
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Vittoria, Italy
Died: February 19, 2021

Arturo Di Modica was a sculptor best known for creating the bronze sculpture Charging Bull. Born in Italy during World War II, he studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze and later moved to USA. He opened his own studios and built a brilliant career, often holding major exhibitions. His Charging Bull has often been featured in media. 

 24 
David Wojnarowicz
4
Birthdate: September 14, 1954
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Red Bank, New Jersey, United States
Died: July 22, 1992
 25 
Francesco Clemente
(Former contemporary artist who was among the principal figures in the Italian Transavanguardia movement of the 1980s)
Francesco Clemente
3
Birthdate: March 23, 1952
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Naples, Italy
 26 
Brion Gysin
(Painter, Writer Known for His Discovery of the Cut-up Technique)
Brion Gysin
6
Birthdate: January 19, 1916
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Taplow, England
Died: July 13, 1986

Brion Gysin was a Canadian painter, sound poet, writer, and performance artist. Gysin was also known as an inventor of experimental devices; he is credited with inventing the Dreamachine, a stroboscopic flicker device. Brion Gysin's ideas went on to inspire the artists of the Beat Generation and other prominent personalities like Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Laurie Anderson, and Keith Haring. 

 27 
Vanessa Beecroft
(American Contemporary Performance Artist)
Vanessa Beecroft
4
Birthdate: April 25, 1969
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Genoa, Italy

Vanessa Beecroft is a contemporary performance artist who often works with professional models to stage tableaux vivants. In 2018, she used Kim Kardashian as her model for the release of the latter's perfume brand. A controversial personality, Vanessa Beecroft's unsuccessful attempt to adopt Sudanese twins inspired a derogative documentary titled The Art Star and the Sudanese Twins by Pietra Brettkelly.

 28 
Christian Boltanski
(French Sculptor, Photographer, Painter Known for His Contemporary French Conceptual Style)
Christian Boltanski
3
Birthdate: September 6, 1944
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: July 14, 2021

Christian Boltanski was a French sculptor, painter, photographer, and filmmaker. Best remembered for his contemporary French conceptual style and photography installations, Boltanski took part in more than 150 art exhibitions around the world. He also won several prestigious prizes like the Praemium Imperiale Award.

 29 
Marlene Dumas
(Painter)
Marlene Dumas
4
Birthdate: August 3, 1953
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Cape Town, South Africa
 30 
Julie Mehretu
(Contemporary visual artist, known for her multi-layered paintings of abstracted landscapes on a large scale)
Julie Mehretu
0
Birthdate: 1970 AD
Birthplace: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
 31 
Betye Saar
(Artist)
Betye Saar
4
Birthdate: July 30, 1926
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States
 32 
Domiziana Giordano
3
Birthdate: September 4, 1959
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Rome, Lazio, Italy
 33 
Zurab Tsereteli
(Russian Painter, Sculptor and Architect Known for Large-Scale and at Times Controversial Monuments)
Zurab Tsereteli
3
Birthdate: January 4, 1934
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Tbilisi, Georgia

Zurab Tsereteli is a Georgian painter, architect, and sculptor best known for his large-scale and controversial monuments. An influential figure, Tsereteli has been serving as the Russian Academy of Arts' President since 1997. Zurab Tsereteli is the recipient of several prestigious awards and honors, such as the USSR State Prize, Lenin Prize, and Russian Federation State Prize. 

 34 
Ernst Fuchs
(Former artist who was one of the founders of the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism)
Ernst Fuchs
3
Birthdate: February 13, 1930
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: November 9, 2015

Paintings, sculpture, and prints of Austrian painter, sculptor, poet, composer, singer, architect, draftsman, printmaker, and stage designer Ernst Fuchs addressed themes of religion and mysticism. Student of the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts, Fuchs co-founded the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism. He acquired the Otto Wagner Villa in Hütteldorf, which was later transformed and inaugurated as the Ernst Fuchs Museum.

 35 
Antoni Tàpies
( Catalan Spanish Artist Known for Introducing Contemporary Abstract Painting into Spain)
Antoni Tàpies
4
Birthdate: December 13, 1923
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Barcelona, Spain
Died: February 6, 2012

Antoni Tàpies was a Spanish painter, sculptor, and art theorist. He is regarded as one of the most famous European artists of his generation. He studied at the German School of Barcelona, following which he embarked on a successful artistic career. He became one of the most renowned Spanish artists in the second half of the 20th century. 

 36 
Tino Sehgal
(Artist who created installations that were known as “constructed situations)
Tino Sehgal
3
Birthdate: 1976 AD
Birthplace: London, England
 37 
Christian Marclay
(American-Swiss Visual Artist and Composer)
Christian Marclay
3
Birthdate: January 11, 1955
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: San Rafael, California, United States

American-Swiss artist Christian Marclay has revolutionized art by inventing turntablism, a method of manipulating sounds. He is also known for his unusual art installations, such as the video The Clock, a compilation of film scenes featuring clocks, which eventually won him the Golden Lion at the 2011 Venice Biennale.

 38 
Lawrence Weiner
4
Birthdate: February 10, 1942
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York, United States
 39 
Sigmar Polke
(German Painter and Photographer Who Co-founded the Capitalist Realism Movement in Art)
Sigmar Polke
3
Birthdate: February 13, 1941
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Olesnica, Poland
Died: June 10, 2010

Sigmar Polke was a German photographer and painter who experimented with several styles, materials, and subject matters. He is credited with founding Capitalist realism, an art movement that focuses on commodity-based art. He is also credited with developing a new technique to come up with mechanically produced paintings. Polke’s works influenced many younger artists like Julian Schnabel and Richard Prince.

 40 
John Stezaker
(Conceptual artist)
John Stezaker
3
Birthdate: 1949 AD
Birthplace: Worcester, England
 41 
Alberto Burri
(Italian Visual Artist and Painter Associated with the 'Matterism' of the European Informal Art Movement)
Alberto Burri
3
Birthdate: March 12, 1915
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Città di Castello, Italy
Died: February 13, 1995

Known for his artistic innovations, Alberto Burri was one of the most important artists of the Italian post-war period. Although passionate about painting since his childhood, he grew up to be army doctor, returning to the art while being interned as prisoner-of-war. Today, he is known as the precursor of Italian contemporary art, having direct influence on Arte Povera movement.  

 42 
Dan Graham
(Artist)
Dan Graham
3
Birthdate: March 31, 1942
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Urbana, Illinois
 43 
Daniel Buren
(French Conceptual Artist, Painter, and Sculptor Known for His Distinctive Site-Specific Installations of Alternating Stripe Patterns)
Daniel Buren
3
Birthdate: March 25, 1938
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Boulogne-Billancourt, France

Daniel Buren is a French conceptual artist, visual artist, sculptor, and painter. He is credited with creating many world-famous installations, such as Les Deux Plateaux. One of the most active and renowned artists on the international scene, Daniel Buren is the recipient of several prestigious awards like the Golden Lion and the Premium Imperiale.

 44 
Douglas Gordon
(Painter whose best-known art works is 24 Hour Psycho (1993), Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (2006))
Douglas Gordon
3
Birthdate: September 20, 1966
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland
 45 
David Salle
(Painter)
David Salle
3
Birthdate: September 28, 1952
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Norman, Oklahoma, United States
 46 
Michael Snow
(Film director, Painter)
Michael Snow
0
Birthdate: December 10, 1928
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Canadian avant-garde artist Michael Snow has also been associated with the development of the artistic scene in the US. Part of the structural film movement, he is best remembered for his experimental film Wavelength, which was a 45-minute movie on the events taking place in a room.

 47 
Thomas Ruff
(German Photographer and Prominent Member of the 'Düsseldorf School')
Thomas Ruff
3
Birthdate: February 10, 1958
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Zell, Germany

Thomas Ruff is a German photographer who developed his own method of conceptual serial photography. After studying photography from 1977 to 1985 at the Düsseldorf Art Academy, Ruff went on to establish himself as an acclaimed photographer. He then worked as a teacher at the Düsseldorf Art Academy, where he taught photography from 2000 to 2005.

 48 
Francis Alÿs
(Belgian-born Mexican Artist Best Known for His Films, Installations, and Performances Called 'Paseos')
Francis Alÿs
3
Birthdate: August 22, 1959
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Antwerp, Belgium

Belgian-born Francis Alÿs first moved to Mexico as part of a team that helped the country rebuild itself after its destruction in the 1985 earthquakes. He later settled there and created artwork using a variety of media, from painting to video. The Collector is one of his best-known works.

 49 
Jon Rafman
(Digital artist widely known for exhibiting found images from Google Street View in his online artwork 9-Eyes (2009-ongoing))
Jon Rafman
3
Birthdate: 1981 AD
Birthplace: Montreal, Canada
 50 
Leon Golub
(Painter)
Leon Golub
3
Birthdate: January 23, 1922
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: August 8, 2004