Monday, October 26, 2009

100 Contemporary Artists that You Need to Know, NOW! Including Famous, Established and Emerging Artists

I am finally at 100 blog posts! Thank you for joining me on this journey, however long you have been sharing it with me.

To celebrate my 100th post, I give you monster of a list post of 100 Contemporary Artists that you need to know, NOW. This post goes with my goals of "Artists supporting Artists," and sharing the my knowledge and research with others. If you are on Facebook, you know that I am always sharing events and articles that I believe others would be interested in knowing. This list is no exception. However, before we get to the list, let me clarify a few points.
  • Who is a Contemporary Artist?
According to Wikipedia, contemporary artists are defined as "artists who create contemporary art, i.e. those whose peak of activity can be situated somewhere between the 1970s (the advent of postmodernism) and the present day." Wikipedia has a great list (much longer than mine) of contemporary artists that you can find at this link Wikipedia Contemporary Artists.

The problem for me with their list is exclusive to people who have "Artists in this list have gained recognition or proven their importance because their work has been shown in contemporary art exhibitions of worldwide importance (such as the documenta or the Venice Biennale, the Sao Paulo Art Biennial or exhibited in major modern or contemporary art museums and institutes)."

To me the art that has been chosen for the famous Biennales may not be the most inventive or the most thought provoking. They were chosen by a set of critics who decide what the artist is at top of their game and already dominating the art world. But by the time that you get that far up in the ranks as a critic, you can lose your connection to the local and the NOW. That is where I come in.
  • I went to art school, college for art or studied art history. What can you tell me that I don't already know?
Art History classes are wonderful. They give you information about the artists that made history, and show you enough slides that you can identify a Picasso from a Pollock. If you take a contemporary art history class, you may even read about some of these names towards the last few weeks of your semester. However, art history classes and books are slow to choose new people to include in their books, and usually they get through into a short lecture at the end titled "Feminist art" or "Graffiti artists."

My goal here is to add some more names to the lists of artist that you know. It is not to replace anyone. I seek out new artists all the time to look at, to write about and think about. In the age of the internet, there are endless opportunities to discover artists, famous, established or emerging, that MOVE you.
  • How did you pick the artists to be on this list?
This is a biased list. I fully admit that. I chose artists that moved me when I saw there work. I chose fiber artists, installation artists, sculptors, encaustic artists, painters and book artists. It is what I am drawn to, and so they made it to the list. Here is how I made the list.

I wrote down all the names of artists that were a big influence on me, including many artists from the PBS series "Art: 21." Art:21 is an amazing series that shows famous, established and even some relativity emerging artists in work at their studios, installing shows and talking about their work. It is by far one of the best ways to get a glimpse into the world of a famous artist and really get to know them. And it is in the artists own words; not narrated postmortem. Almost 20% of my list is from that series; and they have been labeled with (Art: 21.) I am not in love with all of the artists on this list, but I do think that we need to know them. The Art: 21 website has video clips and biographies of all these artists and they are very much worth your time.

Also included in my list are including many SDSU instructors, graduate students (MFA recipients too) and local San Diego artists. 30% of the artists on this list are from San Diego. I cannot help it. I see these artists' work more frequently than the famous artists, and know that they are actively showing. With a city as huge as San Diego, there are countless artists that I could include on this list. I just don't know the work of all of them, so I included the ones that I know of who are making INTERESTING work.

Finally, I made sure to add some emerging artists to this list. It is what makes my list different from Wikipedia. These are artists that you need to know NOW because they are the future. Maybe it is because I am an older art student. Maybe it is because I write about art. But I see the future of what art is going to be in the work of the new artists that are just starting out. They are combining mediums, performing, using computers and going back to hand crafts. Every which way that the art world is going can be seen through this emerging artists. They may take a long time to get into the history books, but that is not the apparent goal. Most of them are looking for a way to make their mark on the world one stroke at a time. It is brilliant and energetic. It is real and NOW. And we need to take notice.
  • You forgot my favorite artist __________! Can we add them to this list?
That is the same reaction that I had when I saw that Kiki Smith was excluded from the Wikipedia list! I welcome suggestions for the next list. I am only one person and ignorance of your favorite artist may be the only reason why I did not include them on the list. Please add your comments, names and links to this blog post. I would love to know who moves you.
  • What are with these categories next to the names? How can you limit an artist's whole body of work down to just those few words?
The artists are in alphabetical order by last name. Next to each artist is a short list of identifiers, such as painting, sculpture, ceramic, installation, fiber, video, figure, encaustic, etc.. This, again, is not all inclusive. I can name only a few artists that only work in one medium. I tried to give you a quick hint of what they do so that you are more likely to check out the links.

Thanks for reading my clarifications! Now the list...

100 Contemporary Artists that You Need to Know, NOW! by Jaime Lyerly

  1. Eleanor Antin San Diego, video, photography, performance (Art: 21)
  2. Janine Antoni video, sculpture, performance (Art: 21)
  3. Adrian Arleo figure, ceramics
  4. Ruth Asawa fiber, sculpture
  5. Dia Bassett San Diego, dance, video, sculpture
  6. Lisa Bebi San Diego, painting, paper works
  7. Louise Bourgeois sculpture, metal, public art (Art: 21)
  8. The Brothers Quay video
  9. John Brown figure, sculpture, metal
  10. Michele Burgess San Diego, bookmaking, paper works
  11. Judy Chicago installation, feminist
  12. Chuck Close painting
  13. Sue Coe painting
  14. Deborah T. Colter painting
  15. Miles Conrad encaustic, sculpture
  16. Janet Cooling painting, feminist
  17. Lael Corbin San Diego, sculpture
  18. Joseph Cornell sculpture, assemblage
  19. Bryan Czibesz San Diego, ceramics, sculpture
  20. Brian Dick San Diego, sculpture
  21. Jesus Y. Dominguez San Diego, sculpture
  22. Tara Donovan sculpture, installation
  23. Jeanne Dunn painting
  24. Catherine Easton-Skinner painting, sculpture
  25. Lois Epperson Gale encaustic, painting
  26. Cai Gu0-Qiang sculpture, installation (Art: 21)
  27. David Fobes San Diego, 2-D works, furniture
  28. Catherine Foster metal, sculpture
  29. Tom Fox San Diego, metal,assemblage, sculpture
  30. Jordan Gehman San Diego, furniture
  31. Eileen P. Goldenberg encaustic, painting
  32. Andy Goldsworthy land art, public art
  33. Cynthia Gott painting, performance
  34. Grace Gray-Adams sculpture, installation
  35. Alex Grey visionary painting
  36. Ann Hamilton fiber, video, sculpture, installation (Art: 21)
  37. Tim Hawkinson sculpture, installation (Art: 21)
  38. Joanne Hayakawa San Diego, ceramics
  39. Eva Hesse installation, sculpture
  40. Damien Hirst sculpture, installation
  41. Jenny Holzer video, installations (Art: 21)
  42. Rizzhel Javier San Diego, photography, sculpture
  43. Anish Kapoor public art, sculpture (Art: 21)
  44. Richard Keely San Diego, installation, sculpture
  45. Mollie Kellogg San Diego, figure, painting
  46. Martin Kline painting, sculpture
  47. Barbara Kruger 2-D works, feminist (Art: 21)
  48. Yayoi Kusama public art, installation
  49. Maya Lin public art, installation, sculpture (Art: 21)
  50. Sally Mann photography (Art: 21)
  51. May-ling Martinez San Diego, sculpture, installation
  52. Wendy Maruyama San Diego, furniture
  53. Joanne Mattera encaustic, painting
  54. Jeremy Mayer figure, metal, assemblage
  55. Lincoln Maynard painting
  56. Cheryl McClure painting
  57. Ana Mendieta performance, land art, feminist
  58. Marilyn Mitchell San Diego, painting, paper works
  59. Laura Moriarty encaustic, painting, sculpture
  60. Anne Mudge San Diego, fiber, sculpture, installation
  61. Isamu Noguchi sculpture, public art
  62. Haley Nagy encaustic, book making, paper works
  63. David Nash public art, sculpture
  64. Alexandra Newmark fiber, sculpture, installation
  65. Anna O'Cain San Diego, installation
  66. Michele Oka Doner figure, sculpture
  67. Claes Oldenburg sculpture, public art
  68. Yoko Ono performance
  69. Kathy Ostman-Magnusen San Diego, figure, painting
  70. Marcus Papay San Diego, furniture
  71. Judy Pfaff installation (Art: 21)
  72. Lisa Pressman encaustic, painting
  73. Ken Price ceramics
  74. Lissa Rankin encaustic, painting, sculpture
  75. Helen Redman San Diego, painting
  76. Nancy Reyner painting
  77. Renee Richetts San Diego, paper works
  78. Gail Roberts San Diego, painting
  79. Deanne Sabeck light sculpture, installation, public art
  80. Melissa Stager San Diego, sculpture, installation
  81. Kelly Schnorr San Diego, ceramics
  82. Richard Serra installation, public art, sculpture (Art: 21)
  83. Nancy Spero feminist, painting (Art: 21)
  84. Rebecca L. Shapiro encaustic, painting
  85. Cindy Sherman photography, video, feminist (Art: 21)
  86. Ernest Silva painting
  87. Lisa Sisley-Blinn encaustic, painting
  88. Kiki Smith figure, sculpture, installation (Art: 21)
  89. Nan Smith figure, ceramics, installation
  90. Anna Stoa San Diego, painting, encaustic
  91. Anna Stump San Diego,painting, installation
  92. Ursula von Rydingsvard sculpture (Art: 21)
  93. Kara Walker installation (Art: 21)
  94. Vicki Walsh San Diego, painting
  95. Rachel Whiteread sculpture, installation
  96. Faith Wilding feminist, fiber, installation
  97. Anne Wilson fiber, installation
  98. Linda Womack encaustic, painting
  99. Daniella Woolf fiber, encaustic, sculpture, installation
  100. Andrea Zittel fiber, installation (Art: 21)
Your turn:
What do you think of this list? Anyone that I forgot that I should be added? What about you? Should you be on this list? I am thinking about doing more lists, so I would love your input.

Here's to 100 more posts! Happy Art making! ~ Jaime Lyerly


  1. Wow! What a wonderful list of artists!

    Congratulations on your first 100 blog posts!

  2. Great list of artists. Thanks for sharing. It will be fun to explore their art.

  3. Great list! I know many of these artists and the ones I don't, I intend to go look up soon!
    This is very similar to my visual alphabet posts - -where I try to capture 26 of my favorite artists. And yes, my list is completely biased too. :P

  4. Thanks so much for including me. I am having a One Woman Show, opens this Friday Nov 6 at A Woman's Eye Gallery, 678 Portola SF 4-7pm.

  5. Shannon,

    I love your visual alphabet lists! I wanted to include photos of each artist for this list, but I thought it would get too long. I think next time I will make a shorter list and add images. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. Thank you so much for the list! Holy Crap I'm going to be so busy looking them all up...! It's so hard to search for new artists online without any direction, you just don't know what you're going to find. But I guess that's what makes it fun...

  7. I'm looking forward to delving further into this list! I really enjoy your writing style & your passion for supporting the arts and, in particular, artists. Congrats on the now over 100 posts! :)

  8. I printed out this list so I can spend the winter months looking at a few of these artists at a time. It is wonderful to know so many already. Thanks and congratulations on being so blog loyal!

  9. love your informative blog and this artist list is fun!

  10. Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!

  11. The blog you have posted has been very useful to me. It has provided me with all essential details about the contemporary art that are available of late.

    Famous Contemporary Artists


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