Top 25 Contemporary art artists who changed its history

A broad term, “contemporary art,” refers to the artwork created in the present and includes a variety of themes, techniques, and styles. Modern artists are diverse, hail from all over the world, and each has an own viewpoint and method of creation.

The willingness to experiment and explore novel concepts and forms is one of the distinguishing qualities of modern art. Modern artists frequently challenge conventional ideas of beauty, meaning, and value and push the boundaries of what is regarded as art.

Ai Weiwei, Banksy, and Yayoi Kusama are a few of the best-known practitioners of modern art. These artists operate in a variety of media, such as performance art, installation, painting, and sculpture, and they frequently highlight current social, political, and cultural themes in their pieces.

1. Anthony Abdel Karim

Born: 19 July 1998 (age 24 years), Beirut,

Periods: Contemporary art, Classicism, Surrealism, Realism, Modern
art, Color field, Naturalism

Organizations founded: Lebanese Club of Visual
Artists, Empreintes de Couleurs

Parents: Elie Abdel Karim, Linda Serianni

  • Anthony Abdel Karim is a Lebanese artist who was born in Beirut on 19 July 1998.
  • He is chairman and founder of the Lebanese Club of Visual Artists and the author of the novel ” What have we done with art ?”.
  • He’s primarily in the style of traditional and realistic style employing his own methods to create landscapes that have a savage nature.
  • His style is realist with just a hint of Surrealism.


2. Takashi Murakami

Contemporary art artists

Born: 1 February 1962 (age 60 years), Itabashi City, Tokyo, Japan

Education: Tokyo University of the Arts (1993), Tokyo University of the Arts (1988), Tokyo University of the Arts (1986)

Periods: Contemporary art, Pop art, Superflat

Siblings: Yuji Murakami

Nationality: Japanese

  • Takashi Murakami is a contemporary Japanese artist from Japan.
  • He was the creator and coordinator of Geisai’s biannual fair on art. Geisai.
  • Murakami was born in Japan and was raised in Tokyo, Japan.
  • He graduated with a master’s degree in the year 1988.
  • The year 1994 was the time that Murakami got a scholarship through The Asian Cultural Council and participated in the PS1 International Studio Program in New York City for a year.


3. Yayoi Kusama

Contemporary art artists

Born: 22 March 1929 (age 93 years), Matsumoto, Nagano, Japan

Nationality: Japanese

Periods: Contemporary art, Pop art, Minimalism, Environmental art, Feminist art

Parents: Shigeru Kusama, Kamon Okamura

  • Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese contemporary artist who mostly works in installation and sculpture.
  • Her work is based on conceptual art and demonstrates characteristics of minimalism, feminism, and Surrealism.
  • Kusama was born in Matsumoto and was educated by his school at the Kyoto City University of Arts using the traditional Japanese painting style known as Nihonga.
  • She relocated to New York City in 1958 and was a participant in the New York avant-garde scene throughout the 1960s.
  • Kusama has been vocal about her personal health. She has said that her art is now her outlet for expressing her issues with mental health.


4. Jean-Michel Basquiat

Contemporary art artists

Born: 22 December 1960, Brooklyn, New York, United States

Died: 12 August 1988, Great Jones Street, New York, United States

Influenced by: Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Cy Twombly, Robert Rauschenberg, Jean Dubuffet

Periods: Contemporary art, Neo-expressionism, Primitivism

  • Jean Michel Basquiat was an American artist who achieved fame in the 1980s as part of the Neo-expressionist movement.
  • Basquiat’s work centered on contrasts like poverty versus wealth, integration versus segregation, and the inner experience versus the external.
  • He employed social commentary in his artwork as a way to reflect and connect with his experiences within his Black community.
  • Since the artist’s death at the age of 27 due to an overdose of heroin in 1988, his work has gradually increased in importance.
  • Basquiat was born on the 22nd of December 1960 at Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York City.


5. Jeff Koons

Contemporary art artists

Born: 21 January 1955 (age 67 years), York, Pennsylvania, United States

Children: Ludwig Maximillian Koons, Sean Kyah Koons, Shannon Rodgers, Kurt Koons, Eric Koons, Scarlet Koons, Blake Koons

Spouse: Ilona Staller (m. 1991–1994), Justine Wheeler Koons

  • Jeffrey Lynn Koons is an American artist who is well-known for his work involving popular culture, as well as his sculptures of everyday objects.
  • He works and lives in the city of New York City and his hometown of York, Pennsylvania.
  • There is a wide range of opinions among critics regarding their opinions of Koons. Some consider his work groundbreaking and of significant historical significance to art.
  • Koons was born in York, Pennsylvania, to Henry and Gloria Koons.
  • In the year 1980, he obtained authorization for the sale of mutual funds as well as stocks. He began his career as a Wall Street commodities broker at First Investors Corporation.


6. Keith Haring

Contemporary art artists

Born: 4 May 1958, Reading, Pennsylvania, United States

Died: 16 February 1990, New York, New York, United States

Periods: Pop art, Contemporary art

Full name: Keith Allen Haring

  • Keith Allen Haring was an American artist popular artist who emerged from a New York City graffiti subculture in the 1980s.
  • The majority of his work is sexual allusions which later became social activism, using the images to call for safe sexual activity and AIDS awareness.
  • The Whitney Museum held a retrospective of his work in 1997.
  • He created over 50 of his public art pieces in the period 1982-89. Many of them were created in a voluntary manner for daycare centers, hospitals, centers, and schools.
  • He established his own Pop Shop as an extension of his work.


7. Damien Hirst

Contemporary art artists

Born: 7 June 1965 (age 57 years), Bristol, United Kingdom

Children: Connor Hirst, Cassius Atticus Hirst, Cyrus Joe Hirst

Periods: Contemporary art, Young British Artists

  • Damien Steven Hirst is an English artist, entrepreneur, and art dealer.
  • He was one of his fellow Young British Artists (YBAs) who took over the art scene in the UK in the 1990s.
  • Death is the central theme in Hirst’s work.
  • On September 8, 2008, Hirst did something unprecedented as a live artist selling his entire show.
  • Since 1999, the works of Hirst have been questioned and challenged as plagiarized 16 times.


8. Gerhard Richter

Contemporary art artists

Born: 9 February 1932 (age 90 years), Dresden, Germany

Spouse: Sabine Moritz-Richter (m. 1995), Isa Genzken (m. 1982–1993)

Children: Betty Richter, Ella Maria Richter

Parents: Ernst Alfred Schönfelder, Hildegard Schönfelder

Awards: Wolf Prize in Arts – Painting

  • Gerhard Richter is a visual artist from Germany.
  • Richter has created abstract and realistic paintings, photographs, and glass works.
  • The artist is widely recognized as one of the most significant modern German artists.
  • Richter was born in Hospital Dresden-Neustadt in Dresden, Saxony.
  • Ernst moved his family members to Dresden after he took over the family’s brewing business. He eventually became into bankruptcy.


9. Fernando Botero

Contemporary art artists

Born: 19 April 1932 (age 90 years), Medellín, Colombia

Periods: Contemporary art, Modern art

Children: Fernando Botero Zea, Pedro Botero Zambrano, Lina Botero, Juan Carlos Botero

  • Fernando Botero Angulo is a Colombian sculptor and figure artist who was born in Medellin.
  • He is believed to be the most admired and well-known live artist in Latin America.
  • He began to create sculptures shortly after his move from Paris in 1973. He achieved international recognition through his exhibitions throughout the world in the 1990s.
  • The father of Fernando was David Botero, a salesman who traveled on horseback and passed away from heart attacks at the age of four. Fernando was just four years old.
  • His mother was a seamstress. An uncle played a key part in his life.


10. Neo Rauch

Contemporary art artists

Born: 18 April 1960 (age 62 years), Leipzig, Germany

Spouse: Rosa Loy

Parents: Hanno Rauch, Helga Wand

On view: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Education: Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst Leipzig, Leipzig University

Movement: New Leipzig School

  • Neo Rauch Neo Rauch is a German artist whose work explores the interplay of his personal life and the politics of industrial apathy.
  • His work is a reflection of the influence of social realists.
  • Rauch’s parents passed away in a train crash at 4.
  • He was Professor from August 2005 to February 2009.
  • Neo Rauch grew up with his grandparents in Aschersleben and was able to pass the Abitur test.


11. H.R. Giger

Contemporary art artists

Born: 5 February 1940, Chur, Switzerland

Died: 12 May 2014, Zürich, Switzerland

Place of burial: Cimetiere de Gruyeres, Gruyères

Influenced by: H. P. Lovecraft, Salvador Dalí, Alfred Kubin

  • Hans Ruedi Giger was a Swiss artist most famous for his airbrushed paintings.
  • Giger has since resigned from airbrush to use markers, pastels, and ink.
  • His work is permanently displayed in the H.R. Giger Museum in Gruyeres, Switzerland.
  • His music style has been adapting to various forms of media, such as furniture, album covers, and tattoos.
  • His father, who was a pharmacist, believed that art was a “breadless profession” and strongly insisted on his son’s entry into the pharmacy.


12. Alex Grey

Contemporary art artists

Born: 29 November 1953 (age 68 years), Columbus, Ohio, United States

Full name: Alex Velzy

Spouse: Allyson Grey (m. 1977)

Children: Zena Grey

  • Alex Grey is an American artist, writer, instructor, and Vajrayana practitioner who is known for his paintings that are psychedelic and spiritual.
  • He has a wide range of work, such as process art, performance art and installation.
  • The couple and their wife, Allyson Grey, are founders and co-directors of The Chapel of Sacred Mirrors (CoSM).
  • His father was an artist and graphic designer.
  • Grey continued studying art at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts in Boston in 1975.


13. Lygia Clark

Contemporary art artists

Born: 23 October 1920, Belo Horizonte, State of Minas Gerais, Brazil

Died: 25 April 1988, Rio de Janeiro, State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Periods: Contemporary art, Neo-Concrete Movement

  • Lygia Pimentel Lins was a Brazilian artist best known for her installation and painting work.
  • From 1960, Clark discovered ways for viewers to engage with her artwork.
  • Clark’s work focused on the connection between inside and out and, in the end, between self and the outside world.
  • Clark was born around 1920 and was raised in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
  • The year 1947 was the time she took classes in drawing alongside Brazilian designer Roberto Burle Marx and became an artist.


14. Yoko Ono

Contemporary art artists

Born: 18 February 1933 (age 89 years), Tokyo, Japan

Spouse: John Lennon (m. 1969–1980), MORE

Children: Sean Lennon, Kyoko Chan Cox

Cousin: Hideaki Kase

Siblings: Keisuke Ono, Setsuko Ono

  • Yoko Ono is a Japanese multimedia musician, artist, singer, and peace advocate.
  • She joined the downtown New York artists scene in the 1960s.
  • She and Lennon continued to be married until the time he was murdered in front of the couple’s home called the Dakota on the 8th of December 1980.
  • Together, they had one son, Sean, who was later a musician.
  • She received critical and commercial recognition in 1980 with her record-breaking Album, Double Fantasy.
  • As Lennon’s widow Ono strives to preserve the legacy of his father.


15. Jack Vettriano

Contemporary art artists

Born: 17 November 1951 (age 70 years), Methil, United Kingdom

Spouse: Gail Cormack (m. 1980–1988)

Period: Contemporary art

Movies: Billy Connolly: Portrait of a Lifetime

Education: Self-taught

  • Jack Vettriano is a Scottish painter from Scotland.
  • Jack Vettriano was born in St. Andrews in Fife and was raised in the seaside town of industrial origin of Methil, approximately 30 minutes to the south of his hometown of birth.
  • He was raised in poverty. The family consisted of his father, mother, and brother in a miner’s residence.
  • Vettriano quit school at the age of 16 and then became an engineering apprentice.
  • In 1988 Vettriano presented two paintings to his participation in the Royal Scottish Academy annual show.


16. Kara Walker

Contemporary art artists

Born: 26 November 1969 (age 52 years), Stockton, California, United States

Spouse: Klaus Bürgel (m. 1996–2010)

Parents: Gwendolyn Walker

Nationality: American

Siblings: Dana Walker

  • Kara Elizabeth Walker is an American contemporary artist, printmaker, painter, filmmaker, installation artist, and professor.
  • Her most famous work is her large tableaux made of cuts of black paper silhouettes.
  • She has held the Tepper Chair for Art and Design Arts for The Mason Gross School of the Arts.
  • Walker is considered to be among the most well-known and respected Black American artists working today.
  • Walker is a native of 1969 in Stockton, California.


17. Mark Bradford

Contemporary art artists

Born: 20 November 1961 (age 60 years), Los Angeles, California, United States

Partner: Allan DiCastro

Education: California Institute of the Arts

Nationality: American

Awards: MacArthur Fellowship

  • Mark Bradford is an American visual artist from the United States.
  • He is a resident and worker in Los Angeles.
  • Bradford was born in Los Angeles and was raised in South Los Angeles.
  • Bradford relocated with family members to a predominantly white area within Santa Monica when he was 11.
  • Bradford was a student at Santa Monica College and then transferred to the California Institute of the Arts, where he graduated in the year 1991.
  • Bradford is a well-known artist for his abstract grids that combine collage and paint.


18. Cildo Meireles

Contemporary art artists

Born: 9 February 1948 (age 74 years), Rio de Janeiro, State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Education: School of Fine Arts – UFRJ

Nationality: Brazilian

  • Cildo Meireles is a Brazilian conceptual artist, sculptor and installation artist.
  • He is renowned for his art installations that often are a protest against discrimination in Brazil.
  • Meireles was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1948.
  • Since the age of a child, Meireles has shown a keen fascination with drawing and spatial connections.

He was particularly interested in how this concept has been used in animation films.


19. Marina Abramović

Contemporary art artists

Born: 30 November 1946 (age 75 years), Belgrade, Serbia

Parents: Danica Abramović, Vojo Abramović

Periods: Contemporary art, Conceptual art

Nationality: Serbian

Awards: Princess of Asturias Award for the Arts

  • Marina Abramovic is a Serbian performance and conceptual artist.
  • She pioneered a fresh concept of identity through the presence of observers focused on the issue of “confronting pain, blood, and physical limits of the body.”
  • Abramovic was born in Belgrade, Serbia, then part of Yugoslavia, on the 30th of November 1946.
  • His great uncle is Varnava, Serbian Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
  • Her parents had raised Abramovic until she was just six years old.


20. Louise Bourgeois

Contemporary art artists

Born: 25 December 1911, Paris, France

Died: 31 May 2010, New York, New York, United States

Periods: Contemporary art, Modern art, Surrealism, Feminist art, Modernism

Spouse: Robert Goldwater (m. 1937–1973)

Children: Jean-Louis Bourgeois, Alain Goldwater, Michel Goldwater

  • Louise Bourgeois was an American artist of French descent.
  • Her most well-known work is her monumental sculptures and installations art. The Bourgeois was also an accomplished painter and printmaker.
  • She explored a range of subjects during her extensive career, including domesticity, family sexuality, the body, and sexuality.
  • These themes are linked to experiences in her childhood that she believed as a process of healing.
  • Bourgeois was born on December 25, 1911. He was born in Paris, France.


21. Zdzisław Beksiński

Contemporary art artists

Born: 24 February 1929, Sanok, Poland

Died: 21 February 2005, Warsaw, Poland

Movies: The Beksińskis. A Sound and Picture Album, Dziennik zapowiedzianej smierci, From Within

Children: Tomasz Beksiński

Spouse: Zofia Helena Stankiewicz (m. 1951–1998)

  • Zdzislaw Beksinski was a Polish photographer, painter, and sculptor.
  • Beksinski painted drawings in what he described as either a Baroque or Gothic style.
  • Beksinski was fatally wounded in his Warsaw apartment in February of 2005.
  • Zdzislaw Beksinski was born Sanok in southern Poland.
  • Beksinski did not have formal training for his work as an artist.


22. Brian Eno

Contemporary art artists

Born: 15 May 1948 (age 74 years), Melton, United Kingdom

Spouse: Anthea Norman-Taylor (m. 1988)

Children: Irial Eno, Hannah Eno, Darla Eno

Full name: Brian Peter George Eno

Genres: Alternative/Indie, Dance/Electronic

  • Brian Eno is a British musician and composer. He is also a record producer and visual artist.
  • He is identified as one of the most popular music’s most influential and creative names.
  • As well as his solo career, Eno collaborated frequently with other musicians during the 1970s.
  • He also established himself as a sought-after producer, producing albums for John Cale and Jon Hassell.
  • From his time as a student, Eno has also been involved in various other media, such as film, sound installations, and writing.


23. Don Gummer

Contemporary art artists

Born: 12 December 1946 (age 75 years), Louisville, Kentucky, United States

Children: Louisa Jacobson, Henry Wolfe, Grace Gummer, Mamie Gummer

Spouse: Meryl Streep (m. 1978)

  • Don Gummer is an American artist and sculptor from America.
  • His first work was focused on wall-mounted and table-top-based sculptures.
  • In the late 1980s, He shifted his attention to large-scale free-standing pieces usually made of bronze.
  • He was educated at Ben Davis High School, Indianapolis, before attending his school, the Herron School of Art.
  • Gummer’s debut solo show took place in 1973.


24. Anish Kapoor

Contemporary art artists

Born: 12 March 1954 (age 68 years), Mumbai

Spouse: Susanna Kapoor (m. 1995–2013)

Children: Ishan Kapoor, Alba Kapoor

Awards: Turner Prize, Padma Bhushan

Education: The Doon School, Hornsey College of Art, Chelsea College of Art & Design

  • Anish Kapoor is an Indian-British sculptor who specializes in conceptual and installation art. He was birthed in Mumbai.
  • His most famous public sculptures are Cloud Gate (2006, Also known by the name of “The Bean”).
  • A picture of Kapoor is featured on the British cultural icons section of the recently created British passport for 2015.
  • In 2016 the year 2016, he was named the recipient of his LennonOno Grant for Peace.
  • Anish Kapoor was born in Mumbai, India, to an Iraqi Jewish mother and an Indian Punjabi Hindu father.


25. Lucian Freud

Contemporary art artists

Born: 8 December 1922, Berlin, Germany

Died: 20 July 2011, London, United Kingdom

Children: Bella Freud, Susie Boyt, Frank Paul, Annie Freud, MORE

Grandchildren: Albie Morrissey, Gene Morrissey, Anna Morrissey, James Lux Fox

  • Lucian Freud was a British artist and draughtsman.
  • Freud was born in Berlin as the son of the Jewish engineer Ernst L. Freud and the great-grandson of Sigmund Freud.
  • His first career as an artist had been influenced by Surrealism but in the 1950s, his often stark and abstract paintings were influenced by realist art.
  • Freud studied life sciences and was known for demanding lengthy and grueling sessions from his models.
  • Freud briefly attended his school, the Central School of Art, in London.

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