You may consider yourself to be quite arty because you know the works of Mone, Picasso, and Pollock, but can you name at least half of the 15 most famous artists and painters who are alive today?
Famous living artists today are somewhat of an enigma. The majority of the population can name only a few, while on the other hand everybody has heard of Leonardo da Vinci or Van Gogh and some of 10 most famous cubist paintings are probably familiar. After all, you know someone is extremely popular and recognizable if not for the artistic value, then for the memes made out of their paintings (how they would feel about it is a different issue). The truth is, the reality is harsh. In order to be recognized fully, an artist usually has to die first – just check out our piece on 10 Most Successful Musical Artists of All Time. History is full of painters and sculptors who were hardly making their ends meet because their works were far ahead of their time, so they ended their lives in misery only to be glorified afterward. Fortunately, the situation couldn’t be more different for famous artists today and their work.
However, with so many successful and outstanding artists and painters, we were faced with a few challenges. To find out what are the most prominent names in the art world, we did something which is in complete opposition to the art world and its noble qualities. We looked up the wealthiest artists today at Complex. It is an undeniable fact that being famous today isn’t just about the quality of what you do, but also about your financial status and presence in the pop culture. But we’ll go back to it later. Speaking of money matters, if you find that intriguing, read more about it in our article on 6 richest painters in the world. Ranking the artists only according to their finances doesn’t fully equal with fame and popularity, so we roamed through Brainscape, Artsy , The Culture Trip and 1stdibs to check reviews of their work, and also paid visits to the Vanity Fair and Newsweek art sections to see who they picked as most famous. The information we collected is most recent, and at Artsy we actually used two articles for our references (most influential artists in 2014 and 2016). Finally, we ended up with an extensive list of famous modern artists names and were faced with the final challenge – how to rank them according to their popularity? It is a rather inconvenient task, and once more we must stress they are ranked according to their fame or popularity, not according to the quality of their works.
Therefore, to create a list of most famous artists and painters who are alive today, we now go back to what we had already mentioned – their presence in the pop culture. Mind you that does not mean they are strictly involved in creating pop art. It only means that their appearance in the media is more frequent than with the others. Consequently, if they were or are involved in some projects that are globally familiar or they have become a household name, it ranked them at the very top of our list. The other criterion was how often their name appeared in the articles we have checked. If the number of appearances was the same, the higher position went to the person whose name appeared more often in the media in recent years.
Hopefully, famous contemporary painters and artists won’t mind too much what their position is on our list of most famous artists and painters who are alive today, though one can never be sure. Every artist’s biography sounds like a story, so we also included some details that will help you to get the best picture.