10 contemporary artists to invest in right now
A selection of artists whose reputations and markets are on the rise — featuring works offered in Christie’s 20th/21st sales
Who? In 2010 the Colorado-born Jordan Casteel (b. 1989) typed ‘Best MFA programme’ into Google. Four years later she graduated from Yale School of Art and exhibited her works in a critically-acclaimed solo show at Sargent’s Daughters gallery in New York. Her rich, sensitive portraits are inspired by artists ranging from Jacob Lawrence to Kerry James Marshall and Alice Neel. ‘My intent is to highlight the magic of our existence as black bodies, and the physical spaces we occupy,’ she explains.
In March 2019, Casteel was the breakout star of Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction. Lot 1, Patrick and Omari, her double-portrait from 2015, was fought over by nine bidders before selling for £299,250 against an estimate of £40,000-60,000. It was only the second work by the artist, who had just turned 30, to appear at Christie’s.
Recent exhibitions: The Baayfalls, The High Line, New York, 2019; Jordan Casteel: Returning the Gaze, Denver Art Museum, Colorado, 2019; Within Reach, The New Museum, New York, 2020-21.
If you like this artist you might also enjoy: Nicolas Party, Dana Schutz, Loie Hollowell
Who? The Brazilian painter Lucas Arruda (b. 1983) creates imaginary, semi-abstract landscapes and seascapes that conjure Romantic notions of the ‘sublime’. He mounted solo shows of his intimately scaled pictures at David Zwirner gallery in London in 2017, and in New York in 2019.
Aged 37, Arruda now has works in the collections of the Fondation Beyler in Switzerland, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, the Rubell Family Collection in Miami and Brazil’s Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo. The sale of Untitled (2011) on 13 February will mark the first time his work has appeared in a Christie’s auction.
Recent exhibitions: Lucas Arruda: Deserto — Modelo, Cahiers d’Art, Paris, 2018; Deserto-Modelo “as above, so below”, Herald St, London, 2015; Lucas Arruda “Deserto-Modelo”, Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo, 2014.
If you like this artist you might also enjoy: Lorna Simpson, Gerhard Richter, Enrique Martinez Celaya
Who? After a string of odd jobs (including 10 years spent working as a psychiatric nurse at a state hospital), Henry Taylor (b. 1958) graduated in 1995 with a BFA from the California Institute of the Arts. In 2007 he held his first solo museum show at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Inspired by his surroundings in downtown Los Angeles, he paints vibrant portraits of strangers and acquaintances, stirring up references from Manet and Matisse to Beckmann and Basquiat.
In 2017, just weeks before Taylor’s portrait of the rapper Jay-Z appeared on the front cover of The New York Times style magazine T, his auction record was broken at Christie’s, with Untitled (Symbol) selling for £230,750 against an estimate of £30,000-50,000. A year later, I’ll Put a Spell on You shattered that record, realising $975,000.
Recent exhibitions: Henry Taylor disappeared, but a tiger showed up, later, Hauser & Wirth, Southampton, 2021; NIECE COUSIN KIN LOOK HOW LONG IT’S BEEN, Blum & Poe, New York, 2019;
If you like this artist you might also enjoy: Kerry James Marshall, Elizabeth Peyton, Adrian Ghenie
Who? For more than a decade, savvy collectors have been drawn to the monumental white, grey and brown sculptures made by British artist Thomas Houseago (b. 1972) in his large studio complex in Los Angeles. Using a variety of traditional and non-traditional materials — from clay and bronze to concrete and hemp — he infuses his totemic human forms with a poignant sense of vulnerability.
Houseago’s institutional reputation has recently caught up with his market, with solo shows at the Royal Academy in London and the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 2019 alone.
Recent exhibitions: Houseago | Rodin, Gagosian, London, 2021; Thomas Houseago: Summer Exhibition 2019, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2019; Thomas Houseago. Almost Human, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris 2019.
If you like this artist you might also enjoy: Tatiane Trouvé, Urs Fischer, Sterling Ruby
Who? In September 2019, art-world insiders speculated that prices for Loie Hollowell (b. 1983), which had gone from just a few thousand dollars to more than $100,000 per picture in just three years, could soon pass the million mark. A month later, the artist made her debut in a Christie’s evening sale with one of her psychedelic paintings of curvaceous forms selling for £359,250.
Described as a modern-day Georgia O’Keeffe, Hollowell evokes sensual experience through abstract geometries, delighting in the erotic overtones of her undulating forms.
Recent exhibitions: One opening leads to another, GRIMM, Amsterdam, 2019-20; Loie Hollowell: Dominant / Recessive, Pace, London, 2018; The Beyond: Georgia O’Keeffe and Contemporary Artists, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, USA, 2018.
If you like this artist you might also enjoy: Huguette Caland, Kenny Scharf, Howard Hodgkin
Who? Iranian artist Tala Madani (b. 1981) creates enigmatic narrative scenes that seek to deconstruct male stereotypes. She graduated with an MFA from Yale School of Art in 2006; 12 years later, her auction record was set at Christie’s in Amsterdam when The House sold for €60,000.
This price was no doubt enhanced by two solo shows at Pilar Corrias gallery in London, as well as her work being shown at the 2017 National Gallery of Victoria Triennial in Melbourne and the Whitney Biennial the same year. With her reputation rising, the group of four paintings offered in London could prove a wise investment.
Recent exhibitions: It Was as if the Shadows were Lit Up, Longlati Foundation, Shanghai, 2021-22; Radical Figures: Painting in the New Millenium, Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2020
If you like this artist you might also enjoy: Imi Knoebel, Philip Guston, Willem de Kooning
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Who? Having been drawn to her ghoulish pictures (which look like Old Masters left to melt in the sun) on Twitter, it was Richard Prince who ushered the Irish painter Genieve Figgis (b. 1972) into the upper echelons of the New York art world. The following year, in 2015, Figgis signed to Almine Rech Gallery, which has outposts in London, Paris, Brussels, New York and Shanghai.
In 2019, her auction record moved to $303,663. A macabre quality underpins Figgis’ paintings, which combine idealised bourgeois subjects with dark, surreal humour.
Recent exhibitions: Immortal Reflection, Almine Rech Gallery, New York, 2021; Genieve Figgis: Romeo and Juliet, Met Opera, New York, 2016-17
If you like this artist you might also enjoy: Tschabalala Self, Kehinde Wiley, Jonas Wood
Who? Vogue has described the paintings of American neo-Fauvist Shara Hughes (b.1972) as ‘ugly gorgeous’, and they already feature in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian and the Denver Art Museum, among others. Inviting comparison with the works of David Hockney, her colourful, imaginary landscapes are simultaneously familiar and disarming, straddling the boundary between abstraction and representation.
Georgia, a large garden scene, sold for $337,500 at Christie’s in 2019 against an estimate of $60,000-80,000.
Recent exhibitions: Shara Hughes: The Bridge, Yuz Museum, Shanghai, 2021-22; Shara Hughes: On Edge, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Missouri, 2021-22; Shara Hughes, Aspen Art Museum, Colorado, 2021.
If you like this artist you might also enjoy: Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Sarah Morris, Frederick Hammersley
Who? Born in Ethiopia and now based between New York and Berlin, Julie Mehretu (b. 1970) creates virtuosic linear rhapsodies that aim to reflect the dynamics of globalisation. Her large, abstract canvases command some of the highest prices on this list — in 2010, Untitled 1 sold at auction for $1.02 million. Four years later, that record was obliterated when White Cube, the artist’s representative gallery, sold Mumbo Jumbo for $5 million from its booth at Art Basel.
In 2019, Black Ground (Deep Light) fetched $5.6 million at auction. For those with more modest budgets, however, Mehretu’s smaller works are still relatively affordable, and could prove to be a wise investment.
Recent exhibitions: about the space of half an hour, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, 2020; SEXTANT, White Cube, London, 2018.
If you like this artist you might also enjoy: Kara Walker, Mark Bradford, Cecily Brown
Who? In 2018 the Belgian artist Harold Ancart (b.1980) mounted his first UK solo show with David Zwirner gallery in London. According to one review, a number of big-name collectors came to eye up his bold, abstract canvases, no doubt aware that his auction record had been set at Christie’s two years earlier when Triptych: Untitled sold for $751,500 against an estimate of $80,000-120,000.
Frequently compared to the Abstract Expressionist Clyfford Still, Ancart recently completed a monumental site-specific painting for the front window of the Centre Pompidou-Metz, shown as part of the group exhibition Painting the Night (2018-19).
Recent exhibitions: Harold Ancart Presents New Sculptural Works in Jaipur, The Sculpture Park at Madhavendra Palace, Jaipur, 2020; Subliminal Standard, Cadman Plaza Park, Brooklyn, New York, 2019-20; Painting the Night, Centre Pompidou-Metz, Lorraine, France, 2018-19.
If you like this artist you might also enjoy: Henry Taylor, George Condo, Ugo Rondinone