Emmanuelle Walker

100 art-world Instagram accounts to follow right now — Artists

Here’s our selection of the 100 accounts you need to know about, in five handy instalments. First up, the artists

The Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang, best known for his use of fireworks and gunpowder, has managed to circumvent China’s social media censorship via his studio in New York. He provides daily updates on his continuing fascination with explosions in art, as well as logging the occasional gallery visit and fishing trip.  

The anonymous Bristol-born street artist Banksy — creator of a grotesque, short-lived theme park, proprietor of a controversial hotel and star of global auction rooms — has an Instagram account with more than 10 million followers that is as unpredictable as his art. New projects appear unannounced, each laden with socio-political food for thought.

A rising star of the contemporary art world, Daniel Arsham uses his account to chart his search for inspiration, as well as to post images of his faintly sinister ‘eroding’ sculptures of everyday objects. He also has an enviable sneaker collection. 

In February 2021, Swiss artist Simon Berger made headlines when he unveiled Glass Ceiling Breaker, a six-and-a-half-foot-high shattered-glass portrait of US Vice President Kamala Harris which celebrates her pioneering achievements. His feed is full of photographs and videos of other works he has produced in this dazzling medium. 

Like a digital catalogue raisonné, Jenny Saville’s account is dedicated to the large-scale paintings of female nudes she has spent the past three decades making. She also occasionally uploads a photograph of the studio where she works on her huge canvases.

The queen of conceptual portrait photography Cindy Sherman uploads examples of her work (sometimes experimenting with the app’s built-in filters), alongside images of her visits to exhibitions and walks on the beach. 

Julie Curtiss offers a window into the life of a globetrotting millennial painter, sharing her jam-packed roster of exhibitions and the latest works she is hoping to show post-pandemic. She also highlights her current interests outside art — including snowmen and quilts — and posts regularly about visiting other artists to watch them at work. 

Jeff Koons’s account reveals a refreshingly human side to one of the world’s most successful living artists. Between images of his favourite works — each supplemented with a short explanation — the family snaps remind us that he is also a devoted husband and father.

American conceptual artist Jenny Holzer uses Instagram to share her hypnotic, text-based protest pieces. Most recently, they have taken the form of red, white and blue LED signs and public projections that address social and political injustices. 

Takashi Murakami was the inventor of the term ‘superflat’, which is used to describe post-1990s Japanese Pop art. His Instagram feed is a show reel of his cartoon-like works, latest brand collaborations and selfies with celebrity friends — including two of his biggest fans, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. 

The British artist Damien Hirst has recently taken to uploading short videos to his account. In some he offers up the stories behind his most famous works, while in others he answers questions submitted in the comments on a variety of topics, ranging from his snooker skills to whether he prefers Picasso or Bacon

The New York-based painter, sculptor and shadow-puppet maker Kara Walker uses her account to present what lies behind her work, which addresses race, gender, violence and sexuality. Recent posts document how her commission for Tate’s Turbine Hall came together — and how it featured in a music video by the singer FKA Twigs

From art fairs to auction rooms, the Ghanaian painter Amoako Boafo has garnered a lot of attention lately. His portraits, which have been compared to the work of Egon Schiele, have been known to sell for more than 20 times their estimate. His Instagram account has updates on his latest works and his recent collaboration with Dior.

Between images of his neo-Cubist paintings of figures with bulging eyes and under-bites, the American painter George Condo also shares pictures of his ginger cat, his collection of jazz records and the changing seasons. 

Have you ever wondered what the painter Peter Doig, whose works have sold for record-breaking sums, does in his free time? According to his Instagram feed, he listens to calypso records, strolls around Tokyo and goes canoeing in Trinidad. He also uses his account to share some of his destroyed works, as well as to track down others that have gone missing. 

The Instagram account of American visual artist Brian Donnelly, or KAWS as he is better known, flicks between pictures of his latest mutant-toy artworks and snaps of his family and friends.

The New York photographer Lorna Simpson came to prominence in the 1980s with pictures that juxtaposed text with staged images. Her Instagram account shares her latest work, including the Essence  magazine cover featuring Rihanna that recently went viral.

Rashid Johnson is at the forefront of a new generation of African American abstract painters making waves. He uses social media to promote his work, exhibitions, media interviews and fellow artists. He also celebrates his heroes, including the late basketball legend Kobe Bryant and rapper MF Doom — as well as his mother. 

Having been imprisoned in his native China in 2011, and barred from leaving the country until 2015, Ai Weiwei seems keen to make up for lost time: he is one of the most prolific Instagram users on this list. His account is a digital diary of his travels as he opens exhibition after exhibition around the world.

As the American video and performance artist Doug Aitken gears up for his late-2021 show at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, he uses Instagram to share the works he has been making during the global lockdown. Two themes prevail: debris and dance.

View part 2 of the 100 art-world Instagram accounts to follow right now: Curators, Directors and Gallerists