Georgina Braham

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

Want to keep up with the art world’s movers and shakers on social media? Here’s our updated selection of the 100 accounts you need to know about, in five handy instalments. First up, the artists

The Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang is best known for his use of fireworks and gunpowder — notably to create pyrotechnics for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. From his studio in New York, he provides daily updates on his continuing fascination with explosions in art.   

The anonymous Bristol-born street artist Banksy — creator of a short-lived satirical theme park, proprietor of a controversial hotel and star of global auction rooms — has an Instagram account with more than 12 million followers that is as unpredictable as his art. New projects appear unannounced, often addressing sociopolitical topics such as the Covid-19 pandemic or the migrant crisis. 

A rising star of the contemporary art world, Daniel Arsham posts images of his faintly sinister ‘eroded’ sculptures of everyday objects and figures from antiquity, as well as work from his collaborations with brands including Porsche, Disney and Stone Island. He also shows off his enviable sneaker collection. 

In October 2020, it was announced that Simone Leigh would be the first black woman to have a solo show in the US Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Leigh started her career working for a firm that produced tiles for the New York subway. In April 2023, she opened her first major museum show at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.

The Polish painter Ewa Juszkiewicz, who lives and works in Warsaw, reimagines Old master portraits by the likes of Louis-Leopold Boilly and Elisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun, wrapping their female sitters’ faces with fabric, flowers and hair. Since featuring in the 2014 book 100 Painters of Tomorrow  her reputation has soared — she has representation deals with Almine Rech and Gagosian galleries, and an auction record of $1.56 million under her belt now. On Instagram, expect pictures of her latest, sumptuous works, as well as updates on where to see them in forthcoming shows. 

In March 2021, Christie’s sold an NFT by the digital artist Mike Winkelmann, AKA Beeple, for $69 million, propelling him to the ranks of the world’s most expensive living artists — despite the fact that he was largely unknown. Now he is a household name, but he still finds time to upload a new digital artwork to his Instagram page every day. 

Stik’s account provides a window into the life of a graffiti artist busy painting his signature cartoon figures on everything from cardboard boxes to tower blocks and wind turbines. He also uses Instagram to verify his works (but only if they're being sold for charity), and to alert collectors to counterfeits.

Jeff Koons’s account reveals the human side of one of the world’s most successful living artists. Between images of his latest and favourite works — each supplemented with a short explanation — he shares photos of special moments spent with friends and family.

Fresh from curating a show of her own works alongside those of the late Louise Bourgeois at the Kunstmuseum Basel, the American conceptual artist Jenny Holzer has been sharing her most recent hypnotic, text-based pieces online. Most recently, they have taken the form of public projections, or phrases carved into marble blocks, addressing social and political injustices.

Takashi Murakami is the inventor of the term ‘superflat’, which is used to describe post-1990s Japanese Pop art. His Instagram feed is a showreel of his cartoon-like works, his latest brand collaborations and selfies with celebrity friends — including one of his biggest fans, Justin Bieber. 

The British artist Damien Hirst has taken to uploading short videos to his account. In some he tells 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

In 2021, a work by the Pakistani artist Salman Toor sold at auction for $890,000 — five times its estimate. The sale took place just weeks after his first museum solo show wrapped up at the Whitney in New York, confirming his status as a rising star of figurative painting. Toor’s Instagram posts include a mix of new works alongside the Old Masters that inspired them.

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, and in 2021 he collaborated with Dior on its men’s summer collection. His Instagram account offers updates on his latest work.

Tracey Emin — the Young British Artist once known for her wild lifestyle — is now growing old gracefully, and a large portion of her Instagram account is dedicated to her beloved pet cats. She also shares powerfully honest updates on her slow and painful road to recovery from cancer.  

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 enjoys listening to calypso records, strolling around Tokyo and canoeing off the coast Trinidad. He also uses his account to share some of his works that have been destroyed, and to track down others that have gone missing. 

At the start of 2022, the American artist Brian Donnelly, better known as KAWS, became the first person to have simultaneous solo shows at London’s Serpentine North gallery and in the online video game Fortnite. As someone who knows the power of digital spaces, KAWS is also one of the most prolific artists on Instagram, sharing images of his mutant-toy artworks looming between trees and floating down rivers.

The Indian-born, London-based artist Raqib Shaw recently held a rave-reviewed solo show at Ca’ Pesaro — International Gallery of Modern Art in Venice, which coincided with the 2022 Biennale. On Instagram, he shares images of his sources of inspiration, whether Persian miniatures or bonsai trees, along with works in progress.

Rashid Johnson is at the forefront of an exciting new generation of African American abstract painters. In 2022, he staged an extensive solo show at Hauser & Wirth’s newest outpost in Menorca. He uses social media to promote his work, exhibitions, media interviews and fellow artists, and to celebrate his heroes, including the late basketball legend Kobe Bryant — 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, often posting several times a day. In keeping with his art, he regularly uses social media as a tool for protest, whether addressing corruption, human rights abuses or restrictions on press freedom.

The French photographer JR is known for turning his black-and-white images into giant public installations. His works have appeared across Tower Bridge in London, at the Great Pyramid of Giza, on walls around Jerusalem and on the cover of Time  magazine. On Instagram, he shares his latest projects, as well as videos of him riding camels and driving around with his friend, the musician Pharrell Williams.