Famous Contemporary Artists, Ranked

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Vote up the best contemporary artists.

List of famous Contemporary art artists, with images, bios, and information about their notable works. All the greatest artists associated with the Contemporary art movement are included here, along with clickable names for more details on that particular painter or sculptor. These notable Contemporary art period artists are organized by popularity, so the best artists are at the top of the list. If you think the best Contemporary art artist isn't as high as they should be then be sure to give them an upvote.

A list made up of artists like Yoko Ono and Brian Eno.

This list answers the questions, "Who are the most famous Contemporary art artists?" and "Who are the best Contemporary art artists?"

Almost every well-known or influential figure in this movement is listed below. You can use this fact-based list to create a new list, re-rank it to fit your opinion, then share it with your Twitter followers, Facebook friends or with any other social networks you use regularly. {#nodes}

  • Odd Nerdrum
    Photo: user uploaded image
    212 VOTES

    Odd Nerdrum

    Odd Nerdrum (born 8 April 1944) is a Swedish-born, Norwegian figurative painter whose work is held by museums worldwide. Themes and style in Nerdrum's work reference anecdote and narrative. Primary influences by the painters Rembrandt and Caravaggio help place his work in direct conflict with the abstraction and conceptual art considered acceptable in much of Norway. Nerdrum creates six to eight paintings a year. They include still life paintings of small, everyday objects (like bricks), portraits and self-portraits, and large paintings allegorical and apocalyptic in nature. The figures in Nerdrum's paintings are often dressed as if from another time and place.Nerdrum was born in Helsingborg, Sweden to resistance fighters who had fled German-occupied Norway during World War II. At the end of the war Nerdrum returned to Norway with his parents. By 1950 Nerdrum's parents had divorced leaving the mother to raise Nerdrum and his younger brother. In 1993, Nerdrum discovered his father was not his biological father; his mother had had a relationship with the architect David Sanfed. Nerdrum was born from this liaison. Nerdrum was educated in a Rudolf Steiner school and later at the Art Academy of Oslo. Disillusioned with the art form taught at the academy and with modern art in general Nerdrum began to teach himself to paint in a post modern style with Rembrandt and Carravagio as influences. In 1965, he began a several-months study with the German artist Joseph Beuys. Nerdrum says that his art should be understood as kitsch rather than art as such. On Kitsch, a manifesto composed by Nerdrum, describes the distinction he makes between kitsch and art. Nerdrum's philosophy has spawned The Kitsch Movement among his students and followers, who call themselves kitsch painters rather than artists.
    • Artworks: Drifting, One Story Singer, Baby, Chosen, Bork in Paris
    • Birthplace: Helsingborg, Sweden
    • Associated periods or movements: Contemporary art
    • Nationality: Norway
    • Art Forms: Painting
    212 votes
  • Anselm Kiefer
    Photo: user uploaded image
    90 VOTES
    Anselm Kiefer (born 8 March 1945) is a German painter and sculptor. He studied with Joseph Beuys and Peter Dreher during the 1970s. His works incorporate materials such as straw, ash, clay, lead, and shellac. The poems of Paul Celan have played a role in developing Kiefer's themes of German history and the horror of the Holocaust, as have the spiritual concepts of Kabbalah. In his entire body of work, Kiefer argues with the past and addresses taboo and controversial issues from recent history. Themes from Nazi rule are particularly reflected in his work; for instance, the painting "Margarethe" (oil and straw on canvas) was inspired by Paul Celan's well-known poem "Todesfuge" ("Death Fugue"). His works are characterised by an unflinching willingness to confront his culture's dark past, and unrealised potential, in works that are often done on a large, confrontational scale well suited to the subjects. It is also characteristic of his work to find signatures and/or names of people of historical importance, legendary figures or historical places. All of these are encoded sigils through which Kiefer seeks to process the past; this has resulted in his work being linked with the movements New Symbolism and Neo–Expressionism.Kiefer has lived and worked in France since 1992. Since 2008, he has lived and worked primarily in Paris and in Alcácer do Sal, Portugal. In 2018, he was awarded Austrian citizenship.
    • Artworks: La Berceuse (for Van Gogh), The Paths of the Wisdom of the World: Hermann's Battle, Ways of Worldly Wisdom: Arminius's Battle, Osiris und Isis (Osiris and Isis), Die Frauen der Revolution (Women of the Revolution)
    • Birthplace: Donaueschingen, Germany
    • Associated periods or movements: Contemporary art
    • Nationality: Germany
    • Art Forms: Sculpture, Painting
    90 votes
  • 3
    66 VOTES
    Ai Weiwei is a film producer and film director.
    • Artworks: Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads, Coca-Cola vase, Sunflower Seeds, Remembering, Template
    • Birthplace: China, Beijing
    • Nationality: China
    • Art Forms: Sculpture, Photography, Installation art, Ceramic art
    66 votes
  • 4
    126 VOTES

    Neo Rauch

    Neo Rauch (born 18 April 1960, in Leipzig, East Germany; German: [ˈneːo ˈʀaʊx]) is a German artist whose paintings mine the intersection of his personal history with the politics of industrial alienation. His work reflects the influence of socialist realism, and owes a debt to Surrealists Giorgio de Chirico and René Magritte, although Rauch hesitates to align himself with surrealism. He studied at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst Leipzig, and he lives in Markkleeberg near Leipzig, Germany and works as the principal artist of the New Leipzig School. The artist is represented by Galerie EIGEN + ART Leipzig/Berlin and David Zwirner, New York. Rauch's paintings suggest a narrative intent but, as art historian Charlotte Mullins explains, closer scrutiny immediately presents the viewer with enigmas: "Architectural elements peter out; men in uniform from throughout history intimidate men and women from other centuries; great struggles occur but their reason is never apparent; styles change at a whim."
    • Artworks: Übergang
    • Birthplace: Leipzig, Germany
    • Associated periods or movements: Contemporary art
    • Nationality: Germany
    • Art Forms: Painting
    126 votes
  • Louise Bourgeois
    Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Public domain
    Louise Joséphine Bourgeois (French: [lwiz buʁʒwa] (listen); 25 December 1911 – 31 May 2010) was a French-American artist. Although she is best known for her large-scale sculpture and installation art, Bourgeois was also a prolific painter and printmaker. She explored a variety of themes over the course of her long career including domesticity and the family, sexuality and the body, as well as death and the subconscious. These themes connect to events from her childhood which she considered to be a therapeutic process. Although Bourgeois exhibited with the Abstract Expressionists and her work has much in common with Surrealism and Feminist art, she was not formally affiliated with a particular artistic movement.
    • Artworks: Maman, Mamelles, Janus Fleuri, Quarantania, III
    • Birthplace: France, Paris
    • Associated periods or movements: Contemporary art
    • Nationality: France, United States of America
    • Art Forms: Sculpture, Installation art, Painting
    72 votes
  • Chuck Close
    Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Fair use
    84 VOTES
    Charles Thomas "Chuck" Close (born July 5, 1940) is an American painter, artist and photographer. He makes massive-scale photorealist portraits. Close often paints abstract portraits of himself and others, which hang in collections internationally. Close also creates photo portraits using a very large format camera. Even though a catastrophic spinal artery collapse in 1988 left him severely paralyzed, he has continued to paint.
    • Artworks: Self Portraits / Scribble / Etching Portfolio, Self Portraits / Scribble / Etching Portfolio, Self Portraits / Scribble / Etching Portfolio, Self Portraits / Scribble / Etching Portfolio, Self Portraits / Scribble / Etching Portfolio
    • Birthplace: USA, Washington, Monroe
    • Associated periods or movements: Contemporary art
    • Nationality: United States of America
    • Art Forms: Painting
    84 votes