From Basquiat to Hirst: How Artists Inspired Contemporary Art

Contemporary art is the art of today, made and produced by artists living in our time; it expands from street art to sculpture and painting. In other words, it’s modern art. The main purpose of contemporary art is to reflect the issues in society that are important to the artists and the world.

Several artists have helped shape contemporary art, they have become cultural icons that will be recognized forever in the art world. From exhibiting their work in the most distinguished art galleries to breaking history with extremely high sale records. Here is a list of all the artists who have influenced and shaped art as we see it today.

Jean-Michel Basquiat

You may have heard of Jean-Michel Basquiat, one of the most highly acclaimed artists. He was a self-taught Brooklyn born painter who used different mediums and techniques to show how art does not need to be perfect. He rose to fame when he made a huge transition from a graffiti artist who no one knew of, to a neo-expressionist highly acclaimed artist. Even though he didn’t get to experience fame for a long time due to his sudden death at age 27, he is and will always be remembered as one of the most revolutionary artists in history.

Basquiat’s is the perfect example of how anti-cultural modern art can become popular and embraced by many, his abstract paintings have ended up being sold for $110.5 million.

jmb art

I don’t think about art when I’m working. I try to think about life.” – Jean-Michel Basquiat

Damien Hirst

Everyone knows who Damien Hirst is, a world-renowned artist who dominated the art scene in the United Kingdom during the 1990s. He is one of the wealthiest controversial artists today, who explores different relationships between religion, art, science, life and death. His artworks include dead animals preserved inside glass tanks filled with formaldehyde gas and diamond-covered skulls. There is a lot of speculation around his work, some people love his art and others hate it, but he did a great job as in the end, everyone is talking about it. 

Hirst animal tank

“In an artwork, you’re always looking for artistic decisions, so an ashtray is perfect. An ashtray has got life and death.”- Damien Hirst

Takashi Murakami

Takashi Murakami, aka “Warhol of Japan”, is extremely famous for using fine art and mixing it with anime and manga cartoons. He has been able to bring the Japanese culture to the western community, who have appreciated and praised his art. His work has become famous worldwide in more than the art world, he created a postmodern art movement called ‘superflat’ which consists of combining contemporary Chinese pop culture alongside Japanese art. tAkashi murakami

“My aesthetic sense was formed at a young age by what surrounded me: the narrow residential spaces of Japan and the mental escapes from those spaces that took the forms of manga and anime.” – Takashi Murakami

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama is one of the most, if not the most, famous artists in Japan. She has taken the art world by storm with all her signature paint dots, as she tries to express her anxious feelings through her art. Her more-than-fascinating art is an escape for her, a way to depict what she sees and feels due to her mental instability. Today she is known for her “Infinity Rooms”, a large-scale enclosed space that has become Instagram trendy.

Yayoi Kusama, All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, detail, 2016

“My desire was to predict and measure the infinity of the unbounded universe, from my own position in it, with dots,”- Yayoi Kusama

Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons is a unique artist compared to all the rest as he uses ordinary objects and transforms them into fine art. He deals with pop culture and finds art in places people would never imagine, in everyday objects. He has not only influenced the world of art, but also fashion and music, through collaborations with Lady Gaga, Louis Vuitton, BMW and others. 

Whether you find his art too simple, or you love his work, he knows how to sell himself and his art, being one of the most popular artists today.

Jeff goons balloon dog

“Art to me is a humanitarian act and I believe that there is a responsibility that art should somehow be able to effect mankind, to make the world a better place.” – Jeff Koons

From installations to paintings, these artists have not only shaped contemporary art, but they have also allowed people and artists to feel secure and free with their feelings. Alive or dead, they have revolutionized the concept of “art” and gave it a new meaning.

I have created 2 FREE ebooks for you that cover 10 Steps to Improve your Art and 10 Mistakes to avoid in Realistic Portrait Drawing.

If you would like to gain in-depth knowledge and improve your art skills in a specific medium, I have created art courses for you that I have reduced in price by 50% for you all to enjoy during this difficult time.

online art courses

Scroll to Top