Odd Culture

The Most Successful Contemporary Artists

posted by Chris Valentine


The world of contemporary art is a very different place to the old masters – while the works of Leonardo and Titian hang in galleries, the subject of the admiration of masses, the studious criticism of academics and the learning of student artists, contemporary works change hands for enormous sums. They’re more commonly privately owned – but sometimes available to the public in exhibitions that give a once in a lifetime chance to see what’s happening at the cutting edge of art.

Today we’re taking a look at some of the most successful contemporary artists working in the world today, to give you a taste of the craft and drama on offer!


There’s really only one name worth thinking about in the world of modern, grand-scale sculpture, and that’s Zurab Tsereteli. He’s been the Russian master of the form for decades now and shows no sign of slowing down as he enters his mid-eighties.

Due to the scale of his work, and the fact that it’s often presented to public bodies and organisations, its more accessible than many modern artists – you can find his statues and sculptures in public parks, university campuses and even on the street in the City of London, not collected into private galleries by private millionnaires.

Grayson Perry

If you measure successful by fame and visibility, there are few more successful than Grayson Perry. As well known as a media personality as he an artist, he’s many people’s ‘gateway artist’ – the person through whom they discover the whole modern art scene. He’s hosted his own TV Shows, released books, curated exhibitions and even hosted Have I Got News For You, frequently appearing as his feminine alter ego “Claire”.

Perhaps more than anyone else on the contemporary Art Scene, Grayson Perry embodies Oscar Wilde’s attitude that the true duty of the artist is not to make artworks, but to make their life into art.

Gerhard Richter

Of course, the other major measure of success is money. Richter is consistently the most expensive artist in the field, sometimes apparently setting records with every fresh work. His Abstrakes Bild set a world record for the price of a painting by a living artist when it sold for $34 million dollars in 2012. Between then and 2016 the record was broken twice more – both time by new works by Richter. It seems the man can only be surpassed by himself.

Of course, on top of commanding huge prices, his work is complex, inviting debate by critics and long contemplation from those lucky enough to afford his works for their private collections.

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