10 Millennial Artists to Watch in 2016

See who made the cut.

Jesse Reaves. Courtesy of
Olga Balema. Courtesy of Swiss Institute.

Olga Balema. Courtesy of Swiss Institute.

As a companion to our list from last year, artnet News reveals ten new up-and-coming artists born in or after the 1980s. Whether you see their work in between the aisles at a fair or during a gallery visit, our alphabetical list of artists to keep an eye on will guide you to the next generation as they rise to the top.

1. Olga Balema (b.1984)
Ukrainian born artist Olga Balema’s work deals with the notion of the body and how it acts as a point of discussion for wider philosophical and biological questions.

For her latest solo exhibition at the Swiss Institute in New York, Balema painted over several outdated schoolroom maps, obscuring any once useful information they may have contained. Attached to the maps are drooped and lumpy breasts made from latex. Ideally, Mother Earth is an all-caring entity that feeds and nurtures us, but Balema shows us the ugly truth: resources are finite, and destruction is imminent.

Ian Cheng. Courtesy of Pilar Corrias.

Ian Cheng. Courtesy of Pilar Corrias.

2. Ian Cheng (b. 1984)
New York-based artist Ian Cheng is interested in unpredictable narratives. Having a dual degree in art and cognitive science, the artist captures the boundlessness of our imagination in his video game-inspired stories. Each simulation is programmed to create an infinite amount of distinct animations, allowing his works to take on a life of their own once the artist’s hand is removed.

“[Art is] the one zone in culture where you can explore the present and cannibalize the past with relatively little oversight,” the artist said in a 2013 interview with BOMB magazine. This year, Cheng has had a solo show at Migros Museum for Contemporary Art in Zürich and is currently in a group exhibition at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC.

Than Hussein Clark. Courtesy of Basement Roma.

Dress artwork by Than Hussein Clark. All other artworks by Patrizio Di Massimo. Courtesy of Basement Roma.

3. Than Hussein Clark (b. 1981)
Equally an artist, designer, performer, writer, and director, the American-born, London- and Hamburg-based artist could be described as a Renaissance man. Clark explores the histories of architecture, decorative arts, and theater by bringing into question queer trajectories within Western culture. “Within modernism, the decorative is linked to sexual pathologies, and to the feminine,” the artist explained to Mousse magazine. “In premodernism, the decorative is linked to notions of historical revival or style in the face of classicism.”

The London-based collective Villa Design Group, which Clark is a member, currently has work on view at MIT’s Visual Arts Center.

Calla Henkel and Max Pitegoff at VI, VII. Courtesy of VI, VII, Oslo.

Calla Henkel and Max Pitegoff. Courtesy of VI, VII, Oslo.

4. Calla Henkel and Max Pitegoff (b. 1988, 1987)
Duo Calla Henkel and Max Pitegoff have collaborated for almost a decade since they met at Cooper Union School of Art in New York. After graduating, the two moved to Berlin and opened Times Bar and New Theatre, a performance space in which they invited writers, directors, artists, and musicians to contribute to their plays.

By making collaboration and theater central to their work, which is often shown through photography, the American artists interrogate the relationship between people and society. Last year, the duo’s New Theatre project migrated to the Whitney Museum for its finale, and the duo now has a work at the Berlin Biennale.

Sam Lewitt. Courtesy of Kunsthalle Basel.

Sam Lewitt. Courtesy of Kunsthalle Basel.

5. Sam Lewitt (b. 1981)
New York-based artist Sam Lewitt’s work uses both outdated and cutting-edge technology to create sculptures that reveal ceremoniously closed systems. For his most recent show at the Kunsthalle Basel, “More Heat Than Light,” Lewitt rerouted the museum’s electrical lighting currents to heat up thermal copper sheets strewn across the floor. Each sculpture, which feature blown up versions of already existing technologies, will emanate different amounts of heat depending on the electrical current of whichever space they are placed in.

“I like the idea that an artwork can determine its site: really structure it and not just aesthetically activate it,” the artist said in a statement for the show.

Helen Marten. Courtesy of Greene Naftali.

Helen Marten. Courtesy of Greene Naftali.

6. Helen Marten (b. 1985)
English artist Helen Marten is one of the nominees up for the Turner Prize this year. Last year the young artist was featured in the 56th Venice Biennale and she recently had a solo show at Greene Naftali gallery in New York.

Objects that defy categorization are central to Marten’s work. Aesthetically attractive, Marten’s sculptures possess an uncanny quality to being familiar to what we know, yet simultaneously far from our perception of the object’s reality.

McCarthy. Courtesy of

Win McCarthy. Courtesy of the Whitney Museum of American Art.

7. Win McCarthy (b. 1986)
The Brooklyn-born and raised artist is currently part of a group show at the Whitney Museum with 11 impressive sculptures scattered across the institution’s vast 8th floor. McCarthy’s work, which act as self-portraits, are at once intimate and totally banal.

By incorporating poetry, photography, and found newspaper clippings into his sculptures, we get a glimpse into the humorous and serious side of the always observant artist.

Kaspar Muller. Installation view, FRANKFURT FREAKOUT, Museum im Bellpark, Kriens 2015. Photo by Martin Stollenwerk.

Kaspar Muller. Installation view, “Frankfurt Freakout.” Photo by Martin Stollenwerk.Courtesy of Museum im Bellpark, Kriens.

8. Kaspar Muller (b. 1983)
The Swiss-born, Berlin and Zurich-based artist plays with issues of authenticity, sentimentality, and isolation.  Muller’s show at Museum im Bellpark in Kriens, Switzerland, last February featured rooms filled with different sized curios including the likes of famously-designed chairs, several vintage toys, books, and near-extinct technology.

At once familiar and unsettling, the disbanded objects create a confounded narrative questioning the real versus the fake and the role of the “functional” and “nonfunctional” object.

Jesse Reaves. Courtesy of

Jessi Reaves. Courtesy of Bridget Donahue.

9. Jessi Reaves (b. 1986)
The symbiosis of art and design culminates in Jessi Reave’s work which hovers between furniture and art object. Reaves’ creates conventional (and functioning) items you would find in any furniture shop: chairs, a couch, lamps, several shelving units. However, the artist assembles materials unconventionally to create an entirely unique aesthetic.; what is normally kept hidden inside furniture is turned out.

Reaves recently had a solo show at New York’s Bridget Donahue gallery.

Cameron Rowland. Courtesy of Artists Space.

Cameron Rowland. Courtesy of Artists Space.

10. Cameron Rowland (b. 1988)
The Philadelphia-born artist’s much-talked about solo show at Artists Space in New York consisted of inconspicuous items: two firefighter uniforms, a standard-looking desk, several rings to adjust manholes, four oak benches, and a pair of lashing bars.

Despite the aesthetic banality of the objects their history goes deeper and darker: each item (except the lashing bars) was made by prisoners. Rowland’s conceptual works bring together issues of race and politics, highlighting how history inevitably repeats itself.

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