The Art Market Has Transformed Over the Past Decade. Here Were Its Fastest-Rising Stars, According to the Artnet Price Database

To get a snapshot of how tastes changed in the 2010s, we examined which artists drew the most individual searchers.

Jonas Wood, Bullets (mini) (2017). Courtesy of the artist and Art Basel.

We like to think good art is timeless. But the art market is in the business of timeliness, not timelessness. And that means that changes in the market—whether they are the result of an institutional push, a speculative rush, a change in taste, or simply the death or divorce of a collector—can happen fast. Many of the most sought-after contemporary artists today were not particularly coveted just 10 years ago.

To get a sense of which artists’ fortunes have risen most sharply over the past decade, we examined the history of Artnet Price Database searches to determine who had the biggest rise in interested users. (The metric shows us which artists are gaining traction based on how many individuals searched for their auction records.)

The result offers a vivid picture of a changing industry that privileges youth more than ever before, but which is increasingly recognizing the value of—and looking to cash in on—women and artists of color.

Read takeaways from our findings and check out the full list below.

 

1. The market of the 2010s loves youth. 

Of the 100 artists with the greatest increase in interested users since 2010, only two do not qualify as either postwar (which covers artists artists born between 1911 and 1944) or contemporary (artists born after 1945): the canvas-slasher Lucio Fontana (1899–1968) and abstract color theorist Josef Albers (1888–1976). They rank sixty-ninth and seventy-third, respectively. Meanwhile, artists born after 1975 took up 23 slots on the 100-artist list, led by market darling Jonas Wood (b. 1977), who was the most-searched artist of the decade.

Banksy’s Girl with a Balloon shredded itself after selling for $1.4 million at Sotheby’s. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

2. The pull of street art is real.  

The 2010s may be remembered as the decade in which street art sold out—or at least the one in which the art market began to cash in on a new generation. KAWS, the New Jersey-born graffiti artist turned art-market sensation, is the second fastest-rising artist on the list. But the top 100 names also contains RETNA (19), Banksy (20), Mr. Brainwash (30), Shepard Fairey (46), and Invader (56). While these artists often base their personas on the fact that they operate outside the market, it’s clear that their work has found its way in—and, over the past decade, it has been of great interest to market players.

The auction of Kerry James Marshall’s Past Times. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

3. It’s not (entirely) a white man’s game anymore. 

This past decade has also widely been trumpeted as the era in which women and artists of color finally began to be recognized by the market and museums (although the reality of the situation is more complicated). Our list of rising artists reveals a changing marketplace, but not a fundamentally transformed one. Thirty out of the top 100 artists are not white; 20 are women. The presence of Yayoi Kusama (3) and Sam Gilliam (4), who have been working steadily and inventively since the 1960s, so high up on the list is emblematic of an art market finally waking up to art and artists who have been making waves and wielding influence outside its confines for decades.

 

Here are the top 100 artists with the biggest rise in Artnet Price Database searches from 2010 to 2019. 

 

  1. Jonas Wood
  2. KAWS
  3. Yayoi Kusama
  4. Sam Gilliam
  5. Günther Förg
  6. Harold Ancart
  7. Adrian Ghenie
  8. Kerry James Marshall
  9. Stanley Whitney
  10. David Hockney
  11. Lynette Yiadom-Boakye
  12. Carmen Herrera
  13. Wolfgang Tillmans
  14. Henry Taylor
  15. Mark Bradford
  16. Jean-Michel Basquiat
  17. RETNA
  18. Banksy
  19. George Condo
  20. Danh Vo
  21. Lee Ufan
  22. Alex Israel
  23. Theaster Gates
  24. Keith Haring
  25. Mary Corse
  26. Joe Bradley
  27. Kazuo Shiraga
  28. Mr. Brainwash
  29. Rudolf Stingel
  30. Rashid Johnson
  31. Christopher Wool
  32. Albert Oehlen
  33. Mel Bochner
  34. Josh Smith
  35. Mark Grotjahn
  36. Antony Gormley
  37. Günther Uecker
  38. Tracey Emin
  39. François-Xavier Lalanne
  40. Robert Longo
  41. Oscar Murillo
  42. Glenn Ligon
  43. Ai Weiwei
  44. Shepard Fairey
  45. Sterling Ruby
  46. Thomas Houseago
  47. Wade Guyton
  48. Zao Wou-Ki
  49. Tauba Auerbach
  50. Dan Colen
  51. Mary Weatherford
  52. Urs Fischer
  53. Park Seo-Bo
  54. Invader
  55. Njideka Akunyili Crosby
  56. Nate Lowman
  57. Harland Miller
  58. Eddie Martinez
  59. Otto Piene
  60. Lucien Smith
  61. Mark Flood
  62. Tony Cragg
  63. David Ostrowski
  64. Heinz Mack
  65. Katherine Bernhardt
  66. Gerhard Richter
  67. Lucio Fontana
  68. Jack Whitten
  69. Georg Baselitz
  70. Rob Pruitt
  71. Mickalene Thomas
  72. Katharina Grosse
  73. Josef Albers
  74. Carol Rama
  75. Richard Hambleton
  76. Sturtevant
  77. Imi Knoebel
  78. Agostino Bonalumi
  79. Alec Monopoly
  80. Anish Kapoor
  81. Turi Simeti
  82. Walead Beshty
  83. Jeff Elrod
  84. Petra Cortright
  85. Agnes Martin
  86. Ugo Rondinone
  87. Jeff Koons
  88. Tomoo Gokita
  89. Alex Katz
  90. Chung Sang Hwa
  91. Pat Steir
  92. Enrico Castellani
  93. Ruth Asawa
  94. Etel Adnan
  95. Michelangelo Pistoletto
  96. Adam Pendleton
  97. El Anatsui
  98. Paolo Scheggi
  99. Carol Bove
  100. Christian Rosa

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