For some people the world of art, especially modern art, can seem inaccessible – a closed sketch pad. You learn a few names of the classical greats: Michelangelo, for example; some of the Victorian artists whose portraits and landscapes populate museums (you could probably name Turner’s ‘The Haywain’ for a pub quiz if you needed to); and then one or two recent enfant terrible of modern art who’ve made a stir or won the Turner Prize. Tracey Emin Unmade Bed, or Damien Hirst’s preserved shark have both made the headlines, even if you can’t immediately remember that the shark was exhibited under the name “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living”.
Too many artists only have the renown they deserve within the closed ecosystem of the art world. today we’re taking a look at a few artists you really ought to have heard of!
Russia’s Art King
You may never have heard of the most important artist in Russia and Eastern Europe. Zurab Tsereteli has built a name for himself by specialising in art on the monumental scale from his early projects like a range of surreal, colourful bus shelters stretching across the Abkhazia region of the USSR. This made his reputation, and he’s maintained across the two very different era in Russia and Georgia that are separated by the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Since the decline of Communism Tsereteli has, if anything, become even more successful. His international gifts like To the Struggle Against World Terror, and The Birth of a New World are sculptures on a grand scale, and have built his reputation to the extent that he is now, essentially, the head of the Russian art establishment. He is the President of the Russian Academy of Arts, still produces his own work and also acts as a UNESCO ambassador – if you don’t know about Zurab Tsereteli, you should.
If you want to find the next big artist, you could do worse than scrutinise the list of nominees for big prizes like the Turner. While fame may await the winner, the runner ups are producing work of an equal quality but flying a little more below the radar. Büttner was nominated in 2017, after a decade of producing work that drew attention on the international scale.
She lives and works in both London and Frankfurt, and her work (frequently taking the form of video) often has a religious focus or inspiration. ‘Little Sisters: Lunapark Ostia’, for example, showed Büttner speaking with nuns about their vocation while they enjoyed a trip to a theme park – a collision of different themes and attitudes that made for a fascinating work skirting the boundary between art and documentary.
With Brexit approaching, this Anglo-European artist is definitely one to watch.