• Cameron Sinclair

Top 10 postmodern artists

Postmodernist art isn’t a continuation of modern art but in-fact the complete opposite. Postmodernism saw a completely new chapter in the history of art, as the art-world performed a complete U-turn on traditional artistic technique a new, exciting, avant-garde reincarnation of what we call as ‘art’ was born. Obviously art is incredibly subjective, thus, this list means absolutely nothing... but here is it anyway, our list of top 10 postmodern artists:

10.Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman is an American artist who depicts herself as imaginary characters, guises and personas in various contexts, exploring contemporary identity and how it is represented within culture, whilst critiquing femininity as a social construct. Her themes focus on gender roles and class identity, alongside fiction and artifice, performance, cinema, myth and fairy tale, with imagery often being borrowed from film, television and magazines from 1950s-60s. Sherman takes on multiple roles within the creation of her photos, such as the photographer, director, model, stylist, makeup artist and hairdresser.

In the late 1980s Sherman became influenced by Julia Kristeva’s theory of abjection and so she created her ‘Disasters and Horror Series’ and in 1989-1990 she took on iconic images within art history, questioning the canon and institutions, in a series of 35 photographs. In 1992 she created her ‘Sex Series’ whereby she aimed to address censorship within the arts and correlated funding.

9. Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons is one of Americas most popular contemporary artists, he rose to fame in the1980swith an artistic intent to “communicate with the masses”. His work combines the ancient, the everyday and the beautiful, he juxtaposesart history and popular culture, favouring large distinguishable sculptures to do this.Probably most famous for his Celebration series(1994–2011) which included oversized sculptures of souvenirs, balloon animals, toys, ornaments and more that are bright, shiny and intentionally tacky looking. In 2019, his stainless-steel Rabbit sculpture sold for a record-breaking $91.1 million at auction, making him the most expensive living artist at the time.

8. Barbara Kruger

Barbara Kruger, born in 1945, depicts the post-modernism notion through her black-and-white (found and appropriated) photographs and declaring over-laid captions often in Future Bold font, declaring pronouns such as “I” and “we”; an address of identity, gender, power, sexuality, autonomy and consumerism as well as confronting gender stereotypes.  Through advertising and mass communication, with her Images displayed as posters and billboards, Kruger establishes a discourse on linguistics, with recognisable slogans such as ‘Your body is a battleground’, her poster for the Women’s March on Washington, 1989, supporting legal abortion.

In 2005 Kruger installed a vinyl mural with digital print at the Venice Biennale. Dividing the Italian pavilion into three segments (green, red and white) with the words ‘power’ and ‘money’ in both English and Italian on the columns as well as the phrase ‘Pretend things are going as planned’ on the left wall and "God is on my side; he told me so" on the right. 

7.Marcel Duchamp

Marcel Duchamp is associated with conceptual art, Dada and Cubism. He was interested in ideas with more than purely visual components and therefore declared how need not be ‘beautiful’ and do does not purely need exist to please the eye, rejecting ‘retinal art’ of his contemporaries.

Leaving painting behind him, Duchamp presented commercially available and mass-produced objects as art with titles. These ready-mades questioned and presented Duchamp’s nuance stance that it is the choice of the artist to announce what art is, as opposed to the skill of an artist in creating a handmade object. Duchamp allowed for puns, irony, humour and paradoxes to exist in the ready-mades, the limits of the publics taste, demonstrated in his famous piece; fountain, a urinal signed and dated ‘R. Mutt 1917’.

6. Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst, the renowned English artist and one of the Young British Artists of the 1990s UK art scene. With death and decay as a prominent theme within his work, he preserved a series of dead animals, including a cow and a sheep, with the preservation of a tiger shark immersed within a clear display case of formaldehyde, being one of his established works, titled ‘The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living’, 1992. This piece sold for £50,000. In 1993 Hirst exhibited at the Venice Biennale, a cow and a calf cut into segments and shown within separate vitrines: ‘Mother and Child Divided’. In September 2008, Hirst completely sold his show, Beautiful Inside My Head Forever, by auction at Sotheby’s for £111 million, consequently becoming the record for a one-artist auction. He won the Turner Prize in 2005 and directed Blur’s music video for ‘Country House’.


Banksy is easily one of the most well-known artists alive, also the least well known. The faceless enigma has been gracing the streets with satirical art instillations for over 30 years now. He tends to favour stencils and spray painting to create their work which often playfully incorporating whatever they might find on the street, whether it be street signs or a stain on a wall, some of his most famous graffiti pieces are the Flower Thrower and The girl with the balloon. His artwork often incorporates dark humour with graffiti whilst also spreading messages across art, philosophy, and politics.

As well as his iconic street art Banksy, has also achieved great commercial success having record breaking sales at numerous art auctions with paintings such as Devolved Parliament which depicts the houses of parliament filled with chimpanzees. He has also written and directed a film “Exit Through the Gift Shop”, has set up his own dystopian theme park names Dismalandwhich featured work of his own and of 58 other artists.

4. Keith Haring

Grown out of New York street culture Keith Haring took his inspiration from Picasso and Mickey mouse alike. He developed a unique line drawing style that would rapidly elevate him from drawing graffiti on the NYC subway to becoming one of the most recognisable and most loved artists of his time. His work features line drawn characters such as ‘the radiant baby’, ‘the barking dog’, ‘the angel’ and ‘the three eyed monster’. Each character is used as emblems of the artist’s social view, both positive and negative, similar to an urban tribal language or hieroglyphics.

His desire was to make his artwork available to as many people as possible,“Art is nothing if you don’t reach every segment of the people,” he said. “Art is for everybody.”To make this possible he opened a Pop shop, a retail store selling T-shirts, toys, posters and magnets baring his artwork for an affordable price.

Haring also dedicated a lot of time to creating public artworks that can be seen all around the world. He used his universally recognized visual language to portray important social messaged. These include safe sex, anti-drugs posters and activism and awareness about AIDS, which would tragically cut his life short at the age of 31.

3. Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock was a leading member in the abstract expressionism movement between the 1940s-50s. He believed in the necessity of spontaneous outburst in his art, this exudes through his famous‘action paintings’. These paintings involved lying his vast canvases out on the floor then dripping paint straight out of the can, he would then use knifes, trowels or sticks to add depth. The beauty of Pollocks paintings is that they don’t follow any contemporary style of art, but rather reject it entirely. Through dripping, flinging and splattering paint onto his canvas he rejects all traditional painting techniques such as brushwork and, modelling, and the representation of depth. Creating a unique impulsive style that has become omnipresent in the through subsequent years of art history.

Pollocks influence on American art is unprecedented, through his new style, new scale, new composition of space, colour, drawing and hierarchy, he made it possible for American painting to be compared with European modernism.

2. Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat took the art world by storm when he emerged on the scene in the early 1980’s. He took his inspiration from anything and everything that he saw in the world around him. Often fusing historical elements with popular culture through an expressionist confidence, he would celebrate black culture by painting black figures black figures, including athletes, musicians and writers, immortalising these historically marginalised people through his art. An example of this is his 1982 painting Untitled (The Boxer) which depicts one of his idols; Mohammed Ali.

His raw expression of colour, words and pictures see him at the forefront of the Neo-expressionism movement. But Basquiat became much more than just that, during his intense but brief lifetime he would make an undeniable mark on the artworld. As an artist he rose to greatness critically, commercially and culturally - Basquiat’s 1982 painting: Untitled. sold for $110.5 million in 2017- setting a record for an American artist. As a person he became a cult figure and an art icon who was the first African American to have a prominent place in western art.

1. Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol tops the list not only for his iconic artistic style but also his influence on art and culture as we know it. In 1961, he debuted the concept of "pop art" — paintings that focused on mass-produced commercial goods, for example his iconic Campbell’s soup cans, released in 1962. Warhol's other famous pop art paintings featured Coca-cola bottles, vacuum cleaners and hamburgers. 

As well as consumer products, Warhol also saw a fascination with celebrities, particularly the way society creates personas which can be manufactured, commodified, and consumed like products. Arguably his most famous piece Marilyn Diptych epitomises what Warhol was as an artist, depicting two of his most favourite themes: death and the cult of celebrity. Warhol made the silkscreen printings in the 4 months after Monroe’s untimely death in 1962, the contrast between bright colours and Black and white, and the fading towards the right are expressive of the celebrity’s death. The repetition of her portrait evokes her omnipresence within the media.

Never bound down to one medium, throughout his career Warhol experimented with photography, sculpture, album art, writing books, directing films, hosting a TV show and even managing a famous rock band in the form of The Velvet underground. As he grew more and more popular, Warhol began to relished his own celebrity persona, frequenting New York City’s infamous nightclubs such as Studio 54 and Max's Kansas City, as well as opening his New York art studio in 1964 simply known as ‘the factory’ which quickly became a cultural hotspot attracting the cities richest celebrities and socialites.

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