In his play Back to Methuselah
, George Bernard Shaw wrote, "Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable."
That's precisely why humans have been making art for 40,000 years, and writing about it at least since Pliny the Elder sat down to describe the beauty of Greek sculpture in his Natural History
. They haven't stopped since.
For newcomers, though, the global landscape of contemporary art can seem daunting. Where do you even start? Just waltz into a gallery and — poof
— you're an art expert?
Sometimes, you need an introduction. With that in mind, we asked three curators to select 29 artists — some well-known in their field, some up-and-coming, some traversing the space in between — whom we should all be following.
These artists engage with politics, personal history, and art itself through a variety of media, from Nobutaka Aozaki's public portraits of strangers on plastics bags to Wael Shawky's reimagining of the Crusades through marionettes — from Esther Kläs' solemn, monolithic sculptures to Bryan Zanisnik's obsessive assemblages of everyday objects.
Selected by our panel of curators — from a museum, a public art institution, and an online art-collecting platform — these are the artists worth knowing about now. Their stars are quickly rising, and they're making work that is beautiful, inscrutable, hilarious, haunting, and powerful.
Click through to meet the curators and see the 29 art stars you should be watching.
Designed by Sydney Hass