Top of the class?
Its hard to know who we ‘should be looking at’ when studying art. It’s easier to follow one’s nose and just investigate artists when you come across something you like. However, I can’t get away from the niggling feeling that there must be lots of contemporary artists that I should know more about, but its chicken and egg, if you don’t know who they are, how can you find out about them? I think I’ve found the answer on artnet. They publish a list of the top 300 most searched for artists every month. This may not be the most academic way of discovering who we should all know about, but there is at least a bit of science about it. Since this list is almost certainly based on an analysis of Google stats, it is at least, giving a true picture of what people are enquiring about right now.
For instance, since Lucien Freud’s and Cy Twombly’s recent deaths, these two have shot to the top of the list. This makes sense. As yet, John Hoyland appears nowhere on the list, but I bet he will do in a month’s time. It makes sense that Banksy, Damien Hirst and Nan Goldin are up near the top, but I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t know who Jock Sturges or Wayne Thiebaud are and a few others near the top. I think I’d better find out. You can click on each of the names to get a quick view of each of the artists’ work. Interestingly there are a lot of photographers near the very top of the list, and of those a preponderance of those concerned with photographing human flesh, erm, especially female flesh. They may be great photographers, but their ranking is more likely to reflect a certain amount of popular ‘recreational’ surfing of the internet, rather than an interest in art?
Picasso sits at number 33 in July, with Gerhard Richter at 34. No doubt with the coming of the big retrospective on Richter in London in the Autumn, his ranking will go up. It’s interesting to see how the greats of the 20th century are mixed in with contemporary figures in art, and heartening to see that interest in contemporary art is alive and well.