Outstanding Visual Artists

Outstanding Visual Artists (10 Inspiring Careers)

Master of Arts (M.A.), Communication Studies
Professional Profile. Accessed on: 2019-10-21 18:19:49

Painting, sculpture, photography and crafts — these are all pieces of art considered within the realm of “visual art.” Those who create them, along with many others like film and architecture, are called visual artists. Professionals in this realm of creative work may hold a variety of positions from self-made artists to animators with large film studios to firm-based architects. Many of their works intend to build emotion, convey opinions, and inspire ideas. The work of these contemporary outstanding visual artists is certainly worth posting.

While painters and sculptors of the past have made their name in history books, these select artists are still influencing the art world. Some are even influencing culture at large. Contemporary visual artists tend to express concern about three specific elements:
1) how art is made
2) how art is communicated and displayed
3) how spectators experience the art
Ultimately, these artists do not concern themselves with the pieces they create themselves. Their interest lies in the development of concepts or ideas and fashioning those together through mixed media to convey their message.

The contemporary visual art scene can be interpreted as visual culture because of this intent to communicate through an image — be it two- or three-dimensional, on paper or film, sculpted or drawn. Within that culture, these visual artists have impacted cultural change.

Contemporary Feminism and Visual Art: Tali Gumbiner and Lizzie Wilson

Tali Gumbiner and Lizzie Wilson are outstanding visual artists who designed the "Fearless Girl" statue in New York City.
Lizzie Wilson (left) and Tali Gumbiner (right)

Tali Gumbiner and Lizzie Wilson are the outstanding sculptors behind “Fearless Girl,” a now-iconic part of Wall Street. The statue faces the charging bull in a confident stance, marking the surge of female empowerment movements after the 2016 US presidential election.

“Fearless Girl” debuted the day before International Women’s Day in 2017. Gumbiner and Wilson’s work intended to challenge corporate America and what it symbolizes. The piece was created on behalf of State Street Global Advisors.

"Fearless Girl" statue across from Wall Street bull
“Fearless Girl”

As is expected with contemporary visual art, the bronze statue intends to symbolize and change a culture. The piece uses the symbol of a girl to highlight the perception of women as being small, yet her stance of confidence lends itself to empowerment.

While the duo’s work together lasted only 18 months, the impact was significant in the modern visual art world. “Fearless Girl” is their third project together that has, perhaps, had the most lasting impact. Their other projects include branding for graduation dresses, a Tommee Tippee photo shoot, and Godiva’s “Box That Keeps Giving” campaign.

Outstanding Visual Artist Tali Gumbiner

Considered one of the most creative people of the new millennium, Tali Gumbiner is currently a freelance professional. Although she is recognized as a visual artist for her work on several projects, like “Fearless Girl,” her primary medium is pen and paper.

Gumbiner is primarily a writer and creative director. She holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of Michigan. One is in English (with High Honors) and the other is in psychology. Additionally, she earned her Master of Fine Arts in Fiction from New York University.

She began her career as a creative assistant with Mother New York. Later, she joined McCann New York as a copywriter and worked her way up the ranks. Gumbiner served as a senior copywriter for just shy of a year; she then served as the company’s associate creative director until February of 2018.

Since working in the corporate world, Gumbiner went on to write novels. Her book, What Home Is, won the First Novel Prize from The Center for Fiction in 2018. The tale follows a family of four children from a Native American-Jewish heritage.

In addition to this award, she holds several others. Her collection includes several Cannes Lions honors, Design and Art Direction recognitions, Clio Awards, One Show honors (including Best of Show and Best in Show for Direct Marketing), and Andy Awards. Beyond being named a Most Creative Person by Fast Company, she has been named top-of-class by several other entities. Gumbiner was the 2018 AdAge Creative of the Year, part of their Creatives You Need to Know list, and an AdWeek Creative 100. Moreover, one of her projects was named Ad of the Year by Time Magazine in 2018.

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Outstanding Visual Artist Lizzie Wilson

Considered a creative leader, Lizzie Wilson is an outstanding visual artist. She is currently an associate creative director at McCann New York and one of the brilliant minds of advertising ingenuity in the 2010s.

Wilson holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Additionally, she holds a degree in art direction from the Miami Ad School.

Although a career in advertising was not her original interest coming out of school, a quick internet search drove her toward it. As a visual artist, she knew she wanted to work in a creative capacity. Since completing her work in art direction, she has continued to grow as an art director.

Of note, her greatest concern as an artist is the feminist cause. She voices that the greatest challenges facing women today are equal opportunity, harassment, and violence. In co-designing and creating “Fearless Girl,” she found a way to “do good” for the world, especially for the women of the world, through an uncommon means. The use of brass, a strong resilient metal, intends to distort and shatter perceptions of women (and little girls) as weak or frail. Thus, she uses contemporary art to extend her beliefs.

Wilson holds several recognitions and honors for her work. She was a 2018 AdAge Creative of the Year as well as one their Creatives You Need to Know. Like her artistic partner, she made the list for Fast Company’s Most Creative People, Entrepreneur’s 50 Most Daring Entrepreneurs, and AdWeek’s Creative 100. Moreover, she holds several Cannes Lions honors, Design and Art Direction recognitions, Clio and Andy Awards, and One Show honors (including Best of Show and Best in Show for Direct Marketing).

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Pop Art Enthusiast: Takashi Murakami

Takashi Murakami is an outstanding visual artist who works in the medium of "pop art"
Takashi Murakami

Pop art is Takashi Murakami’s playground as an outstanding visual artist. His works incorporate bright colors and monstrous distortion. Moreover, they offer a critical commentary on some of the most recognized cultural imagery.

A graduate of Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, he holds bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees. Interestingly, he began his studies in nihonga, a prestigious painting style from Japan that borrows elements of Western art. However, he learned about animation production outside of his schooling, which he has incorporated in much of his work. Additionally, his education led him to disdain and become critical of the Western art market.

727 by Takashi Murakami

Because of this disdain and frustration with Westernized art and its production, Murakami’s art extends his criticisms. He varies his media between sculptures and paintings. All of it, however, relies on anime-like characters that overtly distort Western expectations. For example, his piece 727 uses Mr. DOB, a triptych avatar designed by Murakami, relies on anime effects like large eyes. He then distorts those expectations with terrifying razor-sharp teeth. The piece exaggerates these elements, openly criticizing Western expectations.

In addition to his direct visual art pieces, Murakami began his own movement: Superflat. This artistic movement aims at defying the art world dominated by Western interpretation and investment. Moreover, he has developed a new type of Pop art. New-Pop, his contribution to contemporary visual art, arguably eradicates the line between popular culture and high art.

Murakami is both celebrated and criticized broadly. Pieces like 727 are housed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, yet they often garner negative attention from Western critics. Nonetheless, Murakami’s talents are renowned. He holds an Art Encouragement Prize from the Japanese Ministry of Education.

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Top-Ranked Outstanding Visual Artist: Frank Stella

Frank Stella is an outstanding visual artist who works in paintings and sculptures
Frank Stella

Best known for using geometric shapes and patterns in paintings and sculptures, Frank Stella is a highly influential contemporary artist. Much of his work goes beyond abstraction, providing narratives through color and pattern. As an outstanding visual artist, Stella has work placed in many prestigious museums and galleries, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Stella studied history at Princeton University, ultimately earning a degree in the field. However, he also painted and frequently visited art galleries in New York City. This influence led to his unique development as a contemporary artist. He also holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Jena in Germany, which still displays “Hudson River Valley Series,” a large sculpture piece.

Although from the suburbs, Stella moved to and remained in New York since college. In doing so, he experienced the peak of the Abstract Expressionism movement. Much of that influence is evident in his own early pieces. However, his swift movement into the contemporary came through his use of Minimalism.

Spectralia by Frank Stella

Stella quickly became famous. Within a decade of painting professionally, he became the youngest visual artist to have a solo exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. His work is still exhibited frequently at the MoMA. Additionally, Stella continues to paint and sculpt.

Beyond his numerous productions around the globe, Stella holds several honors. Perhaps most distinguished, however, is his Charles Eliot Norton lecture series given at Harvard. The invitation was extended from 1983 to 1984, and the collection was published in 1986. Moreover, he holds a U.S. National Medal of Arts and an International Sculpture Center Lifetime Achievement Award.

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Contemporary Abstract Painter: Gheorghe Virtosu

Gheorghe Virtosu is an outstanding visual artist who works in abstract techniques
Gheorghe Virtosu

Moldova-born, Gheorghe Virtosu is an abstract painter of the United Kingdom. He believes the role of art is to fill voids with “the expression of an idea.” His contemporary leanings showcase him as a modern outstanding visual artist.

Originally, Virtosu studied art at the Sankt Petersburgh Arts Academy. However, his opportunity there lasted only two years. As his nation — and the superpower ruling it — declined, he thought his life would be one serving in the military. As such, he left his art studies and attended the State Security Academy in Saint Petersburg.

Upon the demise of the Soviet Union, Virtosu found himself an Eastern European with unknown freedom. As he traversed the globe, he studied art and began again with his own work. He is ultimately a self-taught artist, and his life experiences frequently shape his work. Virtosu is known for his passion and “bleeds” it onto the canvas.

Eventually, he settled in London, where he became a famous contemporary abstract painter. His paintings infuse color and narrative through abstract concept and design. They intend to bring forth the most vivid images from the psyche and are emboldened by Virtosu’s own experience and worldly perspectives. Much of his work takes root in multiculturalism, finding a stronghold in politics and “real world” happenings.

Fatimah Bint Muhammad is a 2016 oil painting from Gheorghe Virtosu.
Fatimah Bint Muhammad

Virtosu has had exhibits in several galleries and museums. One such exhibition was at Saatchi Art in 2017. It featured his piece Fatimah Bint Muhammad (2016), which became the most lucrative work in production by a contemporary British artist. He also has his own gallery, which features his works and those of his contemporaries.

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Outstanding Conceptual Artist: Adrian Piper

Adrian Piper is an outstanding visual artist who works in traditional and non-traditional media
Adrian Piper

Not only an outstanding conceptual artist but also an analytic philosopher, Adrian Piper embodies contemporary visual art. Her collections can be found at the Centre Pompidou, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art, among others.

Where many artists find their niche in college, Piper knew her path early. As a student at New Lincoln School from elementary through high school, she participated in the Art Students’ League. By the age of twenty, she graduated from the School of Visual Arts and exhibited her artwork internationally.

Later, she went on to college. She completed her bachelor’s in philosophy at the City College of New York and earned her Ph.D. in Philosophy from Harvard University. Additionally, she briefly studied at the University of Heidelberg under Dieter Henrich.

Her artwork is in traditional and non-traditional media that ranges from photo-text collage to video installation and digital imagery to site-specific sculptural installation to performance. Ultimately, she aims to engage the spectator through a direct and unmediated relationship to her objects. Philosophically, she leans toward feminism, often exploring agency and subjecthood within socio-political contexts.

The Probable Trust Registry was an installation and interactive performance piece from contemporary visual artist Adrian Piper
The Probable Trust Registry installation and interactive performance

Piper’s artwork earned her many awards. Of note, The Probable Trust Registry (2013-15) received the 2015 Venice Biennale Golden Lion Award for Best Artist. For other works, she received several fellowships. Additionally, she won the 2012 College Art Association Artist Award for a Distinguished Body of Work. In 2014, Piper was awarded a Women’s Caucus for Art Lifetime Achievement Award. Moreover, she is the first American to have been honored the Kaethe Kollwitz prize of Germany. In addition to her art recognitions, her philosophical works have also received recognition, including a National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Pioneer of Contemporary Feminist Art: Judy Chicago

Judy Chicago is an outstanding visual artist who works from the feminist perspective in varied media.
Judy Chicago

The daughter of political activists, Judy Chicago pioneered feminist art. Her career now spans five decades. As an outstanding visual artist, she works in various media. Nonetheless, her works all intend to educate, communicate, and promote the significance of women and their socio-political experiences.

Her formal studies in art were at the Art Institute of California and UCLA. Chicago’s commitment to education continues in her own career. She frequently taught art classes at colleges and went on to establish the first feminist art programs and galleries. In conjunction with Miriam Schapiro, Chicago founded the Women’s Art Program at Fresno State College in 1970. Additionally, she began the all-female art collective, “Womenspace.”

One of Judy Chicago's installations of the Dinner Party between 1974 and 1979
An installation of The Dinner Party

Interestingly, her first piece remains her most famous. The Dinner Party was a multimedia project that included sixteen exhibitions across six nations between 1974 and 1979. Chicago intended to showcase the history of Western women. Her symbology touches on subjugation, sexuality, and social roles and expectations. Since its presentation, the piece became a part of art history and feminist studies. Moreover, it has been replicated and stands tantamount as a timeless installation in Western culture.

Beyond her beginnings, Chicago’s success led to her collections being hosted around the world. She currently has installations throughout America, the UK, and Sweden. Additionally, she is featured in more than 25 art museums housed at universities, including Cornell, Harvard, and UCLA.

As a respected artist, author, and educator, Chicago is the recipient of numerous recognitions. Moreover, she was one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” in 2018. Additionally, she was an Artsy Magazine 2018 “Most Influential Artist.” Moreover, Chicago received the 2019 Visionary Woman Award from the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art.

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Pioneer of Contemporary Feminist Art: Miriam Schapiro

Miriam Schapiro is an outstanding visual artist and feminist.
Miriam Schapiro

Canadian-American artist Miriam Schapiro pioneered feminist art, heavily influencing the Pattern and Decoration movement. She challenged “macho” ideals and “high art” altogether. As an outstanding visual artist, she uses a variety of media to convey the significance of gender construction.

Her formal training began at the Museum of Modern Art and in Works Progress Administration classes. After, she briefly studied at Hunter College. However, her passion drove her to the University of Iowa where she completed her education through a Master of Fine Arts Degree. She also received a Guggenheim Fellowship for Fine Arts. Additionally, she holds Honorary Doctorates from the College of Wooster, the California College of Arts and Crafts, Minneapolis and Design, and Lawrence University.

Heartland by Miriam Schapiro embodies her style of art
Heartland (1985)

While in school, Schapiro studied with Modernists and Abstract Expressionists. Where “high” art relied on painting or sculpture, Schapiro incorporated crafts and “low” art. Her works, though expressive of Abstractionism in use of geometric patterns, incorporate textiles and clothing into paintings and sculptures. This blend of “women’s work” with high art quickly defined her art.

Schapiro truly broke into the art world with Judy Chicago with their establishment of the Feminist Art Program at the California Institute of the Arts. Their installation, Womanhouse, explored gender construction. The piece linked women’s cultural heritage to feminist expression.

Schapiro had numerous solo exhibitions. Moreover, her work continues to be shown at galleries throughout America, including The National Museum of Women in the Arts. Additionally, she held several honors. Her collection includes the Skowhegan Medal for Collage, Honors Awards from the Women’s Caucus for Art, the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, and the New York State NARAL. Moreover, she received the 2002 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Women’s Caucus for Art.

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Outstanding Contemporary Visual Artist: Cao Fei

Cao Fei is an outstanding visual artist breaking ground in China.
Cao Fei

A contemporary artist of China, Cao Fei is making waves. Her work intends to make social commentary through appeal to popular aesthetics, and her media are primarily documentary film and carefully designed installations. As an outstanding visual artist, she brings to the attention of spectators the chaos of change China is experiencing in the new millennium.

Fei holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts. She also held a residency at a lighting factory in the industrial city of Foshan. In school, she studied the use of various media, but she honed in on digital media, photography, and video. Additionally, she immerses herself in the Pop world, including those cultures from China, Japan, and America.

Interestingly, Fei’s interest in art and pop culture led her to anime and COSplay. Her early works, including Whose Utopia (2006), highlighted the alive dream world allowed by these media. Moreover, it showcased the transformation of traditional Chinese culture.

Asia One scene produced by Cao Fei
Scene from Asia One

Her most recent project is Asia One (2018). Commissioned by Guggenheim Museum, it utilizes fictional film and a multimedia installation. For the piece, Fei visited several factories in China that featured advanced techniques for work tasks. As such, she showcases a potential future and examines the impact of technology on people.

Though young, Fei has made her name in the contemporary art world. She has several solo exhibitions. Moreover, she holds several awards and nominations. Fei received the 2006 Chinese Contemporary Art Award for Best Young Artist Award. Later, in 2010, she was nominated for the Future Generation Art Prize and a finalist for the Hugo Boss Prize. By 2016, she won a Best Artist Award and the Piedra de Sal Award at Cuenca Biennale.

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Professional Glassblower and Artist: Katherine Gray

Katherine Gray is an outstanding visual artist who works in glass.
Katherine Gray

Working with glass is tedious, and Katherine Gray tackles it to transform granules and shards into rounded, dreamlike shapes. Much of her work encompasses the ideal glassblower’s goal of uniting beauty with functionality. As an outstanding visual artist, her works bring life into still objects.

Gray holds her art degrees from the Rhode Island School of Design and the Ontario College of Art. Her style relies on techniques of fine glassblowing. Yet, beyond these classic techniques, she designs her pieces to fit together (literally), showcasing the transparent quality inherent in glass.

In addition to being a professional artist who exhibits in galleries and has pieces available for consumption, Gray is also a professor. She is an instructor at her Rhode Island alma mater and an assistant professor at California State University, San Bernardino. In these roles, she teaches not only the fundamentals of technique in her unique medium but also the ability of art to communicate.

"A Rainbow Like You" is a serial piece designed by Katherine Gray.
“A Rainbow Like You”

Gray’s own work intends to impress feeling onto spectators. She infuses many of her collections with earthly elements, like fire and water. Her use of nature inspires much of her work, lending to the “disappearance” leitmotif.

She is also a host and judge on Blown Away, a Canadian television series. Through her connection with the Corning Museum of Glass, where she has many collections displayed, she is able to help fellow artists blossom in the field. On the show, she and guest judges oversee glassblowers design and create their pieces in a competitive format. The winner ultimately hosts a solo exhibition.

Gray also received accolades for her work. Additionally, she holds the Bellevue Art Museum Award of Merit and was nominated for the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award.

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