One of the most defining cultures of any generation is that of its art community. In the 1920s, it was the emergence of surrealism, a revolutionary movement that gave outlaws of the bourgeois an outlet to protest through dreamlike depictions of the internal psyche. For the Baby Boomers, it was the pop art movement, in conjunction with the counter culture of America’s youth, which presented a challenge to traditions of fine art by including imagery from popular culture, such as advertising, news and found objects.
As for Generation-Y – the generation described as “civic-minded” – we have made it loud and clear that we reject the attitudes of Baby Boomers and Generation-X. Critics call us “narcissistic” with a “sense of entitlement,” however, some of the most artistic and influential people in history possessed a similar mentality. Millennials have defined themselves as creative, open-minded, and liberal, which is depicted in the art that defines our time.
Below is a list of the ten most elite artists of 2013, individuals who have changed the discourse of our generation with the swipe of a paintbrush, spray of a can, or click of a button.
1. Hebru Brantley
Photo courtesy of Kristie Kahns Photography
This 31-year-old Chicago-based man is one of the most buzzed about artists of 2013. His style derives from graffiti-lad buildings and sneaker-hung telephone poles honoring memories of local legends. He made his debut back in December, when rap superstar Jay Z spent $20,000 on one of his pieces at Art Basel. Again, Jay-Z… $20,000… one piece. This man is a Gen-Y legend.
Photo Courtesy of URNY
Two forces in the highly competitive graffiti scene, artists Mike Baca aka 2ESAE and Fernando Romero aka SKI joined forces to create URNY, a collective with all New York-based artists. URNY is based on the philosophy that creation is often birthed out of destruction, transforming the street graffiti perception into positive urban industrial art. Here at Elite Daily, we are lucky enough to enjoy some of URNY’s art on a daily basis, as our office walls are clad in the artists’ graffiti murals.
3. Alexander Mijares
Photo courtesy of Monochrome Effect
Artist Alex Mijares sees the relationship between the individual and the way their presence alters the overall energy of an environment in a very unique way. This Miami native has a talent for portraying the emotion and vibrant flavor of human beings (mostly women), with a lively blend of colors that come together in a psychedelic, yet elegant style. His paintings bleed with his passion for the wondrous, yet mysterious, settings that bring out the beauty of human interaction.
4. Kenny Scharf
Photo courtesy of Arrested Motion
Scharf’s popular, cartoon-like characters are instantly recognizable anywhere. Getting his start in New York City in the late 1970s, his inspiration draws from that Golden Age in which pop, new wave, graffiti, and the downtown art scene were colliding. Using spray paint as his weapon of choice, you can see some of Scharf’s colorful murals at Miami’s Wynwood Walls or between his studio in PS1 Queens. He’s also partnered with reputable brands such as Zara, Movado, Jack Rogers and Kiehls in product collaborations, so you, too, can afford to own a Kenny Scharf piece!
5. Ron English
Photo courtesy of Ron English’s Popaganda
As one of the most prolific and recognizable artists of today, Ron English has bombed the global landscape with unforgettable images on the street, in museums, in movies, books and television.
English coined the term ‘POPaganda‘ to describe his signature mash-up of high and low cultural touchstones, from superhero mythology to totems of art history, populated with his vast and constantly growing arsenal of original characters, including MC Supersized, the obese fast-food mascot featured in the hit movie “Supersize Me,” and Abraham Obama, the fusion of America’s 16th and 44th Presidents, an image widely discussed in the media as directly impacting the 2008 election. English blends stunning visuals with the bitingly humorous undertones of America’s Premier Pop Iconoclast.
Photo courtesy of The Wynwood Walls
Liqen grew up in the industrial city of Vigo, Spain. He was inspired by the comics he read, and from a young age, graffiti also fascinated him. What influences his work most today is the animal kingdom, nature and creatures from the Earth’s depths. His pseudonym, Liqen, which is a mix between an algae and a fungus, reflects his socio-biological interest in species which, on first view, might seem strange, but contain unique characteristics that allow them to be reborn after lying dormant for centuries.
7. Austyn Weiner
Photo courtesy of Huffington Post
Austyn Weiner grew up in Miami, Florida and is a true product of her environment. Her brilliant works of beaming lines and vibrant color reflect the art deco scene of Ocean Drive and immediately captivate viewers. She utilizes many mediums to deconstruct and reconstruct images as she sees them, including painting, inking, printing, re-shooting the work and then, manipulating them in the final layers. She isn’t shy about using herself as the focus of many of her works, but also features muses of pop culture like Cara Delevingne.
8. Tang Chiew Ling
Photo courtesy of Laughing Squid
Taking inspiration directly from her garden, talented graphic designer Tang Chiew Ling uses leaves to create imaginative fashion figures. The 24-year-old from Malaysia says that the key to her work is making ‘simple and fun’ art that she can conjure up out of everyday objects. The result is an offbeat, but elegant, set of mixed media drawings.
9. Pakpoom Silaphan
Photo courtesy of Dieter Perry
Taking inspiration from artistic icons like Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali, Pakpoom Silaphan primarily uses found objects, such as old metal advertising signs and vintage, wooden Coca-Cola crates collected during his years living in Thailand as his canvas. He then reworks these objects to create a fresh interpretation of pop art and opens a discourse on the effects of advertising and mass consumption.
10. Sally Fuerst
Photo courtesy of Sally Fuerst
Sally Fuerst’s paintings skillfully combine the contemporary with the classical. Inspired by popular culture and appropriating the style of fashion photography, Fuerst meticulously paints images of beautiful and confident women in playful fancy-dress costumes, such as Batman and Robin, or women posing with props, such as rainbows, Mickey Mouse balloons, a space hopper and a giant, inflatable zebra. Fuerst’s approach is cheeky and humorous, but the figures are rendered with such skill and diligence that, from afar, they seem photo-realist.