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The 10 Most Expensive British Living Artists
A closer look 29 Oct 2015

The 10 Most Expensive British Living Artists

Since WWII, New York has become the center of the art world and the turning point for many artist’s international careers ! But next to the big American names, among which are Jeff Koons, Robert Indiana and Richard Prince who hit the headlines every now and then, Europe, and more precisely United Kingdom is not too far behind in terms of visibility on the international scene and auction houses!

The proof is the publication of Artnet top 10 living British artists based on auction results over the last 10 years. Artsper is proposing you to take a close look at them… 


Concrete Cabin, 1994

Peter Doig’s painting entitled Swamped was the one that got the artist the first spot of this top 10 of the most expensive living artists, before Damien Hirst. Demand for his work has not ceased to grow over the last years.
Hist work is influenced by magic realism and represents out of time moments. Inspired by his canoeing memories when growing up in Canada, Peter Doig’s paintings often represent canoes floating on the water in a dreamlike atmosphere.
He is fascinated by wild space and nature, and the relationship between men and nature is a great source of inspiration for this work. He often depicts abandoned places where men are only guests. Though his body of work is not descriptive, since the atmosphere of quiet tranquility of his scenes is generally the main topic.


The hours spin skull, 2008

Damien Hirst was discovered in 1988 at the exhibition he organized for himself and his friends of the Goldsmiths College entitled “Freeze”. Half a century later, Damien Hirst is one of the most famous living artists in the art world. He was exhibited by world-known collector and gallery owner Charles Saatchi in 1992 among the “Young British Artists”. He was awarded with the Turner Prize in 1995.
Damien Hirst’s work tackles the subjects of existence in a rough and spiritual way at the same time. It questions our way to deal with the boundaries between desire and fear, faith and reason, love and hatred. According to the artist, there are four important things in life: love, death, religion and science. At best, those four things can help us find our way through darkness, but they do not always succeed (-said the artist in an interview).


The Great Masturbator, 2006

Born in 1966, Glenn Brown is among the « Young British Artists » discovered by Charles Saatchi largely represented in this top 10. Glenn Brown’s pictorial style is unique since all his paintings, photographs and sculptures are inspired by artworks of other artists that he reinterprets based on reproductions: Auerbach portrait, Fragonard’s paintings, Dali’s nudes or fantasy landscapes by Chris Foss to only name a few. Besides, his technical skills are legendary: his mastery of oil painting competes with classical masters.
From artwork reproductions, Glenn Brown manipulates and modifies the original images to such a point that they end up hardly recognizable. The original image is completely transformed and becomes a new piece: all of a sudden familiar becomes strange and unsettling.


More Felled Trees on Woldgate, 2008

David Hockney is undoubtedly one of the most famous and multidisciplinary artists of his generation.
The use of defined and cold shapes as well as the integration of autobiographical details is characteristic of his style. He starts by taking Polaroid photos of his subjects, or sketch them quickly, and then turns them into smooth and shiny paintings. He started using acrylic painting in 1964 and designing sets mid-70’s (for the Metropolitan Opera of New York for example). At this time, he also begun doing photo collages from Polaroids. Each image is a piece of a whole that looks like a diffracted mirror- this series was inspired by the cubist work of Picasso. Since 1980, he is also integrating new media and technology in his work process and creates multicolor copy prints and abstract computer prints.


Building 1-5, 2013

Antony Gormley is known worldwide for his his installations and his public artworks exploring the relationship of body in space and time. Antony Gormley uses his own body in his work. Recently, he has turned to creating very distinctive cubic shaped silhouettes.


Catarct 3, 1967

Bridget Riley has evolved from impressionism to pointillism before turning to optical phenomena inducing disorienting physical effects on the eye, therefore getting closer to the op art movement.
Since the early 1960’s, her abstract work is based on the exploration of optical effects produced by colors and shapes. Her work draws on a limited vocabulary of geometrical shapes and colors. It questions spectators’ visual perception, hence, their perception of the world.


The holy virgin Mary, 1996

Chris Ofili is another widely acclaimed artist of his generation, who was discovered as a « Young British Artist ». His very colorful and ornamental artworks led him to be awarded with the Turner Prize in 1998 et to represent United Kingdom at 50th Venice Biennial in 2003. His art blurs the lines of sacred, profane, beliefs and popular culture. He resorts to unusual media such as elephant feces, glitter, resin and magazine cut-outs.
His most recent work are full of sensual and biblical reference to the trinity and mythology.


Everyone I ever slept with (1963-1995), 1995

Tracey Emin is another YBA artists along with Glenn Brown and Damien Hirst. Her work is a genuine exploration of her emotional experiences and often called “confession art”: spectators are invited to discover the details of her private life revealed without any sense of shame or decency. Through her work, Tracey Emin unveils herself in all her vulnerability, and creates a very intimate connection of sympathy with the spectator.


Head of J.Y.M. No. 1, 1981

Franck Auberback is often compared to Francis Bacon or Lucien Freud for the impact and originality of his work. He is without a doubt one of the most talented painters of our time. His very distinctive style is based on his impasto technique, that is to say adding up layers over layer of paintings, giving tridimensional effect to his work –which often requires exhibiting it horizontally for the canvas not to fall off the frame. Besides, Franck Auerbach constantly covers up his artwork and works on them over and over.
During more 50 years, he lived in the same flat in Camden Town in London, which became one of his recurrent themes, along with his relatives, such as his wife, who he portrayed many times.


Mother as Mountain (1985)

Today Anish Kapoor is mostly famous for his monumental public installations both conceptually and technically challenging: pieces of flesh made in PVC, concave and convex mirrors attracting and swallowing spectators etc. His work tackles the themes of presence and absence, unveiling and concealment associating architecture, poetry, art and spirituality. For him, sculpture is an experience to live and not the mere representation of a shape.

Numerous international institutions have already acquired some of his works such as the MoMa, or the London Tate Modern.

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