50 Under 50: The Next Most Collectible Artists
Last year we set out on what some might call a fool's errand by selecting the 50 most collectible living artists. Hoping to elevate this sort of list-making beyond a parlor game, we defined the parameters and embarked on research to find those artists who have a proven record in the market and also show promise of the continuing innovation and devotlon to craft that will warrant attention for decades to come. The result was a list that peered beyond the headllnes.
A year is no time at all in the long game that is serious collecting. For this second outing we decided to add to the challenge by focusing on artists under the age of 50. For such a group, auction stats can be errat1c, and artists may just be addlng a major museum solo to their exhibition history.
But what follows is not an emerglng artist list in the style of many art magazines, naming favorites from the latest MFA graduating class. Most names will be familiar to readers from years of gallery shows and even awards. The vast majority among the final selectlons are in their 30s, because the reality is that artists are still coming into thelr practice through their 20s, and only after that begin to build a committed collector base. Readers will also note the preponderance of painters. In the discussions during which we bashed out the list, two reasons for this emerged. First, there is a genuine resurgence of nonrepresentational painting as artists under 50 reexamine that key modernist pursuit. Second, collectors perennnally favor painting because it is understandable within an established tradition and is comparably easy to display and conserve.
Diversity is the other big trend seen in this list, in terms of geography as well as in the individual artists practices. The language of contemporary art is global and collectors are increaslngly interested in seeing differences in dialogue. Today artists may be born in the Middle East, live in Europe and sell to collectors in Asia and America, and our list reflects that ubiquitous internationalism. Just as pervasive, it seems, is the desire among artists to operate free of the constraints of medium. Even as recent years have seen a return to a focus on craft and the object and, sometimes, beauty, it seems that the ultimate trlumph of Conceptualism has come in the form of younger generations who embrace the artist’s role as that of universal creator. Photographers sculpt, sculptors brldge the divide between two and three dimensions, and painters make films. lnnovation is everywhere.
Born in Cape Town, Berlinbased Rhode "is unusual in that he has a profile on all continents," says dealer David Maupin, who picked up the 37-year-old multimedia artist last year. (he is also represented by Stevenson Gallery, in South Africa, White Cube in London, and L&M Arts, in Los Angeles.) Rhode is currenlty the subject of a solo show at Melbourne's National Gallery of Victoria. His multipanel photos that document street-based performances have nearly doubled in price over five years, costing upwards of $160,000. His auction record, set at Sotheby's in November, is a bit lower: $92,500 for Street Gym, an 18-panel photograph. Rhode's sculptures, animations, and videos, many of which comment on colonialism and class, have appreciated less quickly. Sculptures currently hover around $98,000, and videos, which also chronicle his performances, cost $46,000. "I Think his early videos are very powerful and will be seen as key works," asserts art adviser Wendy Cromwell.