(Quick note: generally whenever I use images in this blog, they are all pictures that I’ve taken and own the copyright to. Obviously I don’t own the images in this post, but I do list sources for them and, when applicable, websites for the artists. The cover painting for this post is Portrait of James Hamilton, Earl of Arran by Kehinde Wiley, which can be found here.)
I love art, I love art museums, and I love finding new artists to follow. Below is a list of some of my current favorites, all of whom are contemporary working artists except for one.
Kehinde Wiley has been making well-deserved headlines lately, since Barack Obama chose him to paint his presidential portrait, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I discovered Kehinde Wiley several years ago by his re-imagining of Judith and Holofernes, which hangs in the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, my old stomping grounds. The NCMA is a great museum in general, but I literally stopped in my tracks when we got to Wiley’s painting. There is something I love in the combination of his hyper-realistic portraits and brightly colored patterned backgrounds that I haven’t seen from any other artist (although his works do remind me a bit of this Vincent Van Gogh painting, which I also love). He also provides a fresh take on many existing artworks, like the aforementioned Judith and Holofernes and the famous portrait of Napoleon.
You can find his website here.
Monica Martino is an artist living in Georgia who makes all sorts of hilarious, clever products like t-shirts, mugs, and paintings, all designed and drawn by her. Basically, she does what Urban Outfitters does, but better, and as a small business. I have several friends who have bought things from her Etsy shop and been thrilled with them, and they make fantastic gifts, in case you have anyone in your life that you’re still stumped on what to get them for Christmas. Anyway, seeing her stuff always makes me laugh, and I have a bunch of things bookmarked on her Etsy page for future purchases.
You can find her Etsy shop here.
Ester Hernandez is another artist I discovered via the North Carolina Museum of Art (no, really, it’s wonderful! go visit if you’re in the area!), where her painting La Ofrenda was part of a special exhibition of Chicanx artists. Her work is part of permanent collections in the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, and Stanford, and she also has permanent collections in Mexico City and London.
You can find her website here.
Clare Caufield is a British artist who does dynamic, dreamlike drawings and paintings of city scenes. I found her while obsessively poring over Etsy, looking for art of my favorite cities. It turns out that she has her own website as well where she posts her galleries, exhibitions, and art she has for sale.
You can find her website here. All images were taken from her website.
Okay, hear me out. This one is obviously different from the other artists on the list because he’s both 1) dead and 2) super famous and firmly canonized. But I think he’s worth putting on here because I didn’t really know much about his work until recently. The only painting of his I knew was The Kiss, which honestly, is not my favorite work of art ever. Maybe it’s been ruined for me because it’s so ubiquitous, and I associate it with, like, college dorm room posters and notebooks and stuff. (But a lot of Van Gogh and Monet stuff fits into that description as well, and I still like them, so maybe not.)
Then I went to Vienna, Klimt’s hometown, in the summer of 2016, and it turns out that he’s actually a really amazing artist. (Who could have guessed, right?) His work was everywhere you turned in Vienna and so much of it was more interesting than The Kiss. He’s worth looking into more if you don’t know much about him.
I don’t have a website where you can buy his stuff (obviously), but I do recommend that you check out the movie Woman in Gold, about one of his paintings that was stolen by the Nazis and starring Helen Mirren, based on a true story.
Hayv Kahraman is an Iraqi painter, illustrator, and sculptor who is based in Los Angeles. I honestly don’t know much about her outside of her art, but her work seems to focus mainly on women and the Iraqi diaspora, and is both wonderful and, at times, harrowing. She’s getting lots of attention both within the art world and from more mainstream media outlets, so she’s someone to watch for sure.
You can find her website here.
Ingrid Vermeer is a Dutch artists who I found on… wait for it… Instagram. She did a project where she drew portraits of people on Post-It notes every day for a year, and then switched to 100 days of drawing on found objects. It doesn’t look like her stuff is available for order online, but I really enjoy following her. Her art is just… fun.