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With the rise of Instagram, both up-and-coming and well-established names from around the globe are utilising the instantaneous nature of the medium to showcase their work. From prolific contemporary artists in China and cutting-edge street graffitists in South Africa to graphic typographers from New York, here is a list of the top 12 artists on Instagram that every art lover needs to follow.
Already a household name in the contemporary art world, Ai Weiwei’s Instagram lives up to the notorious artist’s reputation. Known for pushing the boundaries of censorship in China, Ai Weiwei’s profile consists of portraits of people he meets every day, from family members to political figures. His Instagram lifts the lid on contemporary life in China, revealing his activism in promoting free speech. He is also a fan of the ‘selfie’, with his profile dotted with amusing self-portraits.
Los-Angeles based artist Gary Baseman explores a variety of media in his art practise, from painting to animation to fashion. His Instagram consists of snapshots of works in progress and completed abstract compositions. His feed also shines a light on his personal life, with more candid photographs showing his day to day life of meeting with collaborators, such as Shepard Fairey, to more personal pictures of Californian life. For an unusual and colourful daily dose of art, this is one to follow.
‘Life and art are inseparable’ according to Polish artist Olek‘s Instagram and this is certainly revealed through her many snapshots of her unique works. Known for her zany crocheted pieces both on a small and large scale, Olek’s Instagram reveals the method behind the colourful madness. Her work is inspired from her daily life in New York, from films she watches to text messages she receives and to people she meets, Olek aims to crochet a story about each of them. Her Instagram provides an intriguing insight into this contemporary artist’s unique world.
José Parlá documents city life through his calligraphic works and large scale installations. His Instagram reveals the origin of his artworks, with snapshots of city scenes juxtaposed with pictures of his abstract paintings. The chaos of city life is realised in his canvases, and his Instagram often shows the artist at work, with studio and action shots scattered across his social media profile. The influence of street art and graffiti is also evident in his work and from his Instagram. A diverse and innovative artist, this is one Instagrammer to keep an eye on.
Born in Nigeria, Toyin Odutola has been making waves in the contemporary art scene with her poignant though-provoking drawings. Using pen ink, acrylic paint, markers and charcoal, Toyin creates artworks that analyse the idea of skin colour, portraiture and place. Her Instagram shows her drawings being created as well as famous artworks and daily scenes that give her ideas.
The Pennsylvania-based artist Adam Wallacavage describes himself as a ‘chandelier maker and a photographist extraordinaire’. His Instagram certainly lives up to these titles, with his profile dotted with photographs of his bizarre light fittings of tentacles to ever more absurd pictures of everyday objects. His chandelier works have been featured in many famous publications such as The New York Times and TIME Magazine. For a surreal twist to your Instagram feed, Adam is definitely worth following.
Growing up within the skate and surf culture of Virginia Beach in Virginia, Ryan McGinness moved to New York, where he now produces his typographical drawings. Drawing on everyday signage, brand logos and contemporary iconography, Ryan has created graphic works that question the idea of language and personal expression. His works can be seen around the world, from the Museum of Modern Art in New York to the Misumi Collection in Japan. His Instagram feed consists of black buttons with changing white text comprised of amusing and acerbic combinations of words.
The British street artist D*Face, aka Dean Stockton, is renowned for his use of a wide variety of media in his graphic works. His Instagram is a portfolio of his large scale street art pieces, smaller provocative prints and pictures of his day to day life. His feed shows his works from their genesis to their completion, revealing the methods and making of contemporary street art. For a slice of urban art, D*Face is one to watch on Instagram.
The street artist Faith47 from South Africa is famous for her varied approach to her art, and for her rousing artworks. Her art practise often utilises found objects, aged city walls and intimate canvases. Her resulting artworks explore themes of identity, politics and relationships with space. Her works can be viewed around the world, from London to Vienna. Her creative flare spills over onto her Instagram profile, with each of her posts carefully composed, they could be considered artworks in their own right. Her photographs are as varied as her artworks, revealing the creative genius of this Cape Town artist.
JR turns the streets of various international cities into the biggest art gallery in the world. Often working on a grand scale, his work has sometimes caused controversy, such as his 2006 exhibition Portrait of a Generation, where depictions of ‘thugs’ were posted around bourgeois districts of Paris. Even more notorious was his 2007 project Face 2 Face, whereby the artist plastered larger than life portraits of Israelis and Palestinians facing each other on both sides of the Separation Wall. His work aims to raise questions about the politics and conditions of today’s world. His Instagram is just as prolific as the artist, with each picture just as thought-provoking as his artworks.
The name Jill Greenberg is already well known in the world of contemporary photography. Specialising in portraiture, Jill’s works are often hyper-realistic depictions of celebrities, ordinary people and animals. Her many photographic series have been critically acclaimed but have also caused controversy, such as her 2011 Glass Ceiling series of professional swimmers underwater, and 2006 project End Times which consisted of intimate portraits of crying children. Her Instagram is a mixture of her photographic works, as well as snapshots of her day to day life.
For those who love photography and architecture, Zaruhy Sangochian is one to follow. Her Instagram is a collection of snapshots from her daily life as well as beautiful photographs of architectural designs that catch her eye. Living in Mexico City, Zaruhy captures the beauty of the urban landscape and interior design.