There are thousands of famous artists and pieces of art in the world today that tell stories, evoke emotions, or simply beg us to consider things a different way. Today, we’re walking through ten contemporary sculpture artists everyone should know.
Why should you know these artists? Exposure to different types of art helps us better understand the sculpture world and, more importantly, ourselves. That’s because art enhances the viewer just as much as it enhances its environment. This list is by no means exhaustive. There are artists everywhere doing amazing things. Open yourself up to the beauty of different sculptors and you’ll discover art around every corner.
1. Jeff Koons
Jeff Koons is an American artist whose sculptures showcase items from everyday life. He caused some controversy when he revealed his work has no deeper meaning – they exist purely to look good. Whether you love him or hate him, you can’t deny how his pieces force you to consider the beauty of the things you encounter in normal life.
“Art is a humanitarian act. Art should be able to effect mankind, to make the world a better place.” – Jeff Koons
2. Antony Gormley
Sir Gormley is a British sculptor who is most well-known for using human forms in his work. He accomplishes these shapes most often using casts of his own body. His pieces are said to be about space and each one interacts with its environment in some way.
“Art is the means by which we communicate what it feels like to be alive…. Making beautiful things for everyday use is a wonderful thing to do – making life flow more easily – but art confronts life, allowing it to stop and perhaps change direction – they are completely different.” – Antony Gormley
3. Jaume Plensa
Jaume Plensa is an artist and sculptor from Barcelona, Spain. Though he is mainly known for his large-scale ethereal sculptures, Plensa has worked with a very diverse array of media, ranging from video projections to acoustic installations. Most of his busts have their eyes closed, hinting at how the artist manages to connect the inner self to the outer world. As an avid reader, Plensa is also heavily inspired by literature and poetry. He pays tribute to his love of literature by introducing language and words into his work.
“A fountain is the memory of nature, this marvelous sound of a little river in the mountains translated to the city. For me, a fountain doesn’t mean a big jet of water. It means humidity, the origin of life.” – Jaume Plensa
4. Ai Weiwei
Ai Weiwei is a Chinese contemporary artist as well as a political activist. Much of his work is inspired by his own experiences and beliefs as the son of a political exile, creating moving, powerful pieces that challenge authority.
“Your own acts tell the world who you are and what kind of society you think it should be.” – Ai Weiwei
5. Damien Hirst
An extremely popular English artist, Damien Hirst’s work typically deals with the themes of life and death. He is not without some controversy, as he is also known for not creating his own work. Instead, he employs a large group of assistants to help bring his visions to life.
“I have always been aware that you have to get people listening before you can change their minds. Any artist’s big fear is being ignored, so if you get debate, that’s great.” – Damien Hirst
6. Anish Kapoor
Sir Kapoor is a popular British-Indian artist whose large-scale sculpture installations feature geometric and nature-inspired structures. He has something no artist in the world has: exclusive rights to the color Vantablack S-VIS, also known as the blackest color. You may know his work entitled Cloud Gate in Chicago, colloquially known as The Bean.
“Artists don’t make objects. Artists make mythologies.” – Anish Kapoor
7. Louise Bourgeois
A French American artist, Louise Bourgeois created larger-than-life sculptures usually inspired by the memories she had of her tumultuous childhood. Although she passed away in 2010, her work and her imprint on the contemporary art world remain. She was also a painter and printmaker, making many pieces throughout her life.
“Every day you have to abandon your past or accept it, and then, if you cannot accept it, you become a sculptor.” – Louise Bourgeois
8. Yayoi Kusama
Yayoi Kusama’s work usually features polka dots, infinity installations, or a mixture of both. Her obsession with dots is inspired by a hallucination she had when she was young that made her feel as if she were disappearing into a field of dots. This experience heavily influences her work as she creates pieces you feel you can disappear into.
“Our earth is only one polka dot among a million stars in the cosmos. Polka dots are a way to infinity. When we obliterate nature and our bodies with polka dots, we become part of the unity of our environment.” – Yayoi Kusama
9. Richard Serra
Considered an immensely influential artist, American-born Richard Serra transforms spaces with his site-specific sculptures. His pieces force you to engage with the physicality of the art and its environment. Overall, each of his pieces offer a unique experience for every viewer.
“I consider space to be a material. The articulation of space has come to take precedence over other concerns. I attempt to use sculptural form to make space distinct.” – Richard Serra
10. Daniel Popper
Daniel Popper is a multimedia artist from South Africa known for larger-than-life sculptures and public installations. Most of his works feature human forms interacting with natural elements, but some also involve music and lights (often at popular music festivals). A fan of collaboration, he loves working with other artists to create his fantastical pieces.
At IKTAM, we strive to create compelling sculptures and make them accessible to more people. Just like the artists in this list craft pieces that tell a story or elicit an emotion, we ask that you choose the ITKAM that speaks most to you. Inspired by civilizations throughout the world, our ITKAMs transform their environment and reflect its true essence. Discover your IKTAM today.