The Top 20 Artists from the 21st Century

In the first half of 2022, their auction sales totaled $247 million and 40% of them were women

Top 16 21st Century Artists

It’s no secret that the current art market is beguiled by young artists who have emerged in the 21st Century. With that in mind, we looked at the data for the first half of 2022 and pulled out of the list of the top artists by auction sales volume a smaller list of artists whose work came to market this century. We ended up with a list of 20 names that total a little more than $247 million in sales. 

Eight out of 20 of the top 21st Century artists on the list are women which suggests market equity may be working its way through the system however slowly. Two of the artists are African and two are Asian, hardly representative but still moving in the direction of inclusion. 

To put the $247 million  in context, the overall auction sales for the first half of 2022 was $5.6 billion. So these 20 artists account for less than 5% of the art market total. (The exact figure is 4.8%.)

That 4.8% might sound small but it still represents a lot of money. For example, Banksy sold $41.8 million worth of art at auction in just the first six months of 2022. To make that even more impressive, his average lot value was on the low end of the scale at $286,977. That makes sense when you consider that Banksy made a lot of work and much of it was in the form of editions. Adrian Ghenie is the opposite. His auction total was $30.75 million with an average lot value of $3.4 million. 

Shara Hughes comes next. She sold $25 million worth of art. The average price of her brightly colored landscapes and interiors was $677,178. Just behind her was Cecily Brown whose work first appeared at the end of the last century. Her market momentum has built over the last few years. The $23 million spent on her abstract works might even be seen as a slight slowdown in sales which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing for her market. Her average price was a robust $1.77 million.

Matthew Wong died in 2019. His secondary market exploded not long after that. So far this year, $21.3 million was exchanged for his works with an average price of $2.13 million. Shuttling back to the other end of the spectrum, Ayako Rokkaku averaged only $209,474 per work but enough was sold to pile up to $15.9 million. 

Flora Yuknovich became a high-value artist at auction very quickly over the last year. $12.68 million was spent on her art at an average price of $975,894. Nicolas Party saw $9.4 million in sales at an average price of $278,601. Avery Singer’s total was $9.17 million at an average of $1.3 million per work. Liu Ye was almost the same with $9.15 million in sales but the average selling price was half of Singer at $762,750.

Hurvin Anderson is another artist who emerged at the very late end of the 20th Century but his work sold during this one. This year, $8.5 million was sold at an average of $852,777. (Yes, that means ten works sold.) Just behind him are two more recently minted art stars. Amoako Boafo watched $8.29 million of his art sell for $691,000 per work. Javier Calleja rang up $8.23 million at an average of $205,779.

Aboudia has been selling a lot of art through auction houses. The works that were auctioned, instead of sold privately, totaled $8.04 million with one of the lowest average lot values at $167,435. Maria Berrio was the darling of the Spring season. Auction houses sold $7.5 million of her work at an average of $946,631 per sale. Edgar Plans has a more global reach but a lot of his sales take place in Hong Kong. The auction houses racked up $7.49 million in sales at $108,596.

Jonas Wood is 108 on the list of all artists by sales in the first half of 2022. But he’s 17th among 21st Century artists with $6.5 million in total but at an average price of $191,181. New market star Anna Weyant comes in just behind Wood with $6.45 million in sales at a $587,266 average price. 

Finally, Hilary Pecis and Christina Quarles round out the list. Pecis sold $5.84 million at a $417,339 average price; Quarles sold $5.59 million with an average price of $1.86 million because one of the works made an astonishing $4.5 million. 

These are big numbers for artists who are quite recent in vintage.

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