Advertisement
Art

How 9 Artsy Vanguard Alumni Have Become Leading Contemporary Artists

The Artsy Vanguard is our annual feature on the artists to know right now, spotlighting early-career artists on the rise. Each year, the list is carefully curated by Artsy Editorial, drawing from hundreds of nominations from art world insiders, curators, collectors, galleries, and artists.
Ahead of the fourth edition of The Artsy Vanguard, which launches December 1st, we’re taking a look at nine of the artists featured in past editions. Below, we offer a glimpse into these artists’ practices and career milestones, demonstrating how they have gone on to become leading figures in contemporary art since being featured in The Artsy Vanguard.

B. 1995, Atlanta. Lives and works in New York.

The Artsy Vanguard 2018

About the artist:
Since finishing his undergraduate studies at New York University in 2017, Tyler Mitchell has risen to the forefront of contemporary photography. His photographs and films convey experiences of Black joy and utopia in the United States. The young Black subjects in his intimate, ethereal portraits are immersed in bold, saturated color as they hula-hoop, fly kites, dance, or lounge in parks.

Career highlights after The Artsy Vanguard 2018:
Named a “Breakout Talent” in The Artsy Vanguard 2018, Mitchell went on to make history later that year as the first Black photographer to shoot a cover of American Vogue; his image of Beyoncé was featured on the magazine’s September 2018 issue. Then, in 2019, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery acquired one of Mitchell’s portraits of Beyoncé from the issue for its permanent collection. The acquisition coincided with the artist’s first-ever solo exhibition, held at Foam Fotografiemuseum in Amsterdam. Titled “I Can Make You Feel Good,” the show presented a suite of new photographic and video works by Mitchell, including his film Idyllic Space (2019). Mitchell was also featured in Forbes’s 2019 “30 Under 30” list and in Antwaun Sargent’s acclaimed photo book The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion, which was published by Aperture in October 2019 and also realized as an exhibition in New York and Arles.
In September 2020, Mitchell gained representation with Jack Shainman Gallery, and in October of the same year, a new iteration of his debut solo show opened at the International Center of Photography in New York. Also in 2020, Mitchell received a Gordon Parks Fellowship, which culminated in a new project by the artist that is currently on view in a solo exhibition, through January 2022, at the Gordon Parks Foundation Gallery in Pleasantville, New York. This past fall, Mitchell held his first solo show with Jack Shainman, which spanned the New York gallery’s two Chelsea locations.

B. 1985, Chicago. Lives and works in Los Angeles.

The Artsy Vanguard 2018

About the artist:
Shaped by her daily experiences as a queer, cisgender, biracial woman, Christina Quarles imbues her acrylic canvases with a sense of ambiguity. A Yale MFA grad, Quarles creates figurative paintings that are anything but predictable, portraying entwined and fragmented bodies moving through colorful and dazzling abstract backgrounds. Rich with narrative, Quarles’s works are deft reflections on sexual and racial identity.

Career highlights after The Artsy Vanguard 2018:
In summer 2018, Quarles was a breakout star of the Hammer Museum’s “Made in L.A.” biennial. That fall, she presented her first U.K. solo show with Pilar Corrias Gallery in London, as well as a solo show at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.
In November 2018, the artist’s work made its first secondary-market appearance, and in 2019, she was the recipient of Pérez Art Museum Miami’s inaugural eponymous prize. Yet 2021 appears to be the Chicago-born artist’s biggest yet. This past May, the top-tier global gallery Hauser & Wirth announced its representation of Quarles, in collaboration with Pilar Corrias. The artist was also the focus of three institutional solo shows: The first, at Beijing’s X Museum, was Quarles’s second solo institutional exhibition in Asia; that was followed by the most extensive presentation of her work to date at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, as well as a solo show at South London Gallery. In 2022, Quarles will open a solo show at Seattle’s Frye Museum and at Hauser & Wirth’s New York location.

B. 1982, San Bernardino, California. Lives and works in Los Angeles.

The Artsy Vanguard 2018

About the artist:
Through his use of mirrors, drapes, and collage, Paul Mpagi Sepuya toys with perspective in photographs that offer fresh approaches to portraiture and the role of the studio. The Los Angeles–based artist focuses on capturing the people within his queer community, often in the nude or semi-nude. The subjects in Sepuya’s compositions, whether they be models, lovers, friends, or the artist himself, place an emphasis on the power dynamics between the artist and sitter in photography.

Career highlights after The Artsy Vanguard 2018:
In September 2018, Sepuya opened a solo show in Amsterdam at Foam Fotografiemuseum. In January 2019, Sepuya joined Vielmetter Los Angeles’s roster, alongside Document Gallery. Four months later, Sepuya opened his first major museum survey at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, which resulted in the publication of his first monograph. Curated by Wassan Al-Khudhairi, the survey then traveled to the Blaffer Art Museum in Houston. The institutional show also coincided with Sepuya’s participation in the 2019 Whitney Biennial. That same year, Sepuya won a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation grant and took part in the prestigious Rauschenberg Residency on Captiva Island.
In 2020, Sepuya’s work was exhibited in four solo shows across Europe and the U.S., at Vielmetter, Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Modern Art, and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. Thus far in 2021, the artist has made strides on the secondary market, won an Artadia Award, and exhibited two billboards of his work as part of the Hamilton Public Art Project at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, which are currently on view. In 2022, he has solo shows planned with Vielmetter, Bortolami Gallery, and New York’s Alice Austen House Museum.

B. 1984, Lexington, Kentucky. Lives and works in New York.

The Artsy Vanguard 2018

About the artist:
At the root of Allison Janae Hamilton’s practice—which spans sculpture, installation, photography, and video—are reflections on the vulnerable and rustic landscapes of the American South. Through her works, which center the natural world as protagonist, Hamilton aims to address sustainability and the ongoing climate crisis.

Career highlights after The Artsy Vanguard 2018:
At the time of her feature in The Artsy Vanguard 2018, Hamilton was presenting a solo show at MASS MoCA. In the months that followed, she opened another at Atlanta Contemporary, and was included in a group show at Storm King Art Center. She also took part in the Studio Museum in Harlem’s prestigious artist-in-residence program that year, and the following year, she presented her work at MoMA PS1 and in a two-person show at Marianne Boesky Gallery, curated by . Also in 2019, she received a Creative Capital Award; her work entered the secondary market; and in November, she joined Marianne Boesky’s roster. In 2020, Hamilton was featured in nearly a dozen group shows at galleries and institutions from Miami to Shanghai, and held an online solo show with Marianne Boesky.
This past March, Hamilton opened her first in-person solo show at Marianne Boesky’s New York space. The show, titled “A Romance of Paradise,” marked the gallery’s first carbon-conscious exhibition. At the same time, Hamilton broadcasted her video work Wacissa (2019) on the billboards of Times Square as part of Times Square Arts’s ongoing digital exhibition “Midnight Moment.” Her work is now a part of many esteemed private and public collections, including the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Menil Collection, and the Nasher Museum of Art.

B. 1974, Memphis. Lives and works in New York.

The Artsy Vanguard 2019

About the artist:
Derek Fordjour creates heavily layered paintings that are often populated by uniformed figures such as cheerleaders, marching bands, and athletes. The colorful paintings, methodically built up with newspaper and cardboard, are celebratory as they evoke the cultural rituals and communal rites of passage of the Black community.

Career highlights after The Artsy Vanguard 2019:
In October 2019, Fordjour opened his first U.K. solo show at Josh Lilley in London. In January 2020, Fordjour’s first full-scale solo museum exhibition opened at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. This was followed by his first solo show with Petzel Gallery in New York, which included a dynamic puppet show experience titled Fly Away (2020); Petzel announced its representation of the artist in spring 2019. In 2020, Fordjour served as the Cooper Union’s Alex Katz Chair of Painting. That year, his work set new records on the secondary market.
In February 2021, David Kordansky Gallery announced its representation of Fordjour, in collaboration with Petzel. Three months later, the artist’s work made its debut in Asia with a solo exhibition, “Gestalt,” at Shanghai’s Pond Society, where Fordjour presented six new paintings that continue his investigation into community-occupied spaces. Also in 2021, the artist has been featured in group shows at the Brooklyn Museum and the Columbus Museum of Art.
The demand for Fordjour’s work on the primary market has accelerated this year. At September’s edition of Art Basel in Basel, David Kordanksy sold a large-scale canvas of competitive swimmers in hot-pink bathing suits, Open Swim (2021), to a North American institution.

B. 1985, New York. Lives and works in New York

The Artsy Vanguard 2019

About the artist:
Jordan Nassar derives the hand-embroidered geometric patterns found in his works from the traditional craft techniques of his ancestral homeland of Palestine. The intricately stretched and framed textile works, which are made in collaboration with female weavers in the West Bank, depict the idyllic scenery of Palestine in muted tones and bold primary colors.

Career highlights after The Artsy Vanguard 2019:
Shortly after his inclusion in The Artsy Vanguard 2019, Nassar joined the artist roster of James Cohan, in collaboration with Anat Ebgi. The artist’s stitched cotton works were then included in a major permanent-collection exhibition at the Whitney Museum, “Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019”; he also presented a solo show at the Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv. In 2020, Nassar was featured in Asia Society’s triennial, as well as three solo exhibitions—including his first at James Cohan’s New York outpost, and another at the KMAC Museum in Louisville, Kentucky.
In 2021, Nassar is slated for his first exhibition in Asia at Seoul’s Kukje Gallery. And next summer, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, will present a selection of Nassar’s embroidered and mixed-media works in a solo exhibition. In addition to the Whitney, Nassar’s work is included in major public collections including the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

B. 1977, Seoul. Lives and works in Seoul.

The Artsy Vanguard 2019

About the artist:
In her research-driven practice, Suki Seokyeong Kang incorporates the visual structure of the grid into her abstract sculptures made from found materials. The grid, used in traditional Korean musical notation as a spatial and social structuring device, is employed in her work as a way to investigate the notion of space in relation to an individual’s power in society.
Career highlights after The Artsy Vanguard 2019:
In 2019, Kang’s work was included in the Ralph Rugoff–curated international exhibition at the 58th Venice Biennale, where she showcased textile-based sculptures based on the proportions of her own body. In the following months, Kang presented two new sculptures for a solo exhibition at Mudam Luxembourg, which was in commemoration of her receipt of the Baloise Art Prize in 2018, and held a solo show at the Buk-Seoul Museum of Modern Art. Kang also gained representation with the Los Angeles–based gallery Commonwealth and Council, in collaboration with Tina Kim Gallery and Kukje Gallery; she held a solo show at Commonwealth and Council in January 2020. In 2021, she opened a solo show at Winsing Art Place in Taipei, and was included in a group show at Pace Gallery. Kang’s works are currently in the permanent collections of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in South Korea, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, and the Buk-Seoul Museum of Art.

B. 1986, Sarpsborg, Norway. Lives and works in Oslo.

The Artsy Vanguard 2020

About the artist:
For her physical and digital collages of anonymous Black women, Nigerian Norwegian artist Frida Orupabo combs through her personal archive, early movie stills, and the news to challenge the viewer’s voyeuristic gaze of her subjects’s body.

Career highlights after The Artsy Vanguard 2020:
In 2020, Orupabo was shortlisted for the sixth edition of the Future Generation Art Prize. As a result of this prestigious recognition, new works by the artist are currently being presented in a sprawling group exhibition at Kiev’s Pinchuk Art Centre through late February 2022, before traveling to Venice to be shown in time with the Biennale. The artist is also currently participating in the 34th São Paulo Bienal, where she is exhibiting new digital collages in a solo show at the Museu Afro Brasil, which closes on December 5th. Orupabo is the focus of another solo exhibition, “How did you feel when you come out of the wilderness,” at Norway’s Kunsthall Trondheim, which consists of new works focused on bringing together fragmented counternarratives.
In addition to her expansive institutional shows this year, Orupabo joined Stevenson’s artist roster, in collaboration with Galerie Nordenhake. And next year, the artist already has four solo and group exhibitions lined up: at Nicola Vassell Gallery, Galerie Nordenhake, Fotomuseum Winterthur, and Stevenson.

B. 1993, United Kingdom. Lives and works in London.

The Artsy Vanguard 2020

About the artist:
A 2017 graduate of the Royal College of Art, British painter Jadé Fadojutimi conjures various emotions in her vibrantly colored abstractions as she explores identity and the notion of the “self” through explosive lines of color and slapdash brushstrokes. The artist’s large-scale, layered compositions stretch the limits of figuration as gestural marks can transform into limbs and pieces of clothing.

Career highlights after The Artsy Vanguard 2020:
Fadojutimi made major strides in 2020: First, at the age of 27, she became the youngest artist to have her work acquired by the Tate, and then, the artist held her first solo exhibition with Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, which has represented her since 2017. Fadojutimi’s work also made its first appearance on the secondary market that year.
Fadojutimi’s practice has continued to attract attention in 2021. In August, the artist was named one of British Vogue’s 25 most influential women alongside Meghan Markle, , and FKA Twigs, among others. This past October, during Frieze Week, the artist’s auction record was broken three times across two days. On November 30th, Fadojutimi is slated to open her first solo museum presentation at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, which will feature a series of new large-scale paintings. In 2022, Fadojutimi will hold two more solo exhibitions—at the Hepworth Wakefield in Yorkshire, and the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin.
Kaylie Felsberg