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Artsy Insider: The Most In-Demand Artists of 2021’s Second Quarter

Benjamin Sutton
Jul 25, 2021 3:00PM

By order of appearance: Oh de Laval, What cannot be said will be wept, 2021. Courtesy of Unit London. Szabolcs Bozó, C.XL.004, 2019. Courtesy of Louis 21. Claire Tabouret, The Grip, 2018. Courtesy of Almine Rech. Hideaki Kawashima, green, 2014. Courtesy of Tomio Koyama Gallery.

Welcome to Artsy Insider. This week, I’m charting the rise of the artists whose work saw the biggest surges in demand on Artsy during the second quarter of 2021, sharing a collection of their works, and then looking more closely at two trending artists at very different stages in their careers.

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By the Numbers

Artists with Major Collector Interest in the Second Quarter

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The chart above shows the 10 artists who had the biggest increases in the number of users inquiring about their work on Artsy from the first quarter of 2021 to the second. Foremost among them is the London-based Hungarian artist Szabolcs Bozó, who has swiftly made a name for himself with childlike paintings of cartoonish animals and other characters. Bozó had his first solo show in 2020; by year’s end, he’d had two more. He also made his Artsy debut last year, and now, just over halfway through 2021, the number of collectors who’ve inquired about his work on the platform has nearly tripled last year’s total. Demand on Artsy for Los Angeles–based French painter Claire Tabouret has risen in tandem with her runaway secondary market; in May, her painting Les débutantes (bleu azur) (2014) sold for $870,000—nearly triple its high estimate—at a Christie’s sale in New York, setting a new auction record for her work.


Collection

The Most In-Demand Artists on Artsy during Q2 2021

From left to right: Aaron Johnson, And Sometimes Birds, 2021. Courtesy of Almine Rech. Yoshitomo Nara, Real One, 2020. Courtesy of 3 White Dots. Derrick Adams, Interior Life (Woman), 2019. Courtesy of Michael Steinberg Fine Art.

This week, Artsy’s Curatorial team brings together works from some of the most in-demand artists on the platform during the second quarter of 2021. Browse a selection of highlights from these artists, including works by Takashi Murakami, Szabolcs Bozó, and Prince Gyasi.

Explore the full collection on Artsy.


This Week

Figurative Painting Continues to Surge

Of the 10 artists who had the biggest surges in demand on Artsy in the second quarter of 2021, eight are best known for their figurative paintings, suggesting that collector appetite for the genre remains ravenous. Two people practicing very different brands of figuration are the Japanese artist Hideaki Kawashima and the Polish Thai artist Oh de Laval. Whereas Kawashima’s paintings typically feature muted palettes and detailed brushwork, Oh de Laval’s canvases are riotously colorful and gestural affairs.

Kawashima began his rise to prominence in 2001, when his work was included in an exhibition at Tokyo’s Tomio Koyama Gallery curated by Yoshitomo Nara. His work, characterized by portraits of androgynous figures with exaggerated, finely rendered features like large eyes and elongated necks, has at times been likened to that of his countrymen Nara and Takashi Murakami. But unlike their riffs on pop culture and kawaii iconography, Kawashima’s characters are strictly rooted in his own imagination. Over the next four years, he had his first two solo shows (with Tomio Koyama Gallery), and in 2006, his work debuted at auction. The following year, his painting of a ghostly female figure Grumble (2004) sold for $58,600 at a Christie’s day sale in New York, setting an auction record for his work, which still stands.

But in the ensuing years, demand for Kawashima’s work began to flag. During one stretch from late 2011 to fall 2012, 10 consecutive works of his that were offered at auction failed to sell. In 2014, the record-setting painting Grumble returned to the auction block, but sold for less than a quarter of its 2007 price. But over the past year, things have started to turn around. In March, his 2001 painting Go Ahead sold for $43,750—more than seven times its high estimate—at a Christie’s sale. On Artsy, interest in Kawashima’s work began to take off in 2020, with the number of collectors inquiring about his work increasing nearly fourfold year over year; 2021 is on track to be his biggest year on the platform.

Oh de Laval’s rise has been far more sudden. The London-based painter came to widespread attention in 2020, when she created the cover artwork for pop musician Kali Uchis’s EP To Feel Alive—which was promptly censored by Spotify. Her work first appeared on Artsy last year and immediately caught the attention of many collectors; interest has not slowed since, with the number of users inquiring about her work on the platform in 2021 already exceeding the total for 2020. While her often violent and overtly sexual images sometimes evoke the nightmare visions of Francis Bacon or grimacing George Condo figures, the self-taught artist has developed a deliciously debaucherous iconography all her own.

The primal world of Oh de Laval’s paintings was on full view in her first solo show, which opened at Unit London in March. Primary-market interest in her work has yet to translate to the secondary market—her work appeared at auction for the first time ever last month, when a print of her To Feel Alive cover sold for HK$17,500 (US$2,200), a little over its low estimate, at a Christie’s online sale. Despite that middle-of-the-road result, it seems likely that more collectors will be testing the secondary market for Oh de Laval’s work before long.

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Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019