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8 Top Selling Artists 2015

Often anticapitalist by nature and sometimes offering scathing critiques of socio-economic systems, contemporary art is paradoxically highly sought-after for its commercial potential. While classics famously hold their value well enough to be considered an asset class, contemporary art  – where the artist is frequently alive and still working – is required to demonstrate its potential at auction regularly. Of course, the value of most contemporary art is nebulous but therein lies the excitement.

Our friends at Art Republik give us the low-down on eight living artists whose best-selling work combined nets more than USD150 million…

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Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons was born in 1955 in York, Pennsylvania, United States of America. He received his B.F.A. from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 1976. Koons is known for his exploration of contemporary consumer culture in his oeuvre. His series of works include “Equilibrium” (1985), which feature ready-made basketballs floating in distilled water in tanks made of glass and steel,  “Banality” (1988), mostly sculptures of toys and popular icons rendered in porcelain and polychromed wood, and “Made in Heaven” (1989-1991), centered around photorealist paintings and sculptures of the artist engaged in sexual intercourse in varied positions with his ex-wife Ilona Staller, an adult film star.

Koons’ “Balloon Dog” sculptures in five color versions – blue, magenta, yellow, orange and red – are probably among his most well known works. These are from the “Celebration” series, which presents giant mirror-polished stainless steel sculptures with transparent color coating.

The artist has pioneered new techniques for the making of his artworks. For the “Celebration” series, for example, he collaborated with Arnold AG, a metalwork mill in Germany to make the sculptures’ high-shine surface. In addition, he used the CAT scan, typically used in hospitals, to get an all-round imaging of subjects so that the enlarged versions could be reproduced to perfection. He also has a unique way of working. Koons’ works are made in a studio that employs more than 100 assistants who fabricate his work.

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“Balloon Dog (Orange)”

2008 was a particularly productive year for Koons, with solo exhibitions at Château de Versailles, France, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin. More recently, in 2014, “Jeff Koons: A Retrospective”, was held at the Whitney Museum of American Art. It has now traveled to the Centre Pompidou, Paris, and will be at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao later in the year.

Koons’ first million-dollar work sold was the “Pink Panther” (1988) from the “Banality” series, which transacted at Christie’s in 1999 for USD1.8 million (1988). In 2013, he became the most expensive living artist when “Balloon Dog (Orange)” sold for USD52 million at Christie’s. He holds the title to this date.

Koons lives and works in New York.

In Brief

  • Age: 60
  • Nationality: American
  • Gallery Representation: David Zwirner Gallery, Gagosian Gallery, Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont, Galerie Max Hetzler
  • Big Break: Koons’ “Banality” series (1988), featuring the work, “Michael Jackson and Bubbles”, exhibited at the Sonnabend Gallery in New York City in 1989.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “Balloon Dog (Orange)”, 1994-2000, mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating, 307.3 x 363.2 x 114.3cm. Price including buyer’s premium: USD58.4 million. Sold at Christie’s, New York, November 2013

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Zeng Fanzhi, Mask Series No. 5, 1994, oil on canvas, 180 x 150 cm. Sold at Sotheby’s, Hong Kong, October 2010.

Zeng Fanzhi

Zeng Fanzhi was born in Wuhan, China in 1964. He graduated from Hubei Academy of Fine Arts in 1991, where he specialized in oil painting.

Before moving to Beijing in 1993, he began painting the “Hospital” series, showing tableaus from the hospital, and the “Meat” series that contrast human beings with butchered meat, inspired by the hospital and the butcher’s shop he lived next to. From these first works, the characters began to be drawn with disproportionately larger hands, which persisted into his “Mask” series.

Zeng Fanzhi is probably best known for his paintings in this series of figures standing in groups or alone, wearing white masks with big smiles. This was motivated by his interactions with people in the capital of China, whom he thought hid their true identities and feelings from others and perhaps from themselves as well, in a representation of the Chinese people’s feelings of isolation in the decade after the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.

An adventurous artist who has experimented with different styles, Zeng began drawing landscapes in 2004, mostly covered with bare intertwining branches, inspired by the unexpected beauty he saw in a pot of Chinese wisteria in his studio. He also painted portraits of luminaries in western culture such as Francis Bacon and Andy Warhol in 2010.

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“The Last Supper”, 2001, oil on canvas, 220 x 395 cm.

Zeng first set a new world auction record for Chinese contemporary art in May 2008, when his diptych Mask Series 1996 No. 6 sold for USD9.7 million at Christie’s in Hong Kong. This featured eight members of the Young Pioneers, the Communist Party’s youth movement, wearing their representative red scarves, and Zeng’s signature masks. In 2013, his painting, “The Last Supper” sold for USD23 million at Sotheby’s. He remains the most expensive living Asian artist.

In the same year, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris presented the first French retrospective of 40 paintings and sculptures from Zeng made between 1990 and 2012.

Zeng lives and works in Beijing.

In Brief

  • Age: 51
  • Nationality: Chinese
  • Gallery Representation: Gagosian Gallery, Acquavella Galleries, Gallery Hyundai, ShangArt, Hanart TZ Gallery
  • Big Break: Fresh out of art school, paintings from Zeng Fanzhi’s “Hospital” series were selected by Johnson Chang from Hanart TZ Gallery based in Hong Kong to be included in an exhibition at Hong Kong Arts Centre in 1993 titled “China’s New Art, Post-1989”. This introduced the artist to the art community, and at the same time gave Zeng tremendous encouragement to continue pursuing his career as an artist.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “The Last Supper”, 2001, oil on canvas, 220 x 395 cm. Price including buyer’s premium: USD23.3 million, Sotheby’s Hong Kong, October 2013

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Installation view, Takashi Murakami’s exhibition, In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow, Gagosian Gallery, New York, 10 November – January 17 2015 © 2014 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Photography by Robert McKeever.

Takashi Murakami

Takashi Murakami was born in 1962 in Tokyo, and received his BFA, MFA and PhD from the Tokyo University of the Arts, formerly the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.

A multi-hyphenate, Murakami is involved in many aspects of the art world, and works as an artist, a gallerist, a curator and an art theorist, among others. He founded the Hiropon factory in Tokyo in 1996 for the production of his works, which later evolved into Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd., an art production and art management corporation. In addition to the production and marketing of Murakami’s art and related work, it manages and promotes emerging artists.

Murakami has organized several influential exhibitions based on the theory of a tradition of a pervasive superflat look in contemporary Japanese visual culture, typified by manga, which refer to comic books, and anime, which refer to animation, that tend towards two-dimensionality. The first exhibition, titled simply “Superflat”, was held at Parco Gallery in Tokyo and Nagoya. It subsequently traveled to MoCA gallery in the Pacific Design Centre in Los Angeles, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, in 2001. He has followed up with exhibitions such as “Coloriage” at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris in 2002 and “Little Boy: The Art of Japan’s Exploding Subcultures” at the Japan Society in New York in 2005.

A pioneer in art-fashion collaborations, Murakami began working with Louis Vuitton in 2003. He first created the “Monogram Multicolore”, which featured the “LV” monogram in 33 bright colors. Since then, he has made special prints for the luxury fashion house’s leather goods that incorporate motifs such as cherry blossoms and pandas. In 2008, the limited edition “Monogramouflage” collection, for all products from iPhone cases to luggage, featured a juxtaposition of the khaki and beige camouflage print and the Louis Vuitton monogram.

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Takashi Murakami, “Lionel Messi and a Universe of Flowers,” 2014, acrylic and platinum leaf on canvas laid down on board, 70 7/8 x 70 7/8 in

A notable recent exhibition is “Takashi in Superflat Wonderland” at the PLATEAU Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul Korea in late 2013, where some of the artist’s most iconic works were on display, including one of the artist’s “Superflat Flowers” sculptures made in 2010. Also in the exhibition was a fiberglass sculpture of “Miss Ko2”, a buxom character created by Murakami as a commentary on otaku culture, an obsession with anime and manga, and the resultant desire to have these unreal characters come to life.

Not content to rest on his laurels, Murakami is constantly innovating. In 2013, he released his first feature film, “Jellyfish Eyes”, which mixes live action with cartoon characters, with plans for a sequel.

Murakami lives and works in Tokyo.

In Brief

  • Age: 53
  • Nationality: Japanese
  • Gallery Representation: Gagosian Gallery, Blum & Poe, Galerie Perrotin, Kaikai Kiki Gallery
  • Big Break: Murakami had an international traveling retrospective, “©Murakami”, showing over 90 works by the artist that kicked off at The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles in 2008. In an interview in W Magazine in April 2013, Murakami said that this exhibition was a turning point in his career, stating that he thought the conventional view before the exhibition was that he was merely an artist influenced by Japanese subculture. The exhibition was persuasive of the strength of his artworks to have a place in art history.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “My Lonesome Cowboy”, 1998, oil, acrylic, fiberglass, iron, 254 x 116.8 x 91.4cm. Price including buyer’s premium: USD15.1 million, Sotheby’s, New York, May 2008

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Tracey Emin, My Bed, 1998, mattress, linens, pillows, objects, 211 x 234 cm. World auction record for the artist at Christie’s, London, July 2014. Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd. 2014.

Tracey Emin

Tracey Emin was born in London in 1963, and studied at Maidstone College of Art and the Royal College of Art, London, where she earned her Master’s degree in 1989.

Emin’s art is inspired by her personal life. Her artworks reflect universal emotions and are both relatable and confrontational. These are created in wide range of mediums, including, painting, photography, textile, video, installation and sculpture.

In 1999, Emin was shortlisted for the Turner Prize, an annual prize awarded to a British visual artist below the age of 50. This was for her provocative work, “My Bed”, an installation of the artist’s bed complete with liquor bottles, cigarette butts, worn underwear, condoms and rumpled stained bedsheets, the scene of a post-breakup breakdown.

Among other works by Emin are her “I’ve Got It All” photograph from 2000 showing the artist seated on the floor with ample cleavage, her legs wide open, bills and coins pressed against her crotch. She is also known for her neon light installations, which she has produced since the 1990s, featuring evocative messages such as “You Forgot to Kiss My Soul” (2001) and “You Loved Me Like a Distant Star” (2012).

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Tracey Emin

Emin has exhibited extensively. In 2007, she represented Britain at the 52nd Venice Biennale. The first major retrospective exhibition of Emin’s work opened at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in 2008, and traveled to Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga, Spain and the Kunstmuseum Bern, Switzerland. In May 2011, Emin had a major survey exhibition, “Love is What You Want” at the Hayward Gallery in London.

Emin currently lives and works in London.

In Brief

  • Age 52
  • Nationality British
  • Gallery Representation Lehmann Maupin, White Cube
  • Big Break Charles Saatchi’s “Sensation” exhibition at the Royal Academy, London included Emin’s much-discussed work “Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995”, which was a tent embroidered with over 100 names of people she had slept with, including 32 lovers, and 80 people she had only slept next to.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold “My Bed”, 1998, mattress, linens, pillows, objects, 79 x 211 x 234 cm. Price including buyer’s premium: USD4.3 million, Christie’s, London, July 2014

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Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild, 1986, oil on canvas, 300.6 x 250.5 cm. World auction record for the artist at Sotheby’s, London, February 2015. Courtesy Sotheby’s.

Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richter was born in 1932 in Dresden, Germany. He studied at the Staatliche Kunstakademie, or the State Academy of Art, in Düsseldorf under the eminent German artist Karl Otto Götz from 1961 to 1964.

Richter has had an illustrious career spanning over half a century. Beginning in the 1960s, the author painted, in grey scale, renditions of blown-up blurred black-and-white photographs he had taken of still lifes, portraits and landscapes, such as “Kitchen Chair” (1965), “Helen” (1963) and possibly his most well-known work of the period, “Domplatz, Mailand” (1968), measuring nearly 3 meters by 3 meters, featuring the Cathedral Square in Milan. This iconic work appears to vibrate with Richter’s signature fuzzy blur in his photo-paintings, which had the capacity to soften or destabilize an image.

Beginning in the late 1960s, Richter created his “Colour Chart” and “Grey Paintings” series that were based on his exploration of color. “1024 Colours” was made in four unique editions, and feature neat ovoids of 1024 different colors painted in a grid at random. His “Grey Paintings” were inspired by the use of shades of the color in his photo-based paintings.

In the 1980s, Richter started to apply a squeegee across the canvas to scrape and smear freshly laid paint to create intuitive paintings that revealed hidden layers, and from the 1990s, the tool was applied both horizontally and vertically to create new possibilities in the final works.

Richter has exhibited all over the world. He had a major exhibition, “Abstract Paintings”, in 1978 at the Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, which traveled to the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London. In 1988, the artist was given his first North American retrospective, jointly organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. The exhibition traveled to Washington and San Francisco. In 2002, a 40-year retrospective of Richter’s work was held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York and in 2011, a major retrospective of the artist’s works opened at the Tate Modern, London and traveled to the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. Richter has also participated in multiple editions of the Venice Biennale and the Documenta in Kassel since 1972.

In 2012, Richter became the most expensive living artist after his work, “Abstraktes Bild (809-4)” (1994), sold for USD33 million in London, a title he held until 2013. Most recently, in February 2015, another “Abstraktes Bild” work, this one painted in 1986, sold for USD37 million, which made him the most expensive living artist
in Europe.

Richter has lived and worked in Cologne since 1983.

In Brief

  • Age: 83
  • Nationality: German
  • Gallery Representation: Marian Goodman Gallery, Scott White Contemporary Art
  • Big Break: In 1968, Richter was commisioned by Siemens AG to make a work to hang in their Milan offices. The result was “Domplatz, Mailand” (1968), at the time the artist’s largest figurative painting, and probably the most accomplished
  • photo-painting by the artist.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “Abstraktes Bild”, 1986, oil on canvas, 300.5 x 250.5cm. Price including buyer’s premium: USD46.3 million, Sotheby’s, London, February 2015

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Exhibition view of Yayoi Kusama, Ota Fine Arts, Singapore. Photography by Quek Jia Liang. Image courtesy of Ota Fine Arts

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama was born in Matsumoto City, Japan in 1929. She moved to the United States in 1957 before moving back to Japan in 1973. Kusama has had a rich and varied career as an artist for over five decades. Her works are in various mediums, including painting, sculpture, performance and installation. Among her most well known works are the “Infinity Net” paintings she began making in the late 1950s, made by adding white arcs onto a darker background on a large canvas. The “Accumulation” sculptures came after, and feature soft-sculptures she made by stitching cotton-stuffed cloth into phallic shapes to attach to furniture and clothing, as well as her trademark polka dot designs in both two- and three-dimensional works. In her time in New York in the 1960s, she was also a performance artist who staged provocative happenings, such as painting people in the nude in her trademark polka dots.

Kusama has exhibited all over the world. In 1993, she represented Japan at the Venice Biennale, for which she created an installation with a mirror room and multiple yellow pumpkin sculptures, the beginnings of similar sculptures covered in uneven black dots. In 1998, a major retrospective of her work made in New York, opened at the Los Angeles County Museum of art before traveling to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Walker Art Centre in Minneapolis, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo.

Notably, from 2011 to 2012, a touring exhibition of her works made its way to Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Tate Modern in London as well as the Whitney Museum in New York.

In 2012, Kusama collaborated with Louis Vuitton in an ambitious project that saw products such as leather goods and ready-to-wear fashion, in prints featuring Kusama’s signature polka dots – black polka dots against a yellow background, white against black and red against white, which took center stage in window displays of 460 Louis Vuitton stores in 64 countries, as well as seven special concept stores in Paris, London, and Tokyo.

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Yayoi Kusama, Shellfish, 1989, screenprint, 53.5 x 46 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and Ota Fine Arts.

In the past decade, Kusama has created immersive installations of walk-in rooms that create disorienting experiences for the viewer. “Fireflies on the Water” (2002) features 150 lights and a pool of water in the center of a room, whose surfaces are all covered with mirrors that give multiple reflections. “Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away” at the David Zwirner Gallery in late 2013 played on a similar concept with 75 colored LED lights that glimmered and pulsed in a small mirrored room. Another recent installation is “The Obliteration Room”, currently at the Queensland Art Gallery, where children add colorful dot stickers to white furniture, objects and surfaces.

Kusama lives and works in Tokyo.

In Brief

  • Age: 86
  • Nationality: Japanese
  • Gallery Representation: Ota Fine Arts, Victoria Miro, David Zwirner Gallery
  • Big Break: Kusama has had a long and successful career, but probably became a global household name when she collaborated with Louis Vuitton in 2012, which included not only a full range of products carrying her signature polka dots, but also the window displays of the luxury fashion house’s stores in over 60 countries.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “White No. 28”, 1960, oil on canvas, 147.6 x 111.1cm. Price including buyer’s premium: USD7.1 million, Christie’s, New York, November 2014

Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman, Untitled #463, 2007/2008, chromogenic color print, 174.2 x 182.9 cm, edition of 6. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures.

Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman is an American artist born in 1954 in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. She graduated from State University College, Buffalo, New York, in 1976. Her photographs have seen her take on multiple roles since her first series, “Untitled Film Stills” in the late 1970s, and continuing with “Centrefolds” (1981), in which she was photographed in an intimate setting as a vulnerable character, and “Fashion” (1983-84), exploring the objectification of women in the still image. The artist is at the center of each photograph, but in different guises, as she plays with identity through dress, transforming her image through hair, make-up, costumes, props and prosthetics.

Sherman has continued to create chameleon-like transformations in performative photographic works, such as in her humorous interpretations of old master paintings as photographs between 1989 and 1990, where she became the portraits’ subjects. Another series of similar works, this time with society portraits in 2008, saw Sherman dressed as aging socialites against moneyed backgrounds. These works poked fun at the trappings of excessive wealth and the obsession with youth and on-the-surface perfection in contemporary society.

While she is most famous for her more light-hearted self-portraits in different roles, she has created a significant number of works that are darker in nature. Beginning in the mid-1980s, her body of work expanded to include the “Fairy Tales” and Disasters” series that show grotesque scenes from which the artist is mostly absent. Other dark series include “Sex and Death” in the late 19080s, photographed using disfigured mannequins, “Pure Horror” in the mid-1990s and “Clowns” in the mid-2000s.

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Cindy Sherman, “Untitled Film Stills”, gelatin silver print, 25.4 x 20.3 cm. World auction record for the artist at Christie’s, New York, November 2014. Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd. 2015.

Sherman has had numerous solo exhibitions at home and abroad since the 1980s. Of particular note is a survey at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2012, which showcased more than 170 photographs from the artist’s extensive body of work. The exhibition also included the debut of Sherman’s new photographic murals, which saw her image manipulated digitally against a decorative toile background.

Sherman lives and works in New York.

In Brief

  • Age: 61
  • Nationality: American
  • Gallery Representation: Metro Pictures, Galerie Sprüth Magers
  • Big Break: “Untitled Film Stills”, shown at the landmark performance and video space The Kitchen in New York in 1980, was Sherman’s breakthrough. In these black-and-white photos, the artist took on 69 stereotypical female roles in movies such as the housewife and the femme fatale.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “Untitled Film Stills”, 1977, gelatin silver print, 25.4 x 20.3cm.
  • Price including buyer’s premium: USD6.8 million, Christie’s, New York, November 2014

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Andreas Gursky, Rhein II, 1999, chromogenic colour print face-mounted to plexiglass, 185.4 x 363.5 cm. World auction record for the artist at Christie’s, New York, November 2011. Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd. 2015.

Andreas Gursky

Andreas Gursky was born in Leipzig, Germany in 1955. He first studied photography at the Folkwang University of the Arts, formerly Folkwang Academy in Essen. He then attended the Staatliche Kunstakademie, or the State Academy of Art in Düsseldorf and studied under the influential German photographers Hilla and Bernd Becher from 1981 to 1987.

Gursky is known for his large-scale magnified photographs of varied scenes, which can measure up to 2 by 5 meters, reveal the conditions of contemporary times. Usually taken from an elevated vantage point, the artist’s photographic works are known for their stunning and often overwhelming clarity.

In the 1990s, Gursky began experimenting with digital manipulation through shooting the images on chromogenic prints, or c-prints using a large-format camera, then scanning the images for reworking on the computer to create his massive and precise photographs. One of the earliest works made this way was “Paris, Montparnasse” (1993), which showed an inhabited apartment building, and highlighted its uniformed structure and crowdedness in a commentary on the cookie-cutter mold of contemporary urban living. In “Rhein II”, Gursky merged photographs of different parts of the river together to exclude industrial activity, creating an imaginary serene landscape.

In 2011, this work became the most expensive photograph sold at auction.

A recurring theme in Gursky’s work is the effects of capitalism and globalization in contemporary society that put in place invisible systems. Perhaps his most recognizable images from the 1990s are of the Chicago Board of Trade from 1990, which, in contrast to “Rhein II”, shows a flurry of activity reflective of the trading floor’s organized chaos, with traders at the pit surrounded by circular rows of computers. In “99 Cent II Diptychon” (2001), which shows the interior of a 99 Cents Only store, the bright colors red, yellow and orange of rows of boxes were edited to jump out from the photograph, aided by the addition of a mirrored ceiling. The visually impressive work provided a stark reflection of an obsessive consumer culture in contemporary society.

From the mid-2000s, Gursky has worked on numerous projects in Asia, including Japan, Thailand, China and North Korea, among others. “Pyongyang”, a series of photographs of the annual Arirang Festival in North Korea in 2007 presented the heavily directed spectacle to the rest of the world. In taking the festival proceedings such as choreographed mass dances from a great distance, the resulting images look like colorful tapestries, and show the insignificance of the individual within the society.

Gursky has exhibited internationally. A 2001 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York traveled to Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Centre Pompidou, Paris, and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

In recent years, Gursky has also exhibited small photographs atypical to the rest of his oeuvre, such as in “Werke-Works 80-08,” which opened in Kunstmuseen Krefeld in Germany in 2008, and toured to Moderna Museet, Stockholm and Vancouver Art Gallery in 2009.

Gursky lives and works in Düsseldorf.

In Brief

  • Age: 60
  • Nationality: German
  • Gallery Representation: Galerie Sprüth Magers, Mai 36 Galerie, Matthew Marks Gallery
  • Big Break: Gursky acquired worldwide fame with his major solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, in 2001.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “Rhein II”, 1999, chromogenic print, Plexiglass, 207 x 385.5 x 6.2cm.
  • Price including buyer’s premium: USD4.3 million, Christie’s, New York, November 2011

Story Credits

Text by Nadya Wang

Chanel's Mademoiselle Privé exhibit at the Saatchi Gallery in London

A peek at Chanel’s ‘Mademoiselle Prive’ exhibition

Mademoiselle Prive Lily-Rose Depp

London’s Saatchi Gallery is set to launch its three-week “Mademoiselle Privé” exhibition, which will take visitors through the storied history of the French fashion house Chanel, touching on fashion, fragrance, jewelry and the famous couturiers behind it all.

Running October 13 through November 1, “Mademoiselle Privé” will cover Chanel both with Coco Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld at the helm.

It will span the brand’s long and celebrated relationship with couture as well as the story behind its legendary Chanel No. 5 perfume.

Chanel's Mademoiselle Privé exhibit at the Saatchi Gallery in London

Another focus of the show will be the 1932 haute joaillerie collection, Bijoux de Diamants, which was designed by Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel and reissued by Karl Lagerfeld for the autumn/winter 2015 couture show in Paris earlier this year. For this section of the show, Karl Lagerfeld has photographed celebrities including Kristen Stewart, Lily-Rose Depp, Vanessa Paradis, Keira Knightley, Stella Tennant and Julianne Moore.

“Audacity, freedom and innovation” are said to be the essential elements of Chanel and will be at the forefront throughout the exhibition.

Chanel's Mademoiselle Privé exhibit at the Saatchi Gallery in London

The show will be installed on all three floors of the venue.

In addition, daily workshops throughout its duration will reveal more about Chanel craftsmanship, teaching visitors how to embroider and work with feathers, while an olfactive workshop will offer insight into the six key elements of Chanel No. 5.

Chanel's Mademoiselle Privé exhibit at the Saatchi Gallery in London

Find out more at the dedicated website. A visitor’s app with interactive content can be accessed from the site and is available for iOS & Android.

“Mademoiselle Privé” will run from October 13 – November 1.

Chanel's Mademoiselle Privé exhibit at the Saatchi Gallery in London

Artesian

World’s best bar: The Artesian in London

Artesian

For the fourth year in a row, London’s The Artesian bar has been named the world’s best watering hole in the world.

At the World’s 50 Best Bars awards, the bar attached to the luxury Langham hotel in London maintained the title it has held onto for the past four years, thanks to elevating cocktails to a multi-sensory experience.

At the bar’s helm are mixologists Alex Kratena and Simone Caporale.

The latest menu called “Surrealism,” was inspired by Salvador Dali’s “Les Diners de Gala” and involves cocktails which are served in giant copper ant structures; lit aflame; and spritzed with perfume.

The top 10 list is dominated by London which took half of the top spots.

Here are the top 10 bars according to the World’s 50 Best Bars list:

1. The Artesian, London
2. The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog, New York
3. Nightjar, London
4. Employees Only, New York
5. American Bar, London
6. The Baxter Inn, Sydney
7. 28 HongKong Street, Singapore
8. Happiness Forgets, London
9. Connaught Bar, London
10. Black Pearl, Melbourne

For the full list visit http://bit.ly/worlds50bestbars.

ant coktail London Chameleon Crystals Snake Charmer

Range Rover Evoque Convertible Teased in London

Evoque convertible wireframe sculptures

Land Rover will be unveiling the Range Rover Evoque Convertible in November and the manufacturer has just come out with a unique way to promote the upcoming convertible.

Range Rover Evoque convertible sculptures Louis Vuitton

Land Rover has displayed six wireframe sculptures of the upcoming vehicle at some of the iconic streets in London including Harrods department store on Brompton Road, Knightsbridge and in notable Mayfair addresses.

Range Rover Evoque convertible sculptures Bulgari

The sculptures were created by Land Rover’s design team using computer modeling to accurately outline the shape of the Evoque Convertible. These 1:1 scale models are made from aluminium and finished in various colours.

Range Rover Evoque convertible sculptures Harrods

Gerry McGovern, Land Rover Design Director and Chief Creative Officer, said: “The Range Rover Evoque Convertible is perfectly suited to the urban surroundings of a city like London and it’s the perfect place to showcase the world’s first luxury compact SUV convertible.”

Range Rover Evoque convertible sculptures

The official Evoque Convertible reveal will take place in November 2015, with a possible launch date in early 2016.

Diner in White London

Hundreds attend London pop-up picnic dressed in white

Diner in White London

Hundreds of people dressed all in white attended a pop-up picnic in London on Thursday in an event aimed to celebrate public space in cities.

The “Diner en Blanc” or “Dinner in White” event was held at a secret location, revealed at the last minute to be a square beside King’s Cross train station in the centre of the capital.

DINNER IN WHITE TRADITION SPARKLES AGAIN IN NYC

Surrounded by white bunting, the diners set up tables with white tablecloths and shared picnic baskets filled with food, tableware and wine and champagne.

The tradition began at an event 27 years ago in Paris at which organisers invited guests to wear all white in a park so they could be spotted easily.

It has since become an international phenomenon, spreading to about 70 cities in 35 countries, from Johannesburg to Montreal and Tokyo. It has been held in London twice before.

More than 13,000 people turned up for the 27th edition in Paris this year, held in the public areas of the Tuileries Garden and the Palais Royal.

Guests are asked to dress in elegant clothes and must leave the area as they found it when they leave, removing all traces the picnic took place.

Bolin Grand Piano

ABBA’s piano up for auction in London

Bolin Grand Piano

The piano that featured on many of ABBA’s greatest hits is going under the hammer next month in London, auctioneers Sotheby’s said Thursday.

The piano is estimated to fetch between £600,000 and £800,000 ($925,000-$1.24 million) when it goes on sale on September 29.

Swedish pop foursome ABBA dominated the 1970s disco scene with their catchy, finely-crafted songs.

“The opening piano glissando from ‘Dancing Queen’ is one of the most distinctive sounds of the 1970s and we are delighted to offer the actual instrument used by the legendary ABBA in their major recordings,” said Sotheby’s expert Philip W. Errington.

“The piano itself is an instrument of real importance and with the added ABBA provenance we expect it will have worldwide appeal.”

It was built by the inventive Swedish musical instrument designer Georg Bolin for the US jazz pianist Bill Evans.

The New York Times described it in 1964 as a “space-age piano”.

It was bought by Stockholm’s Metronome Studios in 1967 and appeared on nearly all of ABBA’s recordings between 1973 and 1977.

It featured on hits including “Dancing Queen”, “Waterloo”, “SOS”, “Knowing Me, Knowing You”, “Mamma Mia”, and “Ring Ring”.

“The Bolin Grand, one of a kind and a great source of inspiration while working in the recording studio during the ABBA sessions!”, said the group’s pianist Benny Andersson.

The foursome — Andersson, Bjoern Ulvaeus, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Agnetha Faeltskog — went their separate ways in 1983 and have never performed together since.

Sky Pool

Suspended ‘sky pool’ coming to London

Sky Pool

In what appears to be a word first, developers in London are planning a swimming pool suspended high between two buildings with a clear shell that enables swimmers to feel like they’re in the sky.

The 25-meter-long pool would connect two apartment complexes that are part of the 2,000-home Embassy Gardens development in London’s new Nine Elms quarter, reports Dezeen.

Sky Pool London

It’s the work of architecture firm Arup Associates with help from structural design engineers at Eckersley O’Callaghan and also from Reynolds, an aquarium design firm.

It has reached the second stage of construction and developers from the Ballymore Group say it will include a bar, spa and orangery.

Embassy Gardens

london map cocktails drinki

Get free drinks in London via smartphone app

london map cocktails drinki

In London, the sacred happy hour could become obsolete thanks to a smartphone app that allows users to benefit from free cocktails in hip bars.

Drinki, as the app is called, has assembled more than 70 trendy London bars and pubs so far. Noteworthy drinking spots that have signed on include the famous Buddha Bar in Knightsbridge, The Big Chill in Shoreditch and the London Grind near London Bridge. The concept involves offering a free cocktail to any consumer that displays the app.

Concretely, all you have to do is download Drinki to your smartphone and look for the nearest bar to try it out. Users need to connect to Facebook to announce their presence in each bar via a “check-in” system. In one simple click, each user receives a free drink.

Cocktail fans can peruse the drinks on offer even before choosing their evening destination. The bars present their daily specials, be it a free glass of champagne, a Martini expresso etc. On average, cocktail prices start at 8 pounds (around 11 euros) in each affiliated watering hole.

The Drinki application is free to download on the App Store and Google Play. More than 10,000 drinks are served free of charge each week.

Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty

Alexander McQueen’s record breaking exhibition

Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty

An Alexander McQueen exhibit has become the most successful paid-for exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

During its 21-week run, “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” attracted more than 493,000 visitors from 87 countries, including guests from East Timor and Uzbekistan, says the museum.

The exhibit, which paid homage to the late designer, also sold a record-breaking 84,000 advance tickets and, to meet unprecedented demand, kept the museum open throughout the night for the first time in its history during the final two weekends. It also attracted an online audience of 3 million.

“Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” which closed Aug. 2, was the first retrospective of McQueen’s work presented in Europe.

afternoon tea

London’s 5 best afternoon teas

afternoon tea

This week, England is saluting one of its greatest gourmet traditions: afternoon tea. In London, luxury hotels and tourist destinations have coordinated to best let people discover scones, jams and other delights that make up this special moment.

Our selection of five unique places for your tea

Tea Masterclass at Harrod’s

The famous London luxury store is organizing masterclasses on August 13 and 14 dedicated to tea tasting. Within the confines of its iconic Georgian Restaurant, Harrod’s will present a selection of ten of its very own tea specialties. The tasting will be accompanied by delicacies like scones served warm with a rose petal gelée. Expect to pay £50 per person, and make sure to reserve ahead of time at reservations@harrods.com.

A fragrant experience at the InterContinental Park Lane

When the world of perfumes meets afternoon tea… To celebrate this event, the hotel has organized a workshop to demonstrate the way in which perfumes and cooking techniques can work together to create an ultra-gourmet afternoon tea. To this end, the head of Floris London and her spokesperson will lead demonstrations on August 13. Expect to shell out £35 per person for the workshop and an afternoon tea complete with a glass of Champagne in the Wellington Lounge.

Japanese-style afternoon tea

The Courthouse Hotel will thumb its nose at British tradition by reimagining British tea with Japanese ingredients. Guests will, for example, taste a plum wine that is traditionally served in the land of the rising sun, or an Asian effervescent wine. The cost: £29.50 per person.

A gourmet moment with author Rosie Millard

Afternoon tea at the Conrad Saint James will adopt an educational outlook with the presence of author Rosie Millard. The journalist will discuss her latest book, “The Square,” while guests enjoy coconut or pineapple scones and mojito macaroons. Traditional cups of tea will be served, as well as large glasses of iced tea. The afternoon will set you back £35.

An historic afternoon tea

On August 14, superstar blogger Kerstin Rodgers, aka Marmite Lover, will serve tea and scones in an historic setting in 18-century style. This will all go down in the Dennis Sever’s House in Spitalfields. Going back in time will cost you £75 per person.

Bloomberg Buys London Mansion for $26 Million

Michael Bloomberg London Mansion

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has purchased a historic riverside mansion, once owned by novelist “George Eliot” (Mary Ann Evans), in the Chelsea neighborhood of London for $26 million.

Michael Bloomberg London Mansion

Though the mansion was listed for $US23.4 million, it was eventually purchased by Bloomberg for $US26.5 million after a bidding war broke out among interested parties, according to the Daily Mail.

Michael Bloomberg London Mansion

The mansion is a historic, preserved building that sits along the River Thames and can only be accessed by a private road.

Michael Bloomberg London Mansion stairs

The mansion was built in 1715 and includes a massive, statuesque staircase. A Baroque mural — painted by Sir James Thornhil, who also decorated the dome at St. Paul’s Cathedral — adorns the ceiling.

Michael Bloomberg London Mansion bedroom

The seven-bedroom mansion also includes a large garden, vaults, a lift, original parquet floors, panelling and intricate cornice work, murals and marble fireplaces.

Michael Bloomberg London Mansion yard

It’s not Bloomberg’s first London home – he also owns a four-bedroom, three-bathroom home in the pricey Cadogan Square area of Knightsbridge.

Michael Bloomberg London Mansion

Great Scotland Yard

Scotland Yard police station turned into luxury hotel

Great Scotland Yard

Great Scotland Yard, an historic landmark where London police once tried to solve the grisly murders carried out by Jack the Ripper, will be turned into a luxury hotel where rooms will cost a whopping £10,000 a night.

The building is set to undergo a major £50 million ($78 million USD) refurbishment that will turn London’s first police headquarters into an ultra-luxurious hotel property that will span seven storeys.

Opulent suites, two bars, restaurants, a library, lobby and entertaining room will occupy more than 92,000 square feet (8,550 square meters) of space.

Developers say they’ll preserve the building’s Edwardian Imperial red brick and stone facade as well as its name, The Great Scotland Yard, in order to build on the landmark’s storied history.

Inside, the decor will be “contemporary and stylish.” In addition to a five-star setting, the hotel will aim to attract guests with its rich history: It was here that, in the late 19th century, British police officers pored over notes and revisited the grisly murders committed by Jack the Ripper.

The station is also immortalized by novelists such as Charles Dickens and Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The hotel is scheduled to open in early 2017.

doitinlondon

‘Do It In Paris’ comes to London

doitinlondon

Chic Parisian lifestyle website Doitinparis.com is crossing the Channel to take on London. The UK capital will get its own bilingual version of the site, Doitinlondon.com, Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) reports.

The site will feature fashionable new openings and happenings in the worlds of fashion, beauty, food, drink and neighborhoods.

The launch comes six years after the French version was founded by former style consultant and fashion editor-in-chief Véronique Constantinof.

“London is extremely dynamic with new places opening constantly and there are many bridges between Paris and London,” Constantinoff told WWD. “Young Parisian women between 25-35 — the core of Do It in Paris readership — go to London all the time.”

3D-printed butterfly cookies

Pop-up restaurant in London to serve 3D printed foods

3D-printed butterfly cookies

It’s being billed as the world’s first 3D printed, pop-up restaurant.

To highlight the potential of the emerging technology in the food world, organizers of the 3D Printshow in London have tapped a Michelin-starred chef to create a meal composed entirely of 3D printed foods.

Using fresh and seasonal ingredients, the chef will show attendees at the trade show how to create gourmet dishes in live demonstrations.

Visitors will also be taught how to ‘think in 3D’ and tap into the technology’s creative potential by showing off a chocolate globe which opens up to reveal different ‘flavor compartments.’

3D-printed chocolate snowflake

During the half-day gastronomy conference “Press Print to Eat,” attendees will get hands-on experience on how to cook up recipes using the 3D technology.

“The gastro-revolution continues not only to find new ways to present and prepare our food, but new state-of-the-art ways to create it. From 3D printed chocolate machines for customised party food to micro-engineered nutritional prints, we’ve been slowly edging towards the synthesis of entire meals,” said Kerry Hogarth, founder of 3D Printshow, in a statement.

Indeed, some experts predict that 3D printing has the potential of revolutionizing the way we eat, calling it the future of food.

Crackers made with roasted red peppers

Others go so far as claiming that 3D printers will become as common as the microwave in the average household.

At one end of the spectrum, the technology is being eyed by the world of haute gastronomy: ChefJet Pro, for instance, debuted as the world’s first professional food 3D printer and is designed to help pastry chefs create bespoke confections for their cakes, candies and desserts.

Think edible lace, latticework, sculptural and ornate cakes, toppers, candies and confectionery.

Foodini

At the other end, there’s the Foodini designed by Natural Machines as a household appliance that allows home cooks to create foods like homemade ravioli and custom-designed cookies —  minus the labor.

To use, consumers feed the countertop appliance with fresh foods and ingredients.

3D Printshow London takes place at The Old Truman Brewery in London May 21-23.

Jaguar XF Across River Thames

All-new Jaguar XF driven above London’s river Thames

The British luxury and sportscar brand has unveiled its latest executive sedan in typically flamboyant fashion by driving it across two steel high-wires suspended 18 meters above London’s river Thames.

The incredible publicity stunt, which stopped commuter traffic, broke the record for the furthest high-wire water crossing by a car and required the expertise of veteran Hollywood blockbuster stunt driver Jim Dowdell.

It was dreamed up in order to highlight the car’s lightweight, predominantly aluminum construction, which is key to optimizing fuel economy.

Jaguar XF Across River Thames

The XF, which will make its full global debut at the New York motor show on April 1, is 80kg lighter than any of its immediate rivals and, at 104g/km and over 70mpg (4l/100km), has the lowest CO2 emissions and best fuel economy of any non-hybrid car in the same class.

As well as a 75% aluminum construction, these economy figures are down to the company’s new Ingenium four-cylinder diesel engines — available with 160bhp or 178bhp. However, for those who want a bit more performance and a little less economy, a 3-liter 296bhp V6 turbo diesel and a 3-liter 375hph supercharged V6 petrol engine are also options.

But whatever the powerplant, the car’s stiffened body and almost perfect 50/50 weight distribution mean that it will handle well, as will the inclusion of something called Jaguar Configurable Dynamics.

Jaguar High-Wire

The system, which debuted on the company’s flagship F-Type sportscar, lets the driver tailor damper, steering, engine and transmission settings for comfort, straight-line speed or all-around performance.

The inside of the cabin is luxurious in the continental European sense — clean lines, premium materials and textures, minimal clutter and maximum connectivity — rather than in the traditional British sense of dark woods and darker, cosseting leather.

Jaguar High-Wire Crossing

It is the first Jaguar-branded car to showcase the new InControl premium infotainment system, which features a 10.2-inch ‘dual view’ touchscreen — the driver can see a map when glancing at the screen while the front seat passenger can instead see a movie — as well as a 12.3-inch TFT instrument cluster that can be customized like a smartphone screen or computer desktop.

It has the same sort of processing power and response times as a PC, using a quad-core processor for handling graphics, alerts and information.

Crown made of diamonds

Victoria and Albert Museum asks ‘What is Luxury?’

Crown made of diamonds

From April to September, London’s Victoria and Albert Museum will be hosting an exhibition examining the meaning and the history of luxury via a series of over 100 rare objects.

In a world of billion dollar fashion brands, the V&A’s ‘What is Luxury?’ aims to challenge our definitions of what luxury means and how it relates to our everyday lives.

Key pieces in the exhibition include the Space Travellers’ Watch, an entirely handcrafted mechanical timepiece by renowned British watchmaker George Daniels, a laser-cut haute couture dress by Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen, and a Bubble Bath necklace by Nora Fok, made from more than 1000 hand-knitted nylon bubbles.

More conceptual pieces include American artist Gabriel Barcia-Colombo’s DNA Vending Machine which contains pre-packaged DNA and questions whether in the future owning your own DNA will be a luxury.

“As its title suggests, the exhibition questions the very idea of luxury today,” explains V&A curator of Contemporary Furniture Jana Scholze, who co-curated the exhibition with visiting research fellow Leanne Wierzba.

“It will challenge common interpretations of luxury, invite close examination of luxury production and extend ideas of what luxury can be. Essentially, the question of luxury is a personal one.”

The free exhibition will take place in the museum’s Porter Gallery from April 25 to September 27.

Google Shop

Google opens its first shop in London

Google Shop

Google has opened a shop in London where visitors will be able to try out the latest tablets, Android phones, and Chromebook laptops.

Taking a page out of Apple’s playbook, the Google-branded store displays various products across open tables while roving staff are on hand to offer help, noted The Daily Mail UK.

google store interiors

To illustrate the scope of its Google Earth feature, visitors can fly virtually over different parts of the world with a tablet and giant immersive screen dubbed ‘The Portal,’ and create their own Doodles on a Doodle Wall using digital spray cans.

Google Shop London

The Google Shop, located inside Currys PC World on Tottenham Court Road, opened its doors Wednesday.

Christopher Kane London flagship

Christopher Kane unveils flagship store in London

Christopher Kane London flagship

Fashion brand  has announced the opening of its first flagship store in London, located at 6-7 Mount Street, W1.

To mark the occasion, a number of special edition leather handbags will go on sale exclusively at the London-based store, which opened Thursday.

The 4,100 square foot boutique is split over two floors, and was designed by Christopher Kane and British minimalist designer John Pawson.

Handbag by Christopher Kane

The retail space represents the Glaswegian designer’s “unique and innovative approach to luxury and fashion, with a great respect for craftsmanship and a high level of technical skill, alongside a deep sense of integrity that are paramount to the brand,” said the label in a statement.

Adding that “the goal is not a signature work of architecture but an environment with an emotional dimension, a space where the focus is on the clothes and on the people connected to them.”

Handbag Christopher Kane

Interesting interior design features include a dramatic staircase, a floor-to-ceiling totem light fitting on the lower ground floor, color gradient Perspex displays and touches of heavy timber and Portland stone.

The facade of the new flagship store reinstates elements of the listed building’s original Edwardian elevations, creating simple, full-height openings, stripped of all extraneous details.

Christopher Kane Handbag

Kane’s smart new West-End address is the first of several more standalone stores to be unrolled across the world, according to the Kering group which partly controls the British luxury fashion label.

Tower Bridge London

London rules among American travelers

Tower Bridge London

The most popular international destination for American globetrotters in 2014 was , followed by Paris and Toronto.

That’s according to the latest figures from the Hotel Price Index from online booking site Hotels.com.

The top five destinations remain unchanged from 2013 in rank as well, with Rome (pictured below) and Vancouver rounding out the list.

FASTEST-GROWING TOURIST HOTSPOTS IN EUROPE

rome italy

Meanwhile, Cancun and the Riviera Maya were particularly popular in 2014 among US holidaymakers, moving up four spots from 2013 to become the sixth most popular international destination.

The report also showed that while London is a predictable and perennial favorite, Americans are also becoming increasingly enamored with Edinburgh, having moved up six places on the list.

Top 10 most popular international destinations for US tourists

1. London
2. Paris
3. Toronto
4. Rome
5. Vancouver
6. Cancun/Riviera Maya
7. Montreal
8. Hong Kong
9. Tokyo
10. Barcelona

The Arch London

Win a night’s stay at the Arch London for just £5!

The Arch London

Eying a trip to London? To celebrate its fifth anniversary, The Arch London ( located near Marble Arch) is offering rooms for just £5.

The Arch London bedroom

For about the price of a takeaway lunch in London, winners of a promotional contest can stay at The Arch London for one night, and will be given the full treatment: breakfast, dinner, and champagne on arrival.

The Arch London library

To enter, tweet @thearchlondon with the hashtag #ilovethearchlondon. Five winners will be announced February 28.

The Arch London lobby