9 of the Best Contemporary Paintings you Must See
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9 of the Best Contemporary Paintings you Must See

The world of contemporary art is packed with some of the most distinctive pieces we have ever seen, ranging from Banksy’s eye-opening and thought-provoking social commentary pieces to Jeff Koons's sculptures that can’t slot into one category.

While pieces like Dogs Playing Poker and the Mona Lisa will always have their place, these are the best contemporary works you need to see at least once in your life.

Balloon Girl
Speaking of Banksy, Balloon Girl, or Girl with Balloon, has become the piece that defines the elusive artist's style and message. The work has been adapted to fit into social issues and crises, most notably being the adoption of the piece for the Syrian refugee issue.

Famously, a portrait of the piece was put up for auction at Sotheby’s. When the hammer dropped, and the work was sold, it was instantaneously shredded thanks to a device found in the frame, installed by Banksy himself.

Jeff Koons has become famous for creating enormous, metallic sculptures in the shape of animals or balloon animals. Considering Koons is one of, if not the leading Neo-Pop artists, Rabbit was an instant hit.

Rabbit is a stainless steel sculpture created in 1986; it is considered Shock Art due to it not really having any meaning or function. It sold for slightly over $91 million in 2019, making it the most expensive piece of art ever sold by a living artist.

Balloon Dogs
Another Koons series, Balloon Dogs, is a collection of five stainless steel sculptures designed to look like balloon animals, in this case, dogs. Koons, while widely respected, is also looked down upon due to his art being highly “inartistic” to other artists and experts.

Despite this, one of his balloon dog sculptures, Orange, was auctioned at Christie’s and sold for over $50 million, which at the time was the highest price for a piece created by a living artist.

Cloud Gate
The proper name of this piece will probably be unfamiliar to some, but Cloud Gate can be found in Chicago and is also known as The Bean. Created by Anish Kapoor in 2006, The Bean has been a favorite of visitors and locals ever since.

The giant piece has unique angles that let you view the city, the sky, and those around you in different ways, depending on where you stand.

The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living
Damien Hirst has made some truly remarkable pieces over the years, but this one is one of his most famous and breathtaking. The work consists of a preserved shark suspended in an ocean-colored liquid.

Commissioned in 1991 by eccentric Charles Saatchi, the piece has remained controversial since it was first unveiled, with many believing it shouldn’t be considered art at all. Either way, if you ever get the chance to see it, you should.

Flower Ball
Takashi Murakami is famous for his use of bold patterns and colors, with Flower Ball being one of his most striking pieces. Created in 2002, the piece consists of multiple smiling flowers painted with different color combinations.

Coining the genre as “Superflat,” Murakami’s work is a homage to the traditional 2D art style found in Japan but modernized with his use of varying patterns and colors.

Angel of the North
A piece that many have seen before, the Angel of the North, is a massive sculpture that can be found outside the city of Newcastle in the United Kingdom. Installed in 1998, it took just over four years to complete.

Costing over £800,000 to build, the wings of the sculpture are pointed inwards, which many think indicates an embrace, welcoming visitors to the city.

Sunflower Seeds
Ai Weiwei is not a stranger to controversy, frequently criticizing the Chinese government and its policies. Sunflower Seeds consisted of 100 million porcelain sunflower seeds, representing the use of sunflower seeds in Chinese propaganda during Ai’s childhood.

While the installation closed in 2011, you can still view millions of the handmade seeds in various galleries across the globe.

Portrait of an Artist
Widely regarded as one of the most influential pieces of contemporary art, Portrait of an Artist was created by David Hockney in 1972. The painting was created by Hockney using two separate photos of himself, one of him in the pool and one looking over the pool.

In 2018, the piece was sold at auction for just over $90 million, making it one of the most expensive pieces of contemporary art ever bought.

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9 of the Best Contemporary Paintings you Must See

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