50 Under 50: The Next Most Collectible Artists, Part 1

(Illustration by BLOUIN ARTINFO)

Last year we set out on what some might call a fool’s errand by selecting the 50 most collectible living artists. Hoping to elevate this sort of list-making beyond a parlor game, we defined the parameters and embarked on research to find those artists who have a proven record in the market and also show promise of the continuing innovation and devotion to craft that will warrant attention for decades to come. The result was a list that peered beyond the headlines.

A year is no time at all in the long game that is serious collecting. For this second outing we decided to add to the challenge by focusing on artists under the age of 50. For such a group, auction stats can be erratic, and artists may just be adding a major museum solo to their exhibition history.

 

But what follows is not an “emerging” artist list in the style of many art magazines, naming favorites from the latest MFA graduating class. Most names will be familiar to readers from years of gallery shows and even awards. The vast majority among the final selections are in their 30s, because the reality is that artists are still coming into their practice through their 20s, and only after that begin to build a committed collector base. Readers will also note the preponderance of painters. In the discussions during which we hashed out the list, two reasons for this emerged. First, there is a genuine resurgence of nonrepresentational painting as artists under 50 reexamine that key modernist pursuit. Second, collectors perennially favor painting because it is understandable within an established tradition and is comparably easy to display and conserve.

Diversity is the other big trend seen in this list, in terms of geography as well as in the individual artists’ practices. The language of contemporary art is global, and collectors are increasingly interested in seeing differences in dialogue. Today artists may be born in the Middle East, live in Europe, and sell to collectors in Asia and America, and our list reflects that ubiquitous internationalism. Just as pervasive, it seems, is the desire among artists to operate free of the constraints of medium. Even as recent years have seen a return to a focus on craft and the object and, sometimes, beauty, it seems that the ultimate triumph of Conceptualism has come in the form of younger generations who embrace the artist’s role as that of universal creator. Photographers sculpt, sculptors bridge the divide between two and three dimensions, and painters make films. Innovation is everywhere. —The Editors

To see images of works by the artists mentioned here, click on the slideshow. 

Nevin Aladag

The Turkish-born, German-raised sculptor-by-training has adopted various media, including performance, video, and photography, to explore both personal and cultural differences. For Leaning Wall, 2012, produced for her first solo show at Rampa in Istanbul, Aladag cast 84 ceramic molds of body parts from models of both genders and mounted them climbing-wall style, inviting viewers to try fitting their own forearms or fists inside. The video triptych she contributed to the 2013 Sharjah Biennial records wind, rain, and sand “playing” various percussion instruments, while her ongoing “Pattern Matching” series employs sliced-up carpets from various regions of Turkey recomposed as basketball courts. “She’s basically interested in cultural codes and how we perceive them,” says Ustüngel Inanç, of Rampa. Currently, prices range from $6,000 to $65,000 at Wentrup Gallery, in Berlin, where she had a solo show this year. (She also shows at Gitte Weise Gallery, in Sydney.) Her work is held in the collections of the Vehbi Koç Foundation, the Neue Nationalgalerie, in Berlin, and the Pinakothek der Moderne, in Munich and is currently on view at Musée d’Art Contemporain, in Marseille. —Sarah P. Hanson

Ahmed Alsoudani

With its fractured imagery and turbulent mix of oil, acrylic, charcoal, and gesso, Alsoudani’s work conveys the carnage and chaos he witnessed as a young man in war-torn Iraq. (He fled to Syria and was later granted asylum in the United States.) His pieces, highly prized by Baghdad-born collector Charles Saatchi and businessman François Pinault, have brought from $17,500 for limited edition prints to the £713, 250 ($1.12 million) fetched by Baghdad I (2008) in a 2011 sale at Christie’s London. L&M Arts represents Alsoudani, and prices there generally reflect those achieved on the block. His first major museum show, “Ahmed Alsoudani: Redacted,” exhibits 21 of his works through July 7 at the Phoenix Art Museum. “Despite the dark nature of his subject matter, he takes such joy in painting,” says Sara Cochran, the museum’s curator of modern art, “which is life- affirming.” —Angela M.H. Schuster?

Diana Al-Hadid

Syrian-born, Brooklyn-based Al-Hadid makes large- scale multimedia works drawing on influences from Renaissance painting and Greek sculpture to the architecture of Salvador Dalí and Antoni Gaudí. Her works appear to defy gravity, with solid elements resting atop delicate plinths of paint-drip icicles. “It was hard not to take notice,” says dealer Marianne Boesky, who has worked with Al-Hadid since 2010. “Her work was unusually resolved for an artist in her 20s.” Although sculptural works range in price from $45,000 to $160,000, paintings on vellum can be had for $20,000 to $45,000. The latter, Boesky says, “come into the gallery and leave pretty much immediately.” Broad collector interest comes from the U.S., Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. After more than a dozen solo exhibitions at museums and galleries, including two with Boesky in New York, Al-Hadid steps out at the Akron Museum of Art this fall. —Eileen Kinsella

David Altmejd

As the youngest artist to represent a national pavilion (Canada) at the 2007 Venice Biennale, Altmejd exploded onto the international scene with what the Guardian deemed a magical but creepy installation of semi-human forms in a hall of mirrors. His sprawling works dare viewers to find a focal point. “You have to engage with the work on a physical level,” says Andrea Rosen, who first showed the Montreal-born artist in 2004. Despite the monumental scale, Rosen says interest “is not just institutional,” noting that many vertical works have “domestic possibilities.” On the primary market, prices range from $45,000 to $350,000, though most works fall in the $100,000 to $150,000 range. Only a handful of pieces have come to auction; the top price of £217,250 ($340,000) was earned by The New North, 2007, at Christie’s London last June. The artist’s third solo show at Xavier Hufkens, in Brussels wrapped this past March. —EK

Cory Arcangel

Adding to the din of the 2004 Whitney Biennial’s opening party was buzz over Super Mario Clouds v2k3, for which Arcangel hacked into the classic game and banished the characters, sounds, and scenery, leaving only cartoon clouds set against a blue sky. Seven years later, he became the youngest artist since Bruce Nauman to garner a solo show at the same museum. Videos by the 33-year-old currently range in price from $12,000 to $22,000, while installations top out at $150,000. Most collectors, however, seek two-dimensional works, especially abstract color field prints, priced around $22,000. “There is a waiting list,” says Kim Klehmet of Lisson Gallery of London, which shares representation with Thaddaeus Ropac in Paris. “We don’t want him to overproduce.” Still, those interested in acquisitions don’t need to wait for years or break the bank: Arcangel’s drawings of cars and palm trees, computer- rendered and automatically printed, cost a comparatively affordable $3,000. —Julia Halperin

Sadie Benning

First known for her pioneering videos on queer issues, shot with a toy camera in the 1990s and shown in the Whitney Biennials of 1993 and 2000, Benning has recently become a collector darling with her dense and delicious painted color studies. Although the artist continues to make videos, she brought her painting practice to the fore after becoming frustrated by technology’s mechanical demands and lightning-speed obsolescence. Her geometric works—priced at $4,000 to $7,000 for a drawing and $10,000 to $45,000 for paintings and groups of paintings—regularly sell out at art fairs from nada Miami to Art Rio and at New York venues Johannes Vogt Gallery and Callicoon Fine Arts. Part of the paintings’ appeal, according to Miami- based art adviser Jacqueline Fletcher, is that they’re “intimate but also bold. The way the individual pieces of the painted geometric groups speak to each other is engaging and brilliant.” —Doug McClemont

Tatiana Blass

The versatile 34-year-old Brazilian has a flair for the dramatic. One of her most famous works, Luz que cega Sentado (Blinding Light-Seated), 2011, which won her the PIPA prize that year, is a seated man cast in wax with a light trained on his back. A concentrated beam slowly melts the figure, leaving a spinal column cast in shiny bronze. Wax also made an appearance in Blass’s Metade da fala no chão—Piano surdo (Half of the speech on the ground— Deaf piano), a 2010 performance for the Bienal de São Paulo, in which a pianist plays Chopin while wax is poured into his baby grand, gradually muffling—and ultimately thwarting—his efforts. Smaller silenced instruments were snapped up for $25,000 at Art Basel Miami Beach last year at the booth of Galería Millan, in São Paulo, which also showed her dreamlike, picture-plane-distorting “Acidente” paintings. Collectors at home and abroad have come to appreciate Blass’s deftly devastating touch, according to gallery owner André Millan. Paintings, videos, and photos range from $3,000 to $25,000; sculptures go for $20,000 to $75,000. Blass is set for a breakout year with her first U.S. solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, opening July 16, and at her new New York representative, Johannes Vogt Gallery, in September. —SPH

Matthew Brandt

Brandt transmutes photography through unconventional materials, but with a meta twist: Portraits of friends and family are printed using their own sweat and tears; his “Honeybees” series uses victims of a found colony collapse to make an emulsion for resulting photographs. A former assistant to photographer Robert Polidori and a UCLA MFA student under James Welling, the 31-year-old Brandt centers his conceptual body of work on archaic photographic processes like gum-bichromate prints. “He has tremendous knowledge of the history of photography and such enthusiasm for what he’s doing,” says New York gallerist Yossi Milo, who placed pieces from Brandt’s first solo show at the gallery with the Brooklyn Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art last year. (Brandt is also represented by M+B, in Los Angeles.) Works from his “Lakes and Reservoirs” series—images soaked in water taken from the bodies they depict—met with clamorous success at fairs, selling at prices from $5,600 to $20,000. Brandt’s mining of the medium, melded with environmental concerns, has resulted in his first institutional solo show, at the Columbus Museum of Art this fall. —SPH

Carol Bove

The market for Bove’s meditative assemblages—painstakingly arranged objects such as driftwood and carefully selected books—took a turn upward in 2011 when it was announced her longtime gallery, Maccarone, would co-represent her in New York with David Zwirner. The deal quickly expanded the artist’s international reach: After presenting her work at Art Basel Miami Beach, Zwirner sold a sculpture to Mexico’s Colección Jumex, and the galleries coproduced Bove’s sprawling installation at Documenta (13). “It’s good for her career,” art adviser Lisa Schiff says of the novel arrangement. “Staying with Michele [Maccarone] lets her keep her edge—she’s not going vanilla.” In addition to making pieces for a solo show at Maccarone this fall, Bove is at work on six new sculptures to be shown at the Museum of Modern Art, along with a seventh from the museum’s collection, this summer. Sculptures and installations cost up to $300,000, while paintings, including a new, sought-after series that incorporates peacock feathers, range from $75,000 to $175,000. —JH

Anne Collier

A rigorous descendant of the 1970s and ’80s Pictures Generation, Collier photographs books, magazines, and ephemera in curious and unexpected compositions. “Anne is going to prove to be one of the most important photographers of her generation,” says Phillips specialist Benjamin Godsill. “She has an ability to find subtle variances and changes and track them in a way that’s not documentary and dry but sexy and seductive.” Collier’s career has seen a marked acceleration in the past few years. She nabbed New York’s High Line billboard commission in February 2012, was included in the Museum of Modern Art’s New Photography series the same year, and has solo museum exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and the Modern Institute, in Glasgow, on deck for 2014. Marc Foxx, in Los Angeles, Anton Kern, in New York, and Corvi-Mora, in London, represent her work, which has fetched up to $27,500 at auction. —Rachel Wolff

Matt Connors

For those looking for fresh takes on painting, spending some time with an exhibition of Connors’s meticulously executed representations of abstraction is required. Fortunately, fans have had ample opportunity to do just that with solo shows at the Museum of Modern Art’s PS1 and Kunsthalle Düsseldorf in the past two years, along with his inclusion in “Painter Painter,” the Walker Art Center’s first survey of abstract painting in more than 10 years, up through October. Somewhat reluctant, however, to be pigeonholed as a herald of the new abstraction, Connors “has a broader interest in representation and expressiveness; the art object, how we experience it, and how it is made,” says Cherry and Martin director Philip Martin, who currently sells the artist’s thinly painted (almost scrubbed) canvases and perceptual constructions to L.A.–based and international collectors for prices in the range of $5,000 to $25,000. The gallery will also feature a freestanding three-dimensional object by Connors in its booth at Art Basel this month. Although the 2012 Guggenheim Fellow currently has no auction record, renewed interest in nonrepresentational painting will likely boost his primary market. —Deborah Wilk

Aaron Curry

The artist’s appealingly eccentric, frequently fluorescent figures, created from flat interlocking cutouts of metal or wood, effectively transform two dimensions into three. And devoted collectors, including Donald and Mera Rubell, Rosa de la Cruz, and others from Germany, France, Italy, the U.K., and the U.S., have happily whisked these goofy-yet-brainy compositions off into their homes. Large sculptures range from $75,000 to $125,000 at Michael Werner Gallery, Curry’s representative in New York and Berlin, and at David Kordansky, in Los Angeles, where the artist is based. Collages can be purchased for $8,000 to $30,000. The artist’s prices at auction, evidenced by the $75,000 sale of One, 2006, at Sotheby’s New York this past March, remain in line with his primary market, where he continues to be supported. In May, Curry’s sculpture stood alone in Werner’s Art Basel Hong Kong booth, which was clad entirely in Curry-created wallpaper. The 14 large-scale aluminum pieces to be unveiled in New York’s Lincoln Center, on view from October through January, will form an impressive installation of the artist’s outdoor sculpture. DM

?Jose Davila

Trained first as a sculptor and then as an architect, Dávila has a varied practice that stems from his investigation of urban and interior spaces. In exhibitions from Vienna to Valencia and in his galleries (which include Galería OMR, Mexico City; Figge von Rosen, Berlin; and Travesia Cuatro, Madrid), the Guadalajara native has displayed a knack for playful geometries that expose the ways in which our built environment orders movement, as in his Joseph Albers squares reimagined in three dimensions. This inside-out approach is also seen in site-specific installations that demarcate a room’s architecture and in his series of altered photographs in which well-known images of artworks or artists have been removed. Works from these have been acquired by the Albright-Knox and the Colección Jumex, among others. According to Rebecca Gremmo of London’s Max Wigram Gallery, where Dávila’s first solo show in a U.K. gallery, “Shadow as Rumor,” is currently on view through July 13, “he has had considerable success with us at various art fairs.” The cutout series is among the most popular, with prices starting at $25,000 and going up to $100,000. — SPH

Roe Ethridge

When Goldman Sachs commissioned Ethridge to document construction of its New York headquarters, they sought to engage the astute eye typically focused on gamine models, rotting still lifes, advertisements, and pixelated screen grabs, which he then manipulates to illuminate their flaws. “His work pivots on this very strange edge between commercial and poetic,” says Rachel Greene of New York’s Art & Advisory. “Roe’s practice has always been full of mystery, which is why I think his collectors keep coming back to him.” Since Ethridge’s inclusion in the 2008 Whitney Biennial, his steep career incline has included a 2011 solo outing at New York’s Andrew Kreps, with a concurrent show at Gagosian Beverly Hills; a new body of work seen at Gladstone Gallery’s Brussels outpost in the fall of 2012; and prominent inclusion in this year’s Lyon Biennale. (He’s also represented by Campoli Presti in London.) Auction results have ranged from $4,000 to $20,000. —RW

Sandra Gamarra

In 2002 Gamarra founded the Lima Museum of Contemporary Art, a theoretical institution populated with her own renditions of art and artifacts cribbed from museums around the world. Her appropriations of images from art history can be charmingly naive in style, yet affect a pointed study of how our memories, cultural and personal, are constructed. Often arriving in groups, they are vaguely scientific in their act of quantification but achieve discursive, dreamlike results. For her exhibition this past spring at the Juana de Aizpuru gallery, in Madrid, Gamarra (also represented by Galeria Leme of São Paulo, as well as Galería Lucía de la Puente, in Lima) repainted some of her own pieces. The Peru-born artist, now based in Spain, explains that in pre-Columbian cultures, time was seen as circular; past and future ran in the same direction. According to de Aizpuru, “She’s an artist who uses painting as a means to do conceptual works,” which have been acquired by Tate Modern and the Museum of Modern Art. Her larger canvases, which range from €30,000 to €40,000 ($40–50,000), collapse many referents in one space and pose questions rather than providing answers. Next up is a group show at Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna, curated by Adriano Pedrosa. —SPH

Tom Friedman

At 48, Friedman hasn’t strayed far from the ephemeral antics of his early practice, when he filled a square marked on the wall with the contents of a tube of blue gel toothpaste or chewed enough bubble gum to create a five-inch-diameter sphere, installing it in a gallery corner where viewers were treated to its distinctive odor. Although vultures dined on the seeming decline of the artist’s market and practice following his move to Gagosian Gallery in 2006, his cult-like following patiently bided its time. That faith was rewarded last year when, after departing Gagosian for Luhring Augustine Gallery, Friedman enjoyed his first New York exhibition in seven years. “It was a really successful show,” says gallery director Lauren Wittels. “People had been waiting a long time for it.” (Friedman is also represented by Stephen Friedman, in London, John Berggruen, in San Francisco, and Tomio Koyama in Tokyo.) Current works, such as a life-size pea and a wall-size pizza, however, are now made of foam rather than potentially deteriorating materials. This speaks well for the future condition of these pieces coming to his secondary market, which recently has dipped and risen, depending on what’s on the block. Making its commitment clear, Luhring Augustine devoted its entire Frieze New York booth to Friedman, whose works ranged in price from $35,000 to $275,000. Those hungry for a large pizza, however, were out of luck. It sold a month before the fair opened. —DW

Abdulnasser Gharem

Gharem is not only a central figure in the isolated, rapidly changing, contemporary Saudi art community but also the highest-selling living Persian Gulf artist. He has held this position since 2011, when his copper-and-wood Message/ Messenger, 2010, sold for more than $800,000 at Christie’s Dubai. His day job as a lieutenant colonel in the Saudi army might provide fodder for the bureaucratic nature of his performances, site-specific installations, and paintings, which are largely done as calligraphic rubber stamps. As a cultural activist, Gharem is helping grow the Gulf’s art world infrastructure through his contributions to the nonprofit Edge of Arabia exhibitions. His work is held by the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Museum, the François Pinault Collection, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and in October he will have his first outing with Ayyam Gallery in London, which also has venues in Damascus, Beirut, Dubai, and Jeddah. —Sehba Mohammad

Jacob Hashimoto

The seductive beauty of Hashimoto’s work is cleverly deceptive. Although the traditional materials used by this Japanese-American—rice paper, bamboo, and string, usually formed into kites—threaten to induce a one-dimensional interpretation of chrysanthemum-like lyricism, the compositions’ astute draw on both pop culture and art history gives them the power of a double-edged sword. This cunning balance makes Hashimoto a perennial crowd favorite at fairs. “We’ve sold everything we’ve ever had of Jacob’s pretty readily,” says Mary Boone director Ron Warren, who brought four of the artist’s works to Art Basel Miami Beach last December. It also makes him a natural choice for institutional and commercial commissions, completed for clients such as the University of Houston and Andaz West Hollywood, requests for which come so frequently that the 30-year-old has the luxury of picking and choosing his projects. Prices for installations vary depending on scale, but wall pieces currently sell for $45,000 to $75,000. In May, Hashimoto opened his seventh show at Studio la Città in Verona, Italy, where he has added a home to his New York City base. (He is also represented by Rhona Hoffman Gallery, in Chicago, Ronchini Gallery in London, and Helsinki’s Galerie Forsblom.) —DW

Hayv Kahraman

In the Baghdad-born painter’s highly stylized oeuvre, raven-haired beauties wax each other’s upper lips, Botox each other’s wrinkles, clutch each other in solidarity, and pose gracefully in the nude. “She tackles femininity in the Middle East, the role of women, and the role of beauty,” says Hala Khayat, a specialist in modern and contemporary Arab, Iranian, and Turkish art at Christie’s Dubai, where Kahraman’s The Triangle, 2012, realized $98,500 on a $25,000-to-$30,000 estimate last fall. “Technically she’s very strong,” Khayat adds. “I visit a lot of collectors who own her work in New York and London, as well as here in Dubai.” Many more are actively looking for pieces, which tend to sell quickly on the primary market. Kahraman, who studied in Florence and is based in Oakland, California, exhibits with the Third Line, in Dubai, and Jack Shainman in New York; her work has been acquired by the Saatchi Gallery, the Rubell Family Collection, and Qatar’s Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art. —RW

Ali Kazma

Kazma’s videos have a hypnotic quality—his recent works include portraits of a butcher, a brain surgeon, and a desk clerk, all executing their respective tasks with grace, rigor, and studied precision. In the past three years, such pieces (which sell for upwards of $15,000 at New York’s C24 Gallery, Milan’s Francesca Minini, and Qbox, in Athens) have propelled the Istanbul-based artist to international acclaim: The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden hosted a solo exhibition of his work last year, and the artist will represent his native Turkey at this summer’s Venice Biennale. “Kazma often focuses on movement, labor, and the nature of beauty in the unobvious,” C24 director Lisa De Simone says of the artist’s appeal. “He translates seemingly mundane actions into something mesmerizing, romantic, timeless. His films are often shot in restricted sites, making them even more mythical.” They are also rare, produced in strict editions of five, with two artist proofs. —RW

Rosy Keyser

Keyser’s rough-hewn, large-scale panels in a rusted palette grapple with the legacy of Abstract Expressionism in an almost literal sense—labor is intimated on every surface. According to Renée Albada Jelgersma of the Peter Blum Gallery, in New York, where Keyser recently had her fourth solo show, the artist is interested in “the idea that energy can be changed but never disappears completely.” Instead, it skips from canvas to canvas, transmitting a rhythm like a song or a poem. Newer, shaped canvases like Mnemonic Land Device (For Blind Willie McTell), 2013, incorporating egg cartons, broomstick brush, corrugated metal, and wire, recall Rauschenberg’s “Combines,” but the hillbilly materials belie a rigorous internal logic. Prices range from $45,000 to $75,000, but they’re not likely to stay at that level for long: She has found fans in Poju and Anita Zabludowicz and Stuart and Maxine Frankel, and she is included in “Painter Painter” at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, on view through October. —SPH

Idris Khan

At 35, this Welsh and South Asian artist has exhibited at the Guggenheim and the Centre Pompidou; has global representation, including Yvon Lambert, in Paris, Galerie Thomas Schulte, in Berlin, Fraenkel Gallery, in San Francisco, and Sean Kelly, in New York; and is featured in prominent private holdings, such as the Saatchi Collection. His distinctive overlaying of digital images results in eerie, minimalist photographs, videos, and sculptures that draw from literature, theology, and classical music. “Khan constantly invents new series that have proved very successful with collectors,” says Fabian Lang, of London’s Victoria Miro Gallery, the artist’s representative since 2005. At last month’s Frieze New York, videos in Miro’s booth ranged in price from $67,000 to $76,000. At auction, a unique triptych of mural prints based on the Bechers oeuvre doubled its high estimate to reach £181,250 ($290,000) at Christie’s London last October. —SM

Ragnar Kjartansson

In a slow-burning career, this Icelandic artist has produced painting, drawing, sculpture, and video installations. Represented by Luhring Augustine in New York and i8 in his native Reykjavík, Kjartansson has earned strong institutional support, with many acquiring pieces such as The Visitors, 2012, a multiscreen installation priced at $125,000. The artist staged The End—Venice at the 2009 Venice Biennale, a months-long live performance during which he made paintings exclusively of fellow Icelandic artist Páll Haukur Björnsson. The 144 works—initially exhibited salon-style at Luhring Augustine—were sold for approximately $250,000 to Turin’s Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo. Individual paintings, mostly landscapes, sell for around $6,000 to $10,000. The online vendor Artspace works with i8 to sell modestly priced works, such as drawings from the artist’s “Lick” series ($4,000); a hand-painted sculpture, Feuerchen! (“Little Fire”), an edition of 30, quickly sold out for around $600 each. “Amid the humor, melancholy, and romanticism, Ragnar’s work really moves people,” says i8 owner Börkur Arnarson. Savvy collectors would be wise to snap up one of the artist’s neons, which sell in the range of $55,000, as museums foster his rapid climb. —Scott Indrisek

Lu Song

Lu’s moody and mysterious landscapes, many bearing a Richter-like blur and elements of Surrealism, have been highly sought by international collectors ever since his 2010 solo debut at the Alexander Ochs Gallery in Beijing. His appeal lies in the hybridity seen in much recent contemporary Asian work. “He uses Western colors but applies his paints with a Chinese brushstroke,” explains Ochs, who runs a space out of Berlin as well. (Lu splits his time between the two cities). “He feels like a European artist; he is very romantic. But he also captures the melancholy currently prevailing in China,” Ochs adds. “It’s a position in between cultures that many people can relate to.” Lu’s price points are still extremely approachable at $4,000 to $15,000, but perhaps not for long—his work was featured prominently in a group show at Sean Kelly, in New York, this spring. —RW

Nathan Mabry

Collectors looking for clever humor might turn to the sculptures and drawings of West Coast native Mabry, who enjoyed his first solo outing at New York’s Sean Kelly gallery this past spring. (He is also represented by Cherry and Martin, in Los Angeles, and Praz-Delavallade, in Paris.) “He takes modernism and plays with it, mixing it with different ethnographic sources,” says Kelly. The show’s mashup of stylistic references included pre-Columbian iconography, the sculpture of Donald Judd and Richard Serra, and surf culture. Setting Mabry apart from his peers, according to the dealer, is “something that seems simplistic: quality.” Prices ranged from $40,000 to $75,000, and several pieces sold in the show’s first weeks. Mabry’s strong Los Angeles collector base is enhanced by a roster of fans in Europe and Korea. A solo show at the Nasher Sculpture Center, in Dallas, opened last April, and prices for the commissioned work featured in that show started at $350,000. —EK

Justine Kurland

Kurland “is working in the great tradition of American landscape photography—of Carleton Watkins, of Timothy O’Sullivan,” says Jay Gorney, a director at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, where her work sells for $6,500 to $12,000. Indeed, the world around us figures prominently in the New York photographer’s oeuvre, which includes images of lush Western vistas speckled with members of willfully off-the-grid families, communes, and resilient vagabonds in transit. Her work is avidly collected by such museums as the Guggenheim, the Whitney, the National Gallery of Art, and the Henry Art Gallery, in Seattle. And in addition to Mitchell-Innes & Nash, Kurland exhibits with Frank Elbaz, in Paris, Elizabeth Leach, in Portland, Oregon, and Monte Clark, in Vancouver. “She tends to be collected by people who really understand photography,” Gorney notes. “Even when they’re photographs of trainspotters and hobos, they’re beautifully composed and visually arresting. She treats her subjects with dignity and intelligence.” —RW