5 Groundbreaking New York Artists to Know

Up And Coming New York ArtistsNew York may have been a city founded on commerce, but it has long had a strong a relationship with the arts. The open and varied environment of America’s largest city offers a perfect home for many artists and their work. Here are just a few successful artists who have used New York City as a base and a home:

Claes Oldenburg

Born in Stockholm and educated in Chicago, New Haven, and New York City, Oldenburg first found success in the Manhattan art scene of the 1950s. Oldenburg used different materials for his abstract and compelling sculptures, including stockings, papier-mâché, enamel, and plaster. Oldenburg’s representations of everyday items fit in perfectly with the burgeoning Pop Art movement of the early ’60s, and he connected with several other New York artists to help incorporate his works into larger performance art events. Today, Oldenburg is famous for his often massive sculptures, such as “Typewriter Eraser, Scale X”, currently displayed at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt

Lanigan-Schmidt is another New York City artist who received recognition for work with a relatively lighthearted feel, which was displayed in a MoMA exhibit in 2012-2013, “Tender Love Among the Junk”. Lanigan-Schmidt’s mixed-media constructions incorporate inexpensive materials such as foil, tinsel, and glitter, giving them a unique look. Like many other great New York artists, Lanigan-Schmidt hailed from out of town – New Jersey to be precise – but became absorbed into the city’s history in 1969 after taking part in the Stonewall Riots. The artist got his start around the same time by creating his own exhibitions and guiding art patrons through them as Ethel Dull, a character he created.

Ann Liv Young

Ann Liv Young is among the most gutsy and eccentric of artists: the performance artist. Young garnered a reputation for being especially bold and making art patrons uncomfortable in the best way possible. While rising in prominence in the NYC art world, Young created her own style and mythology. Her style involved improvisation and audience participation, with her fairy-tale inspired mythology and alter ego, Sherry.

Alexandria Smith

Unlike other successful New York artists, Alexandria Smith is no transplant. The artist was born in the NYC borough of The Bronx and grew up a few miles away in New Rochelle, New York. Smith is now based in the artists’ haven of Brooklyn, and works mainly through painting and drawing. Smith’s works deal with issues of identity and modern society, generally from the perspective of young, African American girls. Not only is Smith a native to the New York metro area, but her art education was also regional, beginning with a degree in illustration at Syracuse University, before getting her Masters in Art Education at New York University and an MFA in Drawing and Painting at Parsons The New School of Design. As New York-centric as Smith’s upbringing and education were, much of her work is caught in a world between urban and rural life.

Aurel Schmidt

New York’s incredibly rich culture can be linked to its relationship with immigrants who have been accepted into the city for centuries. New York-based immigrant artists have come from all over the world, from as far as Japan and as nearby as Canada. Up-and-coming young artist Aurel Schmidt hails from British Columbia, and his elaborate, complex works of visual art contain many different themes and intricacies. Schmidt already has a career that is the envy of other rising New York artists, having been featured in the Whitney Museum and written about in “Interview” and “The New York Times Magazine”.


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 Photo by Wei Tchou

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