We here at Cut Out & Co are somewhat obsessed with color (as if you couldn’t tell by now). We love artists like Matisse and Mark Rothko, but sadly neither are still alive to capture our imaginations with blocks of color. Fortunately, their ideas and techniques have inspired many contemporary artists to continue experimenting with color arrangements and funky painting techniques. Check out these 3 artists who are still practicing today.
1. Damien Hirst
Born in Bristol, England in 1965, Damien Hirst has done a little bit of everything, from painting to sculpture to directing music videos. His big break in the art world came in 1991 with the release of The Physical Impossibilities of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, a “sculpture” depicting the body of a tiger shark preserved in formaldehyde (the critical response was mixed, to say the least). His controversial pieces led him to become one of the best selling artists of all time, with one exhibition, titled Beautiful Inside My Head Forever, selling for around $198 million with 218 artworks in 2008.
Hirst’s paintings may not have the shock factor of his other works, but the techniques are just as impressive. He experimented with spin painting, a technique in which paint is dripped or poured onto a rotating surface, allowing for organic, intricate color patterns without too much color mixing or the labor of drip painting. The most well-known of Hirst’s painted works are his spot paintings. These works consist of a series of colored dots arranged meticulously in a neat grid pattern. Because each dot in a given painting is the same size, no one color dominates the work and the viewer can more easily see the complementary relationship between the dots. Expect the unexpected with Damien Hirst.
Beautiful, amore, gasp, eye going into the top of the head and fluttering (1997)
2. Laurie Raskin
Laurie Raskin did not start out as an abstract artist; after studying graphic design at the California Institute of the Arts, she primarily worked in architecture and interior design until around 2008, even helping to design an official poster for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Not only does she still continue to attract audiences to her solo shows at prestigious galleries, she has inspired an entire fashion line (created by the UK-based brand Art on Fashion), designed over 100 murals for various stores, and even helped design a series of carpets for a shop in Brussels, Belgium (Didden and Co).
Raskin takes direct inspiration from, of course, Henri Matisse. She combines paper cut-outs, often times simply black or white, with a variety of real photos. Her works are deeply personal, taking much inspiration from her childhood in 1960’s Los Angeles and often employing photographs from the books and magazines she owned during that time. She often uses images of smiling women, dressed in funky outfits typical of the ‘60’s, and contrasts them with bright, vivid colored shapes, set up in such a way to always draw the viewer’s eye to those images. Take note of how she arranges blocks of color and the repetition of imagery and themes throughout her work.
Mass Transit (2012)
The Diver Girl 4 (2017)
3. Frank Ammerlaan
Born in the Netherlands in 1979, Frank Ammerlaan is one of the most creative artists of any genre working today. Though his training is of the highest caliber, graduating from the Royal College of Art in London in 2012, Ammerlaan does not discriminate when it comes to incorporating materials in his art, using things such as thread, scrap metal, PVC pipes, and even meteorite particles. His inventiveness has landed him exhibitions at galleries in Amsterdam, London, New York, and even São Paulo, Brazil.
Though he does many art forms, his paintings are world-renowned. Ammerlaan tends to focus more on the act of painting rather than the final work itself. Each painting is done in one attempt. He often uses a black canvas, rather than the typical white, and usually doesn’t include more than a couple different colors. The difference in the colors in a given painting aren’t easily distinguishable nor do they matter much for Ammerlaan. He often lays pieces of string on the canvas as a way of, as he puts it, incorporating “mathematical truth” to abstract colors and shapes. The pattern of the threads can even change how the painting is seen in different lighting. He also loves painting with oil and chemicals; in 2010, after consulting with various chemists, he found a way to emulate the mesmerizing rainbow patterns often seen in oil slicks after rain storms. Ammerlaan is a good example of how one can draw attention while using darker, less accessible colors.