At the start of 2020, it was impossible to predict that this year would transform the art world as we knew it. By March, the COVID-19 pandemic began to throw entire years of museum, gallery, and biennial exhibitions into the balance, and it may have forever rocked the international art fair circuit. In June, the Black Lives Matter movement swept through the art world and ushered in a long overdue reckoning with the inequity and systemic racism of the art industry.
The artists below were at the forefront of these waves of change. They created fresh work to live up to this moment and launched fundraisers and initiatives to aid victims of COVID-19, promote BIPOC organizations, and lift up fellow artists. Some managed to set head-spinning auction records and opened spectacular museum shows; others set career milestones and earned due recognition for their longstanding, influential practices. They represent a small fraction of the artists who inspired us this year, though they stand out as leaders who will surely guide us through the next one and whatever it may bring.
B. 1984, Accra, Ghana. Lives and works in Vienna, Austria.
B. 1974, Yate, England. Lives and works in England.
B. 1926, Los Angeles. Lives and works in Los Angeles.
B. 1980, Orange County, California. Lives and works in Berlin.
B. 1979, Rochester, New York. Lives and works in New York.
B. 1934, Guyana. Lives and works in London and New York.
B. 1960, Chelmsford, England. Lives and works in London.
B. 1971, Seoul. Lives and works in Seoul and Berlin.
B. 1984, Toronto. D. 2019, Edmonton, Canada.
B. 1983, Los Angeles. Lives and works in Los Angeles.
B. 1973, Lima. Lives and works in Lima.
B. 1985, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. Lives and works in New York.
B. 1981, Apsáalooke (Crow) reservation, Montana. Lives and works in Portland, Oregon.
B. 1926, Norwalk, California. D. 2013, San Francisco.
B. 1964, Beijing. Lives and works in Beijing.
B. 1976, Kalamazoo, Michigan. Lives and works in New Haven, Connecticut.
B. 1980, Lausanne, Switzerland. Lives and works in New York and Brussels.
B. 1970, Sydney. Lives and works in Melbourne.
B. Umlazi, Durban, South Africa. Lives and works in Johannesburg.
B. 1980, Beirut. Lives and works in Paris.
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