Seven Artists Who Took Their Careers to the Next Level

Seven Artists Who Took Their Careers to the Next Level

2021 was a year of new thinking, transition, and innovative connections. These artists, whose work spans mediums and styles, have seized the momentum to catapult their careers to the next level. Whether by investigating a new craft or deepening existing practices, these creatives have captured the attention of viewers worldwide, exploring topics central to the reality of existing in the 21st-century including increasing digitalization, economic struggle, exploring gender identity and addressing racial discrimination. These first steps forward are sure to be the first of many.

Photography by Ilia Ovechkin.

Amalia Ulman

Argentinian artist Amalia Ulman solidified her status as a noteworthy film director, through her absurdist comedy El Planeta.

Jennifer Packer in her temporary studio in Rome, where she spent the year after winning the American Academy’s coveted Rome Prize. Portrait by Manfredi Gioacchini.

Jennifer Packer

After winning the American Academy in Rome’s coveted Prize for art, Jennifer Packer deepened her craft and launched her solo exhibition, “the Eye is Not Satisfied with Seeing,” currently on view at New York’s Whitney Museum.

Robert Nava, Cloud Rider Angel, 2020. © Robert Nava; Courtesy the artist and Vito Schnabel Gallery.

Robert Nava

Brooklyn-based artist Robert Nava opened his first New York solo show in February 2021, featuring imaginative and fantastical shapes and angelic figures. Since then, his paintings have caused an art world stir, attracting some of the most prominent collectors.

Painter Lauren Quin in her Los Angeles studio, with Butter at her feet. Photography by Caity Krone.

Lauren Quin

Having just earned her MFA from Yale in 2019, Lauren Quin is relatively new to the art scene– but already has made a large impression. Her works are being sold for thousands above asking price and she had two solo shows this past summer in San Francisco and Stockholm.

Alma Allen, Not Yet Titled, 2021.

Alma Allen

Self-taught artist Alma Allen showcased his animative sculptures to New York in an outdoor installation with Kasmin Gallery on the High Line, the first time his large-scale works have been exhibited. The mix of natural elements with his work resulted in a multidimensional viewing experience.

Michael Bailey-Gates. Portrait by Thomas Whiteside.

Michael Bailey-Gates

In fall 2021, photographer Michael Bailey-Gates released a book and an exhibition both entitled, “A Glint in the Kindling,” which address the unraveling of the socially constructed concept of gender.

Self-Portrait. Courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co. New York and David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles.

Deana Lawson

After winning the Guggenheim’s 2020 Hugo Boss Prize, Deana Lawson opened an exhibition of her photography at the Guggenheim this past spring to great acclaim.