If in finance the term Blue Chip comes from the infamous stock market and it refers to a stock that sells at a high price – due to public assurance and confidence in predicting a long record of steady earnings, in the art market, the same thing happens when it comes to artists and their respective artworks.
If an artist whose work price exceeds 1M euros while showing consistent years of sales, it will, without a doubt, be confirmed at auction that this artist is a Blue Chip.
The works of Blue Chip artists not only have great economic value but, these renown art pieces represent a safe and reliable investment because their value will remain stable over time, despite the ups and downs of the economy.
So, without further ado, we will be going over 5 Blue Chip living Artists whose market value seems – quite frankly, unstoppable.
KAWS: The Cool Underground
It is no coincidence that some critics compare Kaws to legends like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. What do they have in common? All of these artists were born in the United States, they all started their career in the streets, and became Blue Chip while alive.
Born in 1974 in New Jersey, Brian Donnelly, aka KAWS, is a multidisciplinary New York-based artist. KAWS began his career as a graffiti artist in Jersey City and, by the 1990s, moved to New York to pursue a formal education in the arts where he graduated with a BA in Illustration in 1996.
That same year, he began working as a freelance animator for one of the Walt Disney Company animation studios, where he painting backgrounds to some of its best-known animated series such as 101 Dalmatians, Daria and Doug.
This impressive start, led him to have a very distinctive and successful career path. With almost immediate recognition, KAWS quickly and easily became one of the most renowned contemporary artists up until this day. Having exhibited in internationally acclaimed museums and galleries, being held in permanent private and public collections to partaking in multiple published books and collaborating with well-known institutions, brands and celebrities, KAWS’ impressive work is a mysterious fine line between commercial and Fine Art.
Hence his style being slightly controversial… KAWS’ work isn’t exactly as traditional as one would expect when hearing the words ‘Fine Art’, so, instead, ‘The Cool Underground’ would be the best way to describe him.
In 2019, THE KAWS ALBUM (2005) sold at auction for an impressive 14.8 M US Dollars, breaking his previous auction records of 2.7M US Dollars, back in 2018.
Jeff Koons: The Rich Uncle
If Kaws was compared to Basquiat and Keith Haring, then, the best way to describe and compare Jeff Koons would be to mention Andy Warhol, right? Well, both of these artists were able to transform daily, mundane objects into the most prestigious and iconic Art to ever exist…
Uncle Jeff (- he does give off the cool rich uncle vibes, doesn’t he? It can’t be just us…!) was born in York, Pennsylvania. From 1972 to 1976, he studied Art and Design at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and the Art Institute of Chicago. Jeff Koons rose to prominence in the mid-1980s as part of a generation of artists who explored the meaning of art in a media-saturated era. After moving to New York, Koons took a job at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), working as a receptionist at the membership desk. He attracted attention by wearing polka-dot shirts, big bow ties and, occasionally, an inflatable plastic flower. Before he had the economic means to support himself solely through art, Koons worked as a commodity trader on Wall Street.
But, not even the most normal 9 to 5 jobs could stop Koons from becoming one of the most acclaimed artists of this Century.
The famous Balloon Dog (Orange Sculpture) was sold for $52M US dollars in November 2013 at Christie’s.
Breaking some of his own auction records, he is currently the most expensive living artist. His rabbit created in 1986 was sold in 2019 on Christie’s for 91.1M Us Dollars.
Banksy: The Martyr
Banksy began his career as a graffiti artist in the early 1990s, in Bristol’s graffiti gang DryBreadZ Crew. Although his early work was largely freehand, Banksy used stencils on occasion. In the late ’90s, he began using stencils predominantly. His work became more widely recognized around Bristol and in London, as his signature style developed.
Banksy’s artwork is characterized by striking images, often combined with slogans. His work often engages political themes, satirically critiquing war, capitalism, hypocrisy and greed. Common subjects include rats, apes, policemen, members of the royal family, and children. In addition to his two-dimensional work, Banksy is also known for his installation artwork.
Why the Martyr you ask? Banksy has chosen to remain anonymous and for the most part, to just be able to paint graffiti on other people’s property without their permission, rather than to paint it on canvases or his own property…
He chose anonymity over his intellectual property rights, now that’s something you don’t see every day.
In 2019 at Sotheby’s, his enormous painting ‘Devolved Parliament’ (2009) smashed its high estimate of £2 million ($2.4 million) to sell for £9.8 million ($12.1 million).
Daniel Arsham: Hot Young Talent
Daniel Arsham has the power to mix and match different artistic fields, always in an outstanding way. Raised in Miami, Florida, he moved to New York in 1999 thanks to a full scholarship. After graduating, Arsham moved back to Miami and started an exhibition space called “The House” with several artist friends. It was during that period that Daniel met Emmanuel Perrotin and one year after that, Gallerie Perrotin started representing him.
Some of Arsham’s more recent endeavours are in the fashion world, including collaborations with Adidas Originals and Kim Jones of Dior.
Hot Young talent is definitely the best expression to describe him once we don’t see many people achieving what he achieved in such a short period of time.
Damien Hirst: The Sugar Daddy
As one of the Young British Artists (YBA’s) Damien Hirst gained popularity from using Death as a reoccurring theme in his works. His most recognizable and iconic art pieces consist of dead, dissected animals preserved in formaldehyde.
His most famous animal piece is called The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, and it’s a 14-foot (4.3 m) tiger shark immersed in formaldehyde in a clear display case.
The Shark is undoubtedly saluted as one of the crucial works of British art in the 1990s and has become a symbol of Britart globally. It was then sold for a New York investment banker for 12M dollars.
We decided to name him as a Sugar Daddy because… Well, because his dating life and relationship choices can be seen as questionable – to say the least.
In one auction, the artist dubbed “Beautiful Inside My Head Forever,” and surprisingly, the art piece exceeded all expectations, grossing 200.75$ million over the course of two sales in the span of 24 hours, becoming the most expensive single-artist auction ever.
- Blue Chip artists are called Blue Chip because, just like in Finance, Blue Chip means a good, strong, consistent and solid investment.
- Blue Chip artists are usually well-known artists that are bound to set exponential growth sales at auction houses.
- Artists that are Blue Chip tend to be famous and recognized for iconic art pieces that shaped and marked history in the most critical, controversial and polemic way possible.