Success, glamor, and recognition: for a painter, many times, life is not long enough to really become successful. Hard work, management, a lot of time and energy invested from both the creator’s and the gallery’s or auction site’s side. There’s not even an instant recipe for who can become a really good painter. We are now turning our attention to Eastern Europe, and in our selection we have gathered our favorites from the outstandingly successful artists of the region.
Adrian Ghenie | Romania
One of the most sought and best-selling contemporary artists of Romanian descent is shamelessly young. In his large-scale works, the painter, who now lives and works in Berlin, gives the viewer a glimpse into the dark moments of contemporary history. The painter’s creative method and use of materials, which are completely at odds with the conventional, make him one of the most sought painters in Eastern Europe. Based on Van Gogh’s interpretation of Sunflowers, Sunflowers of 1937 sold for more than five times the estimated price of four and a half million dollars at Sotheby’s auction.
Julije Knifer | Croatia
At one of the most successful auctions at the Vienna-based Dorotheum, a 1969 painting called Kompozicija no. 12. by Julije Knifer, who passed away in 2004, dedicated to the continuous rethinking and re-creation of his oeuvre, was sold for a hundred and sixty-one thousand euros, breaking the record for the most expensive picture ever sold by a Croatian artist.
Arnulf Rainer | Austria
During his artistic career, the Austrian Arnulf Rainer, born in Baden, has won numerous art awards and also produced outstanding sales. With his powerful and charismatic work, in addition to numerous solo and group exhibitions, he has appeared several times at Documenta in Kassel and at the Venice Biennale.
Reigl Judit | Hungary
If we look at the international scene, the recently deceased Judit Reigl of Hungarian origin was also at the forefront. In 2015, her painting Outburst (Éclatement) was sold for a record price. She was also among the best in 2020: her paintings Ecriture en masse and Homme, made in the 1960s, were sold at Sotheby’s auction house for more than thirty million forints.
Gottfried Helnwein | Austria
Gottfried Helnwein’s name may also sound familiar. We will not forget soon the creepily realistic images of the Austrian artist as they are able to impress us in a crucial way, balancing on the border of reality and dream world. With his works he is a very successful player on the international art scene, his paintings are sold in series at auctions.