Kent Logan, a retired securities industry executive who now lives in Vail, Colo., is a passionate collector of contemporary art. He spends much of his free time scouring the globe for new artists he finds interesting. He also has a long history of picking up works by artists before they become really hot -- and before their prices soar. Logan has one of the largest private collections of works by Andy Warhol, for instance, bought before the big upsurge in Warhol prices.
Logan also has major holdings of works by some of the world's most in-demand artists, including Cindy Sherman, Jeff Koons, British artist Damien Hirst, and German photographers Andreas Gursky and Thomas Struth. In the last few years, for important pieces sold at auction most of those artists have seen their prices soar into the $500,000-and-up range.
The obvious question for Logan now: Which emerging artists are about to see their careers take off? His take is that the center of creativity has shifted from London -- where Hirst and the so-called Young British Artists were red-hot in the 1990s -- to Berlin. Logan likes a group of young German artists who hang around with an up-and-coming painter named Franz Ackermann, 40. But the Berlin crowd's prices show signs of accelerating off, so Logan is also scouting artists in other cities, including New York. Many of the paintings he's buying now are in a style he terms "the New Surrealism."
For BusinessWeek Online, Logan put together a list of 10 artists with "the best potential for curatorial and capital appreciation." He didn't want to rank them, so here they are in alphabetical order, with the collector's take on each. You can check out their work at the gallery Web sites mentioned below:
Franz Ackermann (German, born 1963): "He's really the center of the Berlin artists, much in the way Hirst was in London," Logan says. In his paintings, Ackermann usually starts from a realistic image and then makes it abstract. He's a pioneer of the new surrealistic style developing among artists in New York and Berlin. Logan says prices of his paintings have about doubled in the last couple of years, to the $50,000 to $60,000 range. Ackermann shows at the Neugerriemschneider Gallery in Berlin and at Gavin Brown's Enterprise in New York (212 431-1512).
George Condo (American, born 1947): Condo was a celebrated New York artist in the 1980s, but his work lost much of its cachet in the 1990s. Lately, he has switched to a new gallery, New York's Luhring Augustine, and his prices have risen to the $50,000 to $70,000 range, Logan says. That's about triple what they were a few years ago, but less than in the 1980s. Logan calls Condo the "godfather of the New Surrealism" and an important influence on younger artists who have taken up the style.
Brad Kahlhammer (American, born 1956): His work is sometimes compared with that of artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Willem de Kooning. Prices are in the $15,000 to $20,000 range. Represented by Deitch Projects in New York (212 343-2300).
Carla Klein (Dutch, born 1970): A Rotterdam artist, she turns scenes at airports and in other modern architectural settings into paintings resembling abstract landscapes. Priced in the $15,000 range. She shows at the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in the Chelsea area of New York City.
Jason Middlebrook (American, born 1966): Born in Jackson, Mich., Middlebrook now lives and works in Brooklyn, N.Y. The paintings in his latest show make references to well-known post-1960s artists such as Jeff Koons. Logan says Middlebrook is "exploring the icons we sent up in art" and underscoring the fact that "a lot of what we worship in art is destined to end up turning into dust." Logan likes Middlebrook's paintings, which are priced in the $6,000 to $16,000 range, but the artist also creates large installations that are more expensive. Middlebrook shows at Sara Meltzer Gallery in New York.
Thomas Scheibitz (German, born 1968): A sort of post-Cubist artist, Scheibitz is one of the Berlin-based artists associated with Ackermann. Scheibitz' paintings are colorful and contain fragments of architectural shapes that are recognizable but form an abstract image. Prices in the $30,000 range. Shows at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in New York.
Pieter Schoolwerth (American, born 1970): St. Louis-born and educated in California, he now lives and works in New York. Logan considers Schoolwerth another of the New Surrealists. Schoolwerth's paintings are densely populated urban and suburban scenes with as many as 20 or 25 people. He paints only about a half-dozen works per year, and they're priced in the $15,000 to $20,000 range. Schoolwerth shows at Elizabeth Dee Gallery in New York.
Dirk Skreber (German, born 1961): Another of the young Berlin artists. Prices in the $35,000 range. He shows at Blum & Poe Gallery in Los Angeles and at Friedrich Petzel Gallery in New York.
Sue-en Wong (Born in Singapore, 1973): She studied at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago and now lives and works in New York. Her paintings are often self-portraits that explore the difficulties of the transition from childhood to adolescence to adulthood and her identity as an Asian woman. Prices in the $10,000 to $15,000 range. She's represented by Deitch Projects in New York and Zolla/Lieberman Gallery in Chicago.
Kehinde Wiley (American, born 1970): An African-American artist who grew up in Los Angeles and now lives and works in New York. He paints Old-Master-style portraits of young black men he meets on the streets, mainly in Harlem. The subjects may assume poses found in portraits by artists such as Titian and Tiepolo, situating them in positions of power and historical significance. Prices in the $10,000 to $15,000 range. Shows at Deitch Projects in New York.