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Will These 100 Artists, Let Alone Works of Art, Define Us?

It takes a lot of nerve, and the willingness to be wrong, incredibly wrong, to write the book that Kelly Grovier published in the U.S. this month (and in September in the U.K.).

51aru2yd4vL__SY300_It’s called 100 Works of Art That Will Define Our Age, and it’s a list of paintings, sculptures, drawings, installations, performances, and video pieces, made between 1989 and the present. Grovier is “an American poet, historian, and art critic,” according to his Wikipedia page, and “contributes regularly to the Times Literary Supplement and is co-founder of the scholarly journal European Romantic Review. He was born in Michigan and now lives in England,” according to his description on

So in this book, which I have not seen, Grovier forecasts that his chosen 100 works will endure and come to be known as Picasso’s Guernica is known. According to Grovier’s publisher, Thames and Hudson:

Accessible and incisive texts offer a biography of each piece, tracing its inception and impact, and showing how it provides a unique keyhole not only into the imagination of the artist who created it but also into the age in which we live.

You will know some of them, by the likes of Christian Marclay, Matthew Barney, Shirin Neshat, Pipilotti Rist, Nan Goldin, Jeff Koons, Cy Twombly and Xiaogang Zhang — in fact, the BBC has a slide show of works by those eight that were selected.

And many others are predictable (Abramovic, Hirst, Emin, Gursky, Viola, Holzer, Kapoor, on and on). Yet, I was surprised by others — I not only didn’t know the works, I don’t know the artists.

Take a look yourself — T&H published a list of the artists in the book.





  1. Predictably, the list is SO heavy on British artists and, in particular, the YBA.

    Glenn Brown
    The Chapmans
    Martin Creed
    Jeremy Deller
    Tracy Emin

    And that’s only A-E…

  2. The usual suspects. Ho hum.

  3. Valerie Kabov says

    Thames & Hudson are on a marketing spree at present, putting out pseudo historical vehicles like this one (another is an even more dubious 100 painters of tomorrow…), heavily skewed in favour of anglo-western artists in a reactionary turn, with scant consideration about the possibilities of where art history is heading as opposed to where it has been…

  4. Tony Reynolds says

    Having purchased and read the book, I don’t disagree with your statement that it takes a lot of nerve and willingness to be wrong to produce a book that is so presumptuous any more than I would disagree that someone writing a pseudo review of anything without actually reading/seeing it could be taken seriously.

  5. …and just in time for the holidays!

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