Work of art - the next great artist
June 19, 2020
Work of art - the next great artist

by Virtosu Art Gallery

June 19, 2020

Work of art - the next great artist

The art world is getting more interesting, complex, and dynamic every year. Enthusiasts, critics, and artists all want to know: whose work is going to be the next big thing? Whose work will be remembered in art history? Of course, practically all artists want to get to that point. In this essay, we’re looking at some of the traits of art geniuses from other periods.

Let’s see if we can predict who the next great artist of our era will be. If so, who has the authority to announce that – and if they do – do they have the insight to do that without seeing the work’s influence on the future of art? How do we define a masterpiece compared to a regular piece of art?

To start with, even the notion ‘work of art’ was heavily debated throughout the centuries of art history. Generally, it should be defined as a product of the artistic process. Since the concept of ‘art’ has fluctuated wildly through history, the term work of art changed along with it.

One of the most famous experiments played around these notions is Marcel Duchamp's Fountain, a Dadaistic play on ordinary objects with an artistic twist. Laymen outside of the art world also often complain that modern art pieces are ‘not art.’

What’s interesting about all this is that people, even those who don’t care about art at all, are offended with the free use of this word to describe a process or a product. It’s like a socially charged word that has to be handled delicately and always be re-defined.

On the other hand, there’s the notion of a masterpiece. This term implies a world-class work of art that has exquisite features that often cannot be repeated or mimicked. The ‘masterpiece’ title is assigned to any works that have:

● marked an era in history or art history
● influenced trends and movements
● made an impact as some of the most significant achievements of the human race.

Can a masterpiece be recognized instantly?

Given some of the situations that we have listed when works of art are pronounced masterpieces, it’s implied that there has to be some time to truly determine a work’s impact. Music is a great example. Some songs and compositions may be trendy in their era, but if they were not influential on other artists and eras, they are quickly forgotten or ignored.

The question is: without the historical context and without seeing into the future to determine how strong of an impact a work of art had on society, can we determine what’s a masterpiece right now?

Art criticism

Generally speaking, art criticism is currently the most accurate way to predict whether a work of art will be influential. There’s a straightforward reason for this: art critics who publish in prominent journals and magazines are influential. They will be remembered for their expertise, taste, and knowledge, as well as the artistic works they praised.

One of the most straightforward (but not guaranteed) ways to recognize the next big artist is to look at statements and predictions made by the world’s leading art critics.

There’s also a lot that can be learned on campuses around the world. Every year, there are new up-and-coming art history majors who are informed, skilled, and sharp.

The Future of Masterpieces

Will digitization influence the world of art to the point of no recognition? Happenings in the last few years show that’s a possible scenario. Namely, in 2018, an art auction house sold the world’s first AI-created work of art for over 430,000 dollars, at least it claims so. The name of the work is “The Portrait of Edmond Belamy”:

The Portrait of Edmond Belamy
The French art collective behind the painting, Obvious, used machine learning and data points from thousands of portraits throughout history. The AI-powered machine used this data to create a new, unique portrait based on all that it’s learned.

Best of all, the AI also signed its name on the lower right corner of the piece! This event was widely covered in media and especially in the art industry, but its significance is perhaps even bigger than we initially assumed.

As AI and machine learning technologies are advancing exponentially with the amount of data they “consume” and learn from, experts argue that they will one day surpass human abilities and skills. So, whether a work of art can be achieved technically or whether it needs to have a “human touch” remains unexplored, as this is the first time in history we are seeing robot artistic outputs based on the very “human. " touch” it’s allegedly missing.

Public opinion and data

Having in mind the Edmund Belamy portrait story, does this mean that computers will have an increasingly important role in how we create, perceive, share, and rate art? Absolutely. Even now, digital arts have taken huge strides of progress, and some of the biggest influencers in the art world don’t also create their work by hand (at least, not directly by hand).

This brings us to the next question: how influential will the public opinion, louder than ever, be in the forming of art opinions and criticism? If we take a look at these tendencies throughout history, we can see that the elite world has successfully struggled against rolling over and pleasing the mass taste.

However, we’re living in a society that has immensely disrupted many of old society’s conventions. Today’s world is more democratic than ever, and this democracy goes down to the deepest community source, not just surface politics. Democratization and human rights movements have influenced each and every traditional societal institution.

Instead of looking at social media or globalization as random innovations or byproducts of technological progression, we can look at them as the ultimate explosion of democratization and freedom of speech. In other words, this resulted in the fact that it’s downright impossible to ignore public opinion. If something has a billion likes, it’s influential. It’s important to our culture. It’s shaping our young minds and our society.

If an institution decides to stick with the exclusivity without a rational reason, it will become obsolete. This is the biggest danger of the contemporary art world and discovering the next big artist. We already see the beginnings of this tendency.


As we have discussed, it’s tough to predict the next big artist because we need to have a bird’s eye view of the past (background), present (environment), and future (influence) to determine whether something truly is a masterpiece. It can even be argued that we can safely expect to have more historically significant artists as the population count rises.

In short, it’s worth noting once again that the art world is changing. The modern art world will have to let down its guard and ease its exclusivity if it wants to remain impactful in a highly democratized world.

About author Author’s bio. Daniela McVicker is a contributor to Essayguard. She has a master's degree in English literature and is truly passionate about learning foreign languages and teaching. Daniela works with the students helping them to reveal the writing talent and find one true calling.

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