Iceland’s top ranked artists on Artfacts.

Land of fire, ice, and talented artists.

Did you know that you can look at the top ranked artists of any country by typing that country into our search engine? Once on the country page, scroll down to artists, click “sort by rank” and voila!

This week we’re looking at the top artists of Iceland. Rather than discussing the full careers of the artists, we’ll be focusing on briefly deciphering their trends graphs for you.

Ragnar Kjartansson (B.1976)
Ranked 180 globally, 1 in Iceland
Lives and works in Reykjavík.

The multi-disciplinary artist who creates video installations, performances, drawings, and paintings had an exponential ranking increase in the beginning of his career which has since levelled off, but still continues to climb. The exhibitions that appear to have set his career off were: MOMENTUM the 2004 Nordic Biennial of Contemporary Art in Norway and the Group Show; Where Do We Go From Here at the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in New York. He’s remained in the top 5,000 globally ranked artists since 2006.

Erró (B.1932)
Ranked 569 globally, 2 in Iceland
Lives between Paris, Thailand, and Formentera, Spain.

The Pop artist, who depicts comic books, cartoons, Picasso paintings and Mao, has some interesting points in his trends graph. Participating in no exhibitions between 77- 82 resulted in a significant drop in his rankings. From ranking 369 in ‘77, he had dropped to 5,434 by ‘84: the lowest rank in his career. This drop was turned around quickly between ‘85 and ‘86 by his participation in two important biennales (Paris ‘85, Venice ‘86), one art fair (FIAC ‘85), and two solo exhibitions at Museums (MAM/ARC ‘85, MUMOK ‘86). He has remained in the top 2,000 globally ranked artists since.

Hreinn Friðfinnsson (B.1943)
Ranked 2,178 globally, 3 in Iceland
Live’s in Amsterdam.

The Conceptual artist, a lover of storytelling, experienced declining rankings at the beginning of his career, though it seems the 5 group exhibitions he participated in between ‘89 and ‘91 along with a Solo exhibition in ‘91 at Galerie van Gelder changed that back into an initial exponential growth, and then more consistent rankings. Interestingly he also participated in the same two exhibitions in 2004 that seemed to have set off Ragnar Kjartansson’s career. He’s remained in the top 3,500 globally ranked artists since.

Hrafnhildur Arnardottir (B.1969)
Ranked 2,408 globally, 4 in Iceland
Based in New York.

The Contemporary artist, also known as Shoplifter, is recognised for her sculptures, wall murals and site-specific installations which use synthetic and human hair. Her career had exponential growth at the beginning, with her first five years consisting of only group shows. Her first peak was in ‘10 at 5,339, her first trough was in 2015, at 14,487, and her ranking has been more consistent since 2019- when she participated in the Venice Biennale.

Libia Castro & Ólafur Ólafsson (Formed:1997)
Ranked 2,576 globally, 5 in Iceland, 73 in Spain
Based in Rotterdam and Berlin.

The fifth artist in our list is actually a duo,with only one half of the duo hailing from Iceland. The Contemporary installation and site-specific artists participated in the 8. Bienal de La Habana early on in their professional career where they joined artists such as Otobong Nkanga and Ernesto Neto, which presumably resulted in a relatively high ranking in the 15,000’s) to start their career with. They represented Iceland in the 2011 Venice Biennale, and their trajectory has levelled off since then, staying in the top 3,000 globally ranked artists since.

A very quick observation of key data points can really tell us a lot about an artist’s career.

Try it out: have a quick search of your favourite country, and see what artists are top ranked. It’s a fun and easy way to find new artists, and when looking at trends and biographies, to learn about how art careers are built.

Let’s make history happen.

The Artfacts Team