The 3 male artists under 40 in 2023


The world’s best fine art auction result in 2023 in the category of artists born after 1983 goes to Matthew WONG’s River at Dusk (黃昏的河流) which fetched the exceptional result of $6.66 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong. Three years ago, the same work was acquired at Phillips for $4.7 million, also in Hong Kong. While Matthew Wong is undoubtedly the leading artist on the Ultra-contemporary art market (his auction turnover exceeded $20 million in 2023), his premature death in 2019 has of course increased the rarity and therefore the value of his works. Artmarket therefore focuses here on still active young artists, whose market success (behind Wong) primarily occurs in the world’s three most important marketplaces for this segment of the market (Ultra-Contemporary), namely New York, London and Hong Kong.


Top three auction results for (living) male artists under 40 in 2023

  1. Dmitri CHERNIAK

Ringers #879 (The Goose) (2021) – $6.2 million, Sotheby’s New York, 15/06/2023

  1. HAO Liang

Theology and Evolution (神學與進化論) (2011) – $3.1 million, Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 05/04/2023

  1. Michael ARMITAGE

“Muliro Gardens (baboons) “ (2016) – $2.2 million, Sotheby’s London, 01/03/2023


Dmitri Cherniak

Born in 1988. Based in New York

Particularity of his work: creative coding with automatism as the medium

CHERNIAK is one of the most prominent artists in generative art today. Each of his Ringers – automatically code-generated and inspired by a 1960s Armin Hofmann book – is a random graphic proposition varying in dimensions, layout, orientation of the graphic elements and distribution of the colors. As a generative work, each Ringers has algorithms integrated into it during the NFT minting process. As one of the first projects of this type (launched in 2021), the 1,000 NFT collection Ringers project has ‘initiatory’ value and is known in the NFT ecosystem as one of the most appreciated collections of the prestigious generative art platform Art Blocks Curated. Ownership of a Ringers is seen within the NFT community as both a status symbol and a commitment to the future of generative art.

Evolution of his market:

On 15 June 2023, Ringers #879, a unique NFT from Dmitri Cherniak’s generative project, made headline news at Sotheby’s “Grails: Part II” sale when it reached $6.2 million against an already substantial estimate of $3 million. That result was one of the ten highest auction prices ever paid for an NFT on the regulated auction market. In fact, Ringers #879, had already stood out in August 2021 by selling for just under 5.66 million (on a non-regulated platform) to the crypto-hedge-fund collection, Three Arrows Capital (3AC). After the collapse of 3AC last summer, the fund delegated Sotheby’s with the dispersal of a collection called “Grails” (including the famous NFT that fetched over $6 million).

In September 2023, a less evocative Ringers (compared with #number 879, which looks a bit like a goose) sold for the much smaller sum of $68,000 at Sotheby’s Hong Kong. Among the one thousand unique iterations of Ringers, it would appear to be those with fortuitous graphic and suggestive qualities that have acquired extraordinary market value.

Dmitri Cherniak, Ringers #879

Source : Opensea

Hao Liang

Born in 1983. Based in Beijing.

Particularity of his work: Chinese tradition revisited

HAO Liang reinvents traditional Chinese ink painting. He depicts the major subjects, features and principles of traditional Chinese painting while injecting his own contemporary culture, a personal frame of reference nourished by cinema, literature and modern philosophy. The result is finely painted landscapes and portraits on silk where the techniques, themes, motifs and conventions of traditional Chinese painting are revisited and refreshed by a contemporary and cosmopolitan sensitivity.

Evolution of his market:

In 2014, HAO Liang, then 30 years old, emerged as the new darling of the Chinese Ultra-contemporary market when his The Tale of Clouds (云记) – a long roll of silk more than 13 meters long – was acquired for $912,000 at Christie’s in Shanghai. Four years later, two works by the young artist – who had just shown his works at the 57th Venice Biennale and in various group exhibitions (notably at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Pompidou Center in Paris) – were sold in Asia for 7-digit prices (in USD), one of which set a new record of $1.8 million (30 September 2018 in Hong Kong). The year 2018 brought another consecration: that of his first solo exhibition in the United States, hosted by the prestigious Gagosian gallery. In 2023, Hao Liang was confirmed as one of the most unique and highly valued young artists of our time, with a new auction record at $3.2 million at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong.

Hao Liang’s geographic distribution at auction (2000-2023) (copyright

Michael Armitage

Born in 1984. Lives and works between Nairobi and London.

Particularity of his work: African roots

Michael ARMITAGE is considered one of the best representatives of new Kenyan painting. Raised in East Africa, then trained in the UK (at the Slade School of Fine Art and the Royal Academy in London), he paints onto lugubo cloth, a material made from the bark of a Ugandan fig tree, traditionally used for shrouds or for making ritual clothing. Onto this fabric, which anchors his practice at the heart of his African roots, the artist mixes images of real and fantasized aspects of Kenya. Stories, customs, political ideologies, gossip and personal memories respond to each other in an aesthetic tension located between “European traditions and East African modernism”.

Evolution of his market:

Michael Armitage’s career was rapidly propelled onto the major international stages: in 2017, the prestigious White Cube introduced the artist to Hong Kong via an exhibition titled Strange Fruit, a title that refers to a famous poem/song about the lynching of African Americans. In 2019, his works attracted a lot of interest at the 58th Venice Biennale (May you live in interesting times) and at the MoMA in New York (Projects 110: Michael Armitage), while his canvas “The Conservationists” (2015) fetched $1.52 million, no less than 25 times its mid-range estimate at Sotheby’s New York. In 2020, he was selected among the Whitechapel Gallery’s 10 artists in its Radical Figures, Painting in the New Millennium show, and then in 2021, London’s Royal Academy elected him a “Royal Academician of Painting”. With such a brilliant career under his belt, Armitage is clearly one of the most desirable Contemporary artists on the market, but his works are very rare at auction. Today, the prices of his work can exceed $2 million, as we saw in March 2023 at Sotheby’s London when his painting Muliro Gardens (baboons) (2016) generated a new auction record at over $2.2 million.

Michael Armitage: Annual auction turnover (copyright