Art Radar’s 17 most-searched Asian contemporary artists, January to June 2012

Familiar names and newcomers in our search data from the first half of the year.

Heading into the second half of the year, Art Radar’s artist search data for January to June has just come in. 2012 brought with it several major changes to the list, including a huge leap in Southeast Asian artists and the dethroning of last year’s champion, Ai Weiwei.

Farhad Ahrarnia, 'Untitled (US Soldier III)', 2008, digital photograph on cotton aida and embroidery. Image courtesy Rose Issa Projects.

The search analytics in this list start from the end of our previous list post, which covered the second half of 2011. The list should not be taken as a reliable proxy for the most-searched Asian contemporary artists on the Internet overall (more on that in the disclaimer below). However, it does reveal a lot about trends in contemporary art coverage at Art Radar and our readership, especially when previous lists are compared.

For the data from the first half of 2011 click here, for the data from 2010, click here and for the data from 2009, click here.

The list…

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Correction, 17 August 2012: Art Radar mistakenly included New Zealand artist Lisa Reihana in our list of the most-searched Asian artists on our platform. As New Zealand is not located in Asia (according to the United Nations geographic classification scheme) we have since removed the name of this artist. We apologise for any confusion or dismay that this has caused the artist and those in association with her, along with our readers.

Farhad Ahrarnia takes the crown

After two consecutive cycles at the number two spot, Iranian artist Farhad Ahrarnia finally made it to the top of the list in the first half of 2012, unseating Chinese artist-dissident Ai Weiwei. Ahrarnia most recently had a solo show “Canary in a Coal Mine” at London’s Rose Issa Projects (in 2012) and participated in the 2011 edition of the Tashkent Biennale of Contemporary Art in Uzbekistan. Ahrarnia is one of Art Radar‘s most consistently popular searches.

Southeast Asian artists make waves

One notable trend in this year’s coverage is the increase in Southeast Asian artists. Including Rirkrit Tiravanija, an artist of Thai descent born in Buenos Aires and currently working in New York, there were seven artists from the region in the first 2012 list, doubling their presence from the previous list. Among the newcomers from Southeast Asia were Vietnamese painter Nguyen Thai Tuan, Cambodian artist Khvay Samnang and Thai-Chinese installation artist Nipan Oranniwesna, who is currently exhibiting in the Eighteenth Biennale of Sydney.

Yayoi Kusama: From zero to top three in six months

The final big surprise of this batch of search data was Yayoi Kusama’s jump to the third spot. Perhaps even more surprising is that she has never made the list before this year! The newfound traffic was largely due to searches for Kusama’s recent collaboration with Louis Vuitton, which brought them to a very popular post from February 2012.

How does the list match up with your expectations? Leave us a comment below with your thoughts.

Disclaimer: This list is not a reliable proxy for the most-searched artists on the Internet overall. If we have not written a post on or tagged an artist, search engines will not bring us traffic for this search term and it will not appear in our traffic analysis statistics. Art Radar is still young, having just celebrated its fourth birthday, so it is quite possible that we have not yet covered some higly-searched artists. Even if we have referenced an artist on our site and the artist is highly searched, the searcher will not come to us unless we have a high page ranking for the story on search engines. For example, if the post is, say, after page four in the listed search engine results, the searcher is not as likely to find our post and the search term will not appear in our statistics. Finally, even if we have written a post on a searched artist and that post is ranked highly, it may be that other stories on the same page are more alluring than ours and readers do not find their way to us.

PR/KN/HH

Related Topics: Yayoi Kusama, Southeast Asian artistslist posts

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