KALUP LINZY, 32
Part RuPaul, part John Waters, Kalup Linzy has parlayed a childhood obsession with soap operas into a career as a visionary video artist. In his satirical productions, he invents and plays his own characters—many in wigs and sequins. Limited-edition copies of his pieces have landed in the MoMA and the Whitney. For good reason: Linzy's work has a depth of narrative that sets it apart from drag-queen kitsch. He sells pictures painted by his characters and shoots music videos for their songs. "It's a way to exorcise—I don't want to say demons, but certain things within myself," he says. And now that self is collaborating with James Franco on a series of radio episodes for "Art on Air," and, having caught the attention of Sundance, it's about to star in a feature film. "It's a comedy," Linzy says. "I'm going to do the soundtrack—you know, how Prince did his soundtrack." Hollywood may beckon, but he appears to be in no danger of becoming the Kalup Linzy Formerly Known as an Artist.
[Photo Gallery: View Kalup Linzy's art portfolio]
KELLEY WALKER, 40
Kelley Walker's art is kind of like pop-culture surgery. For his 2008 piece Whitney Houston, the Tennessee transplant dissected stills from the singer's "How Will I Know?" video and incorporated them into a multimedia maze. For a series on the Birmingham race riots, he took historical photos that Warhol had used—and silkscreened them with chocolate. And his last show featured canvases that looked like brick walls, made up of scans of actual bricks and with gossip-mag articles cut into gossamer grids and used as mortar. Although many of his pieces fetch six-figure sums, he sells others cheaply, with accompanying CD-ROM files, inviting you to manipulate them in Photoshop. "When you have people like Damien Hirst selling for a hundred million dollars," he says, "it's less about the art itself than it is about the people generating the image."
[Photo Gallery: View Kelley Walker's art portfolio]
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