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Top 10 Breakthrough Artists in 2011

The dictionary defines a breakthrough as any significant or sudden advance, development, achievement, or increase. (Yes, that sounds about right.) In listing this year's top breakthrough artists of the year, we not thought about their incredibly creative artistic achievements, we turned to our reports to see which posts all of you loved or appreciated the most. From sculptures popping out of paintings to incredibly elaborate non-photoshopped scenes, these are the works that were so unbelievably interesting that hundreds, thousands or even hundreds of thousands of you just had to share them with your friends. Here, then, is our list of the top 10 breakthrough artists of the year. Just like all of the artists we feature here on My Modern Met, we can't wait to see where they'll take us next.

(Make sure to click “More here” or the images to be launched into our related post where you can learn more about each artist.)

10. Paige Bradley

Artist Paige Bradley is behind a sculpture so striking, it stopped us in our tracks. Titled Expansion, it showed a beautiful woman seeking inner piece but fractured and bleeding with light. The stunning work was made using a “perfectly good wax sculpture” that was purposely dropped to the floor. The pieces were then cast in bronze and reassembled but not before a lighting specialist created a special lighting system that would make it glow from within. [More here.]

9. Shintaro Ohata

We've seen tons of sculptures and a crazy number of paintings but Shintaro Ohata was the first artist who showed us what could happen when you combined the two. The HIroshima, Japan-born artist places sculptures in front of his paintings, bringing 2D and 3D elements perfectly together to create one cohesive story. On top of that, the way he paints light and reflections is extraordinary. [More here.]

8. Joe Fenton

Using just a 0.5 mechanical pencil and a large piece of paper, artist Joe Fenton created one of the most intricate drawings we've ever laid eyes on. Of course, it took him 10 hours a day for 10 months to finish it. Called Solitude, the Todd Schor-inspired piece really showed off the artist's incredible determination and talent. [More here.]

7. Ray Villafane

Just in time for this year's Halloween, we came across the work of Ray Villafane, a sculptor whose expertise lies in pumpkin carving. The New York native is a master at carving expressive pumpkin faces, ones we almost refuse to believe are real. Trust us when we say that the “Picasso of Pumpkins” truly earns that nickname. [More here.]

6. Sandy Skoglund

American artist Sandy Skoglund makes us believe that you don't need expensive computer software to create incredibly elaborate scenes. Her surreal sets take months to construct and are characterized by one repeating object that's in a strikingly bright color. [More here.]

5. Corinne Vionnet

Switzerland-based Corinne Vionnet shows us some of our most famous landmarks in a brand new way. Though her images look like watercolor paintings, they're actually made of hundreds of tourist photos layered into one. The haunting images are meant to make us think about fading memories and the inevitable passage of time. [More here.]

4. Christopher Boffoli

Who's more talented at making little people come alive than Christopher Boffoli? The Seattle-based artist is a master at crafting incredible, make-believe scenes all on food! After our post on him went viral, Boffoli shared with us that he received numerous requests from art galleries as far away as Morocco to showcase his work. [More here.]

3. Amy Shackleton

This year, we introduced you to 25-year-old Amy Shackleton, an artist who uses paint in an unusual way. Rather than applying paint with a paintbrush, she squeezes it directly onto canvases, allowing the paint to drop naturally. She then rotates the canvas to control the direction of the drips. The results? Some gorgeously beautiful paintings created all without a brush! [More here.]

2. Andrew Myers

Earlier this year, we stumbled upon the work of Andrew Myers and we were shocked to find out his painstaking process. The Laguna Beach, California-based artist pre-drills 8,000 to 10,000 holes, by hand, into plywood and then drills in screws, letting computer software guide him. He then paints over each screw head, individually, until the sculpture looks like an actual portrait. [More here.]

1. Brian Dettmer

Who made the #1 spot on our list? It's Brian Dettmer, aka the Book Surgeon, of course! The Atlanta-based artist creates such mind-blowing works that hundreds of thousands of you came in droves to check it out. Using knives, tweezers and surgical tools, Dettmer meticulously carves page after page out of old encyclopedias, medical journals and dictionaries to make incredible works of art. [More here.]

Other honorable mentions: Chan Hwee Chong, Michael Murphy and Jamie Beck/Kevin Burg.

Which of these artists stood out the most to you?

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