One of the hottest artists on the contemporary scene, the heavily-tattooed Violette is known for his paintings and sculptures riffing on murder and teenage suicide.

Violette grew up in Ithaca, and its grim, wintry landscape clearly shaped his taste for the moody and macabre. As a youngster, he got into crystal meth and dropped out of high school, later working as a tattoo artist while earning his G.E.D. Hoping to make a career out of more highbrow art, Violette went to art school, briefly attending SVA before finally graduating from Columbia University's MFA program in 2000. Like Ryan McGinley and Dash Snow, Violette hit the big time by drawing inspiration from the darker side of youth culture. Inspired by hardcore Norwegian heavy metal music, and working with a palette of glossy black and crystalline white, he's been compared by Times critic Roberta Smith to the "Three R's of darkness: Robert Smithson, Robert Mapplethorpe and Richard Prince."

Violette is married to writer Alissa Bennett, who's written monologues for the performers in artist Sue de Beer's video installations. [Image via AP]