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Who Has Power In The Art World Now?

ArtReview magazine is out with its annual list of the most powerful 100 people in the art world, and it is topped this year by Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, head of the Qatar Museums Authority, sponsor of international art projects and spender of some $1 billion a year on art.

Can’t beat that for power.

power100logo2011aThe next three spots are for dealers, this year in a different order than last: David Zwirner is #2 (up from #5), Iwan Wirth is #3 (up from #4) and Larry Gagosian is #4 (down from #2).

The most powerful museum director? Nicholas Serota, of course, at #6, followed by Glenn Lowry at #8 — both moved up a notch or two.

The most powerful artist? Ai Weiwei at #9 followed by Marina Abramovich at #11. He’s down, she’s up.

Are there surprises? I think so. Michael Govan is a “reentry” at #57 — I’m surprised he ever fell off, and that’s a low number for him.

New entries? Dealer Eva Presenhuber at #59, artists Ryan Trecartin at #64, Yayoi Kusama at #67, Hito Steyerl at #69, and Lars Nittve, founding director of Tate Modern, at #73 head the list of 19 newcomers all told. For that, we can be grateful.

These lists are fun, but I can’t take them too seriously, right?



  1. #1 in power is #1 in $$$$. What a coincidence.

  2. Scott Redford says:

    God this is depressing! It just proves that Grayson Perry was right to recently name all of international Contemporary Art one big cartel. This list and our fetishizing of it proves that. Of course someone who spens over a billion dollars a year of oil money would be the most powerful exponent of Contemporary Art. It’s just one cartel laundering its money in another!

    For a so called ‘critc’ or commentator you are an extremely loud spruiker for the whole corrupt mess! But no be will listen to me or anyone else against the cartel, power is power is art…..always was, always will be.

  3. Fun. When I did a power list about a year and a half ago I so wanted to put Zwirner out top above Gagosian. It may have been too early then, but the writing was on the wall, to coin a cliche. Apparently, it’s been written. Good to see this.

  4. John Slade says:

    And the award goes to? No one.

    It is really is indefensible for you to to repost such a ridiculous list, asserting you are only the messenger. If you are going to do so, you ought to at least provide meaning commentary on why or how such lists are remotely useful. Worse yet, you do not question the analysis or results. (What is Liam Gillick on any art power list? Riddle me this.)

    The messenger was ArtReview, and you took the bait. All of this is nonsense, which you call “fun.” Fun is having a root canal compared with this silly excuse for reportage and criticism.

    • ArtReview developed the list according to its criteria — How could it be the messenger? Here is AR’s explanation: ” Entrants are ranked according to a combination of influence over the production of art internationally, sheer financial clout (although in these times that’s no longer such a big factor) and activity in the previous 12 months – criteria which encompass artists, of course, as well as collectors, gallerists and curators. Regular appearances are also made by those who run the major art fairs, by museum and foundation directors, and even by the occasional critic.”

      And perhaps you missed the last line of my post, “… can’t take [the lists] too seriously, right?” Surely you understand that.

  5. the nameless eye says:

    Dear Mr. Redford, dear Mr. Slade,
    Please look to the upper right, where you will see a document called the comment policy. It includes a caution against being gratuitously derogatory. I think you would do well to read it carefully, and to focus on productive debate.
    Sincerely yours,

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