Now in its 18th year, the renowned ArtReview Power 100 list has just been revealed, introducing us to the most influential figures in the world of contemporary art in the past 12 months.
Compiled in consultation with a panel of 30 artists, curators and critics from around the globe, it ranks individuals and organizations influencing the type of art that was produced over the course of 2019.
At the top this time round is Glenn D. Lowry, the longtime Director of the newly re-opened Museum of Modern Art in New York. Following closely is photographer Nan Goldin, with gallerists Iwan and Manuela Wirth, artist Hito Steyerl, and another gallerist, David Zwirner, occupying positions 3, 4 and 5 respectively.
Who else made the cut and is counted among the art world’s most influential players?
MoMA’s Director since 1995, Glenn D. Lowry is the man behind the innovative $450 million renovation, endowment and expansion of one of the most significant museums. The institution reopened this autumn after four months of touching-up, to show off its collection in a completely new way, welcoming critics who in turn welcomed this breath of fresh air.
Saluted for her photography, Nan Goldin ended up second on the ArtReview Power 100 list thanks to her activism. She spearheaded protests against the Sackler family and their role in the opioid crisis in the United States that she was also a victim of. After months of campaigning, many art institutions funded by Sackler money cut ties with them, including major names in London such as the National Portrait Gallery and Tate.
The Sackler family art world saga also has to do with Hito Steyerl, a fellow artist ranking no. 4 on the ArtReview Power 100 list. In April 2019, at the opening of her exhibition Hito Steyerl: Power Plants at the Serpentine Sackler gallery in London, she introduced an augmented reality app through which the visitors can see the building’s facade without the Sackler name, inviting other museums and galleries bearing that family name to undergo an “un-naming” process. Furthermore, in October of 2019 Steyerl demanded that all German state-run art institutions stop showing her work until the country changes its policy toward Turkey’s invasion of Kurdish areas in Syria.
Also on the list are Tate Director Maria Balshaw (no. 9), thanks to her efforts in decolonizing the collection; Miuccia Prada (11), whose Fondazione Prada has been presenting some notable exhibitions in 2019, including the Jannis Kounellis show in Venice during the Biennale; Marc Glimcher (23), to whom we recently talked about Pace Gallery’s remarkable new Chelsea exhibition space(s); and Banksy (14), whose social commentary (that you can now find in a shop) did not escape us in 2019 either.
Among the ArtReview Power 100, despite what the first few names on its top might make you think, there are also curators, artists, and directors from beyond the Western world.
Documenta’s next directors ruangrupa, an Indonesian artist collective, come in at number 10, while Zeitz MOCAA’s Koyo Kouoh is the 56th name on the list. Sheikha Hoor Al-Qasimi, the woman behind the Sharjah Biennial, the Lahore Niennial and the Africa Institute, holds the position 32, and the trio consisting of Nadia Samdani, Rajeeb Samdani and Diana Campbell Betancourt of the Dhaka Art Summit are placed 47th.
Pablo León de la Barra, the man holding two jobs (one at the Guggenheim, and the other at the Museum of Contemporary art in Niteroi, Brazil) is at number 90, and at 53 is Eugene Tan, an important figure on Singapore’s contemporary art scene.
In a rather poignant closing statement, the creators of the ArtReview Power 100 say:
[This] is not to say that inequalities in power and representation are rapidly and efficiently being addressed and resolved. While mirroring the ways in which an increasingly connected and internationalised art system is thinking about global inequalities of power, the list remains a reflection of power as it is, rather than as it should be.
You can find the full list of the the ArtReview Power 100 here.