100 Most Influential People in the Art World: Part One
Sometimes you can have it all.
This year, we’ve watched records break at high-profile auctions and attendance grow at an abundance of international art fairs. At the same time, high art and pop culture keep intersecting and informing one another in curious ways, as evinced by fairs such as Art Basel in Miami Beach.
There’s no question that the art world is a powerful force in contemporary society, but who are the individuals with influence driving this well-oiled machine? From billionaire patrons to biennial curators, celebrity collectors to internationally celebrated artists, we made a list of the 100 most influential people in the art world today. (See Part Two here.)
1. Aby Rosen
The German-born and New York-based collector and developer boasts a giant collection of Warhols and has a history of marrying art and real estate in his ventures like the Lever House Art Collection. This year, he purchased 190 Bowery, an iconic former bank building in downtown New York, and already organized a group exhibition on site, curated by Vito Schnabel and including works by Julian Schnabel and Harmony Korine.
2. Adam D. Weinberg
The director of the Whitney Museum of American Art undertook the enormous task of moving the institution to a new location in the Meatpacking District this year. The new building designed by Renzo Piano hugely increases the museum’s programming space, something they’ve taken advantage of in recent exhibitions like the Frank Stella retrospective.
3. Adam Szymczyk
The Documenta 14 director made headlines this year for announcing his ambitions to show works from the late art dealer Cornelius Gurlitt, which were seized by the Nazis. Last year, he also sparked controversy with his plans to expand the quinqunnial outside Kassel, Germany for the first time, splitting the exhibition between Athens and Kassel.
4. Adrian Cheng
The Hong-Kong businessman and collector was involved with six exhibitions at Art Basel this year. Through the vertically-integrated non-profit he founded, K11 Art Foundations, he’s aspiring to develop a new ecosystem for the contemporary Chinese art world.
5. Ai Weiwei
This year, the Chinese artist and activist had numerous exhibitions worldwide from a retrospective at the Royal Academy in London to a site-specific installation at Alcatraz, launched a jewelry collection, and got his passport back from Chinese authorities.
6. Alan Lau
In only a decade, the young Hong Kong-based businessman has emerged as one of the most influential Asian collectors. He’s a member of the Asia-Pacific Acquisitions Committee at Tate London and of the board at nonprofit art space Para Site in Hong Kong.
7. Anish Kapoor
The British-Indian sculptor has been no stranger to controversy this year becoming embroiled in a battle with French authorities this year regarding the anti-Semitic graffiti vandalizing a sculpture that was part of his Versailles solo show. He’s also accused Chinese authorities of plagiarism when he noticed an uncanny similarity between his Cloudgate sculpture and one created for Karamay, an oil-rich town in the Uygur Autonomous Region of China. To balance it out, he’s also an advocate for more humane immigration policies in the UK.
8. Anita and Poju Zabludowicz
The British megacollectors and billionaire couple are known for their support of young audacious artists. This year they commissioned Jon Rafman’s first major solo show in the UK at the Zabludowicz Collection and they bank-rolled Daata Editions, a new online marketplace for video and sound works.
9. Barbara Gladstone
The American gallery owner and art dealer, who owns three locations in New York and one in Brussels, presented exhibitions by Richard Prince, Anish Kapoor, Cameron Jamie, and many others this year.
10. Beatrix Ruf
The German-born curator and director of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam was honored with the Agnes Gund Curatorial Award this year; she’s been a significant presence on the European art scene, and is known for her ability to find and foster emerging artists.
Following, the artist’s retrospective at MoMA this year, criticism was mostly lodged at the institution for its unrigorous presentation rather than at the artist’s work. The singer-composer-producer also proved her relevancy and continued artistic experimentation this year with her ninth studio album Vulnicura.
12. Brett Gorvy
The Christie’s chairman and international head of post-war and contemporary art smashed auction-room records this year with the sale of Francis Bacon’s triptych Three Studies of Lucian Freud (1969), which became the most expensive contemporary artwork ever sold at auction until Pablo Picasso’s Les femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’) sold for $179 million at Christie’s in May. More recently, Amedeo Modigliani’s Nu Couché garnered $170 million at Christie’s in November, showing that the auction house’s contemporary department is still going strong with Gorvy at the helm.
13. Bruno Brunnet
The founder of the maturing Berlin gallery Contemporary Fine Arts has experimented with other models and markets in recent years while continuing to represent international artists like Cecily Brown and Juergen Teller.
14. Budi Tek
The Chinese-Indonesian collector brought an extra-large iteration of “Rain Room” (2012) to his newly opened Yuz Museum in Shanghai, a private institution which has resonances of a themepark and favors immersive works. He’s well underway with plans to soon open an “art park” called Budidesia in Bali.
15. Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev
Following her success as artistic director of Docuemta 12, the American curator was named director of Galleria d’Arte Moderna and Castello di Rivoli in Turin this year.
16. Cecily Brown
The British painter raised eyebrows when she parted ways with Gagosian Gallery this year. She has a show with the Drawing Center on the horizon in 2017 and perhaps is focusing on museum shows rather than gallery deals right now.
17. Cindy Sherman
The iconic American artist best-known for her self-protraits is still hugely influential and this year entered a debate about sexism in the artworld penning a piece the inequalities that still persist.
18. Daniel Buchholz
The German art dealer and founder of Galerie Bucholz recently expanded, with a glamorous new location near the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
19. Dasha Zhukova
The Russian-born businesswoman and wife of billionaire Roman Abramovich is the founder of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art. This year the Moscow institution celebrated a star-studded reopening after a renovation by Rem Koolhaas.
20. David Kordansky
Following the expansion of his L.A. gallery last year, the art dealer presented exhibitions by artists like Peter Saul and Tala Madani, while continuing to stand-out for his passionate and unconventional approach to curating.
21. David Zwirner
With an empire of galleries in New York and London, the art dealer is sustaining his impressive reputation. 2015 saw an exhibition of Yayoi Kusama and the sale of Richard Serra’s Equal (2015) to the MoMA.
22. Dominique Levy
Since breaking out on her own from her partnership with Robert Mnuchin in 2013, the Swiss Art Dealer has opened an office in Geneva and gallery spaces in New York and London. She continues to seek out impressive talent for her projects and has an exhibition of Gerard Richard on the horizon in early 2016.
23. Ed Dolman
Since his appointment last year, the Phillips Chairman and CEO has transformed the third-ranked auction house into a forbidding rival, poaching talent from Christie’s and introducing an innovative partnership with eBay for online bidding.
24. Eli & Edythe Broad
The super-patron and super-collector couple opened their 11,000 square-foot private museum in Los Angeles this September, to great acclaim. It’s a game changer for the city, to be sure.
25. Esther Schipper
The Berlin-based gallery owner and longtime tastemaker announced that over the next five years Esther Schipper gallery would merge with the comparable Berlin powerhouse Johnen Galerie, proving that two heads can be better than one.
26. Eugenio López
The Mexican collector and billionaire patron founded Museo Júmex in 2013, which houses the largest private art collection in Latin America.
27. Eungie Joo
Joo curated the Sharjah Biennial in the United Arab Emirates this March; we’re curious what this globetrotter will do next.
28. Eva Presenhuber
The Zurich-based gallerist maintains her reputation for exhibiting established and emerging sculptors. This year Presehauser presented her tenth show of Franz West’s work.
29. Frank Stella
With an impressive retrospective at the new Whitney Museum this year, the American printmaker and painter can expect both his legacy and increased auction sales to be secured.
30. Gavin Brown
This year the British-born gallerist added a location in Rome to his empire and signed emerging star Ed Atkins. His move to New York’s Harlem neighborhood has also been buzzed about this year.
31. Gerhard Richter
The German visual artist remains one of the most influential painters alive today. This year, his legendary color charts turned 50.
32. Glenn D. Lowry
The director of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, an institution which has received considerable criticism for its populist programming and pay packages in recent years, still remains valuable for interacting with a larger definition of modern and contemporary art which includes movies, music, and market-driven cultural products.
33. Hans Ulrich Obrist
The co-director of Serpentine Galleries in London, the Swiss curator and writer keeps insanely busy with incessant travel, two new books out this year, and his ongoing Instagram project in which everyone Post-It-note-worthy from Miranda July to Marina Abramović has participated.
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