Want to Understand the Art World? Follow These 12 Influencers on Instagram

Adrian Cheng, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Nancy Spector, and other international tastemakers let followers inside their day-to-day lives.

Antwaun Sargent. Image courtesy of @sirsargent via Instagram.

Savvy Instagram users know that the social media platform can reveal surprising insights into the aesthetic mindsets of their favorite artists, from Cindy Sherman to Ai Weiwei. Increasingly, tastemakers from across the art world—from dealers to writers to institutions, which are rapidly beefing up their digital content teams—are offering their prominent social media followings behind-the-scenes access to their work. Here’s a list of some of our favorites to add to your daily scroll.

1. Adrian Cheng, @ac_kaf, 43.9k followers 

The Hong Kong collector and entrepreneur Adrian Cheng is the scion of a real estate and jewelry empire, and in the past decade he has been using his influence to champion the Asian art market and nurture its artists. In 2008, he founded the K11 art mall and its partnering foundation (KAF), most recently announcing a collaboration with the New Museum to produce the group show “After Us” at the K11 museum in Shanghai. His feed offers a glimpse into his globetrotting life—from art exhibitions to fashion shows to artisanal desserts—in Asia and beyond.

2. Kimberly Drew, @museummammy122k followers

Kimberly Drew is the social media manager for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but she began @museummammy in 2011 with her Tumblr blog, Black Contemporary Art. She has used the account to highlight lesser-known black artists and spaces that deserve more attention. Her feed now offers a mix of both emerging young talent and overlooked figures from the recent past, as well as a dose of political engagement and a peek at her globe-spanning travels, most recently to the opening of Zeitz MOCAA in South Africa.

3. Matthew Higgs, @matthewhiggs201521k followers

Matthew Higgs is the director and chief curator of White Columns in New York and a very busy man about town. We recommend following his feed for a guide to the people and places you should know in the downtown New York art scene, as well as a wealth of unexpected recommendations of historical books, magazines, and poster art. Oh, and lots of cute pics of his dog, Olive, too.

4. Michael Xufu Huang@michaelxufuhuang35.8k followers

One of the more precocious figures in the contemporary art market, Huang started his collection at the tender age of 16 and went on to co-found the contemporary art museum M WOODS in Beijing before graduating from the University of Pennsylvania. At only 23, he’s already hosted one blockbuster exhibition at M WOODS and also sits on the board of the New Museum. True to millennial form, he posts lots of flawlessly composed images of himself in exotic locations—but surprisingly, most are not selfies.


5. Choi Seung Hyun T.O.P 최승현, @choi_seung_hyun_tttop8.2m followers

Choi Seung Hyun, better known by the moniker T.O.P, may be most famous for his career in the K-Pop group Big Band, but his 8.2 million Instagram followers are also getting a crash course in blue-chip art thanks to the inside look he’s been providing of his personal collection on social media. Artists ranging from Jonas Wood to Ed Ruscha pop up in between images of his band mates and stills from his forthcoming movie. Choi has been collecting art since he was 18 and, last year, he collaborated with Sotheby’s to curate the art auction #TTTOP.

6. Charles Lutz, @charleslutz11.9k followers

Charles Lutz is a conceptual artist whose cheeky Instagram account follows in the same vein as his “Warhol Denied” (2008) series, in which he submitted meticulous copies of Andy Warhol paintings to the artist’s authentication board and then gleefully exhibited them with their rubber-stamped rejection markings. In addition to posting pictures from various art events around the city, you’ll find a wealth of Obama memes and New Yorker-style cartoons needling the power-brokers of the contemporary art scene.


7. Toyin Ojih Odutola, @toyinojihodutola40.2k followers

Dedicated fans and new followers alike will revel in the teasers that the Nigerian-born artist Toyin Ojih Odutola posts from inside her studio. See glimpses of her figurative work, which was featured on the decadent TV series Empire, as well as her studio life in the run-up to her hotly anticipated solo show, “To Wander Determined,” opening this October at the Whitney.

8. Eva Respini, @curator_on_the_run, 26.8k followers

True to her handle, Eva Respini, chief curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) Boston, does, in fact, always seem to be on the run. Based on her location tags, Respini routinely trots from one great art show to the next, both around Boston and the wider world. We think her best posts, however, are culled from her unbeatable access to the ICA’s inventory.


9. David Rimanelli, @davidrimanelli20k followers 

The art critic David Rimanelli uses his Instagram as a digital museum. As a contributor to Artforum, Rimanelli wrote some early screeds on social media, but since his 2014 piece “Like, Totally,” in which he lamented his “mere 2,380 followers,” his numbers have improved considerably.

10. Karen Robinovitz, @karenrobinovitz60.3k followers 

Karen Robinovitz is the co-founder of Digital Brand Architects, a talent management agency geared toward social media influencers. Since she makes social media branding her job, it’s no wonder she has a strong presence herself. Robinovitz’s Instagram also introduces followers to the vibrant abstract and surreal art that she seems to admire most.


11. Antwaun Sargent, @sirsargent49.7k followers

Antwaun Sargent is a dapper writer and critic whose Instagram posts alternate between coolly posed self-portraits against colorful backdrops and artworks by important African American artists. Some of his favorites include Barkley L. Hendricks, Kerry James Marshall, Kehinde Wiley, and Jennifer Packer. Come for the amazing wardrobe, stay for the art.

12. Nancy Spector, @nespector116k followers

As the chief curator and artistic director of the Guggenheim, Spector is one of the most influential curators working today, but she’s not resting on her laurels. An outspoken activist, Spector recently began using Instagram to re-publish a few of the letters written by international artists opposing the so-called Muslim Ban, more prescient than ever before.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
Article topics