Nan Goldin Takes the Top Spot on ArtReview’s Power 100 List

For the first time in the list's 22 year history, the top 10 is wholly made up of artists.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 08: Nan Goldin attends The National Board of Review 2023 Awards Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street on January 08, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

The artist and activist Nan Goldin has topped ArtReview‘s Power 100 list for 2023, jumping up several rungs from her spot in eighth place on last year’s list. The magazine said that this year’s list is “dominated by artists who are using their platforms not just to discuss freedom but to practise it too, intervening through deeds as well as words (and images) in the pressing and social political issues of the current moment.”

It seems likely that Goldin’s jump in the ranking reflects her willingness to defend her own and other artists’ right to sign a highly controversial letter in support of Palestine, published by Artforum in October. After the petition received backlash for failing to condemn the atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7 (they were later acknowledged in an update), many signatories rushed to withdraw their names. “I have never lived through a more chilling period,” Goldin told the New York Times. “People are being blacklisted. People are losing their jobs.”

The German filmmaker Hito Steyerl also moved up the list from fourth to second place. She was a notable public supporter of another letter published by online magazine Erev Rav in response to the Artforum petition. It claimed that that letter, by omitting any mention of Hamas, was “legitimizing the abduction of civilians.”

This is the very first time the list, which was launched in 2002, has a top 10 entirely made up of artists. Wolfgang Tillmans, who came sixth last year, has dropped off the list completely. Instead, ArtReview promoted two American artists, Simone Leigh (4) and Theaster Gates (7), the British artists Isaac Julien (5) and Steve McQueen (8), Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanjia (3), Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama (6), and Chinese artist Cao Fei (10). The Karrabing Film Collective, a group of Indigenous artists from Australia, placed ninth, rising from the 21st spot last year.

NFTs, first on the list in 2021, have not made a comeback, and nor have the Winklevoss Twins, major NFT investors that ranked 58th on last year’s list. Instead, digital artists experimenting with A.I. have been recognized, including Refik Anadol (60) and the duo Holly Herndon & Mat Dryhurst (77).

As always, the mega dealers placed high. Larry Gagosian (12) overtook the directors of Hauser & Wirth (14)—a result of the buzz that followed that New Yorker profile? David Zwirner fell from ninth place to 19th. Another powerful figure, the renowned curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, also fell in the ranking from number 34 to 49.

The British-Ghanaian star architect David Adjaye, who has worked on many major museums across the world, was dropped from the list completely. Last year he placed 78th but the art world was shocked to discover that he had been accused of sexual misconduct by three former employees last July. Institutions immediately rushed to distance themselves from Adjaye and more allegations have since surfaced that he ran an emotionally abusive workplace.

The Brazilian curator Adriano Pedrosa, who has regularly ranked toward’s the list’s end, earned the 15th spot this year. At the end of last year he was announced as the curator of next year’s 60th Venice Biennale.

The Power 100 is decided by a panel of 40 art world insiders whose identities are protected. Though many names have reappeared on the list over the last two decades—and some figures like Jay Jopling and Obrist have been making the list since 2002—the panel has, in recent years, worked to make the list less Western-centric and more globally relevant.

 

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