The Top 20 Art World Women of 2014

From Bambi to Beyoncé, who are this year's leading female figures?

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Marina Abramović.
Photo: © 2014 Patrick McMullan Company, Inc.
Maria Baibakova.
Photo: Patrick McMullan.
Miley Cyrus.
Photo: © 2014 Patrick McMullan Company, Inc.
Kim Kardashian with the Hermes bag Kanye West helped the couple's daughter, North West, paint.ed
Kim Kardashian with the Hermès bag Kanye West helped the couple's daughter, North West, paint.
Photo: Broadimage Newswire.
Carol Vogel with Adam Weinberg at the Whitney Museum Whitney Biennial opening in 2012. Photo: Leandro Justen, courtesy Patrick McMullan
Carol Vogel with Adam Weinberg at the Whitney Museum Whitney Biennial opening in 2012. Photo: Leandro Justen, courtesy Patrick McMullan
Beyoncé poses next to Pablo Picasso's Portrait de Françoise(1946) Photo: Beyoncé.
Kara Walker.
Photo: Patrick McMullan.
Patti Smith and Klaus Biesenbach planning Resilience of the Dreamer. Photo courtesy of MoMA PS1.
Wangechi Mutu, Shirin Neshat
Photo: Neil Rasmus/BFA
Cady Noland, Gibbet (in 2 parts) (1993-1994)
Helen Molesworth: Chief Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art
Photo: Courtesy of MOCA
Melissa Chiu: Director of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Photo: Ashley Gilbertson via Smithsonian
George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin.
Laura Raicovich. Courtesy Creative Time.
Elizabeth Sackler at the Brooklyn Museum's 4th Annual Brooklyn Artists Ball (2014). Photo: Owen Hoffmann, courtesy Patrick McMullan.
Elizabeth Sackler at the Brooklyn Museum's 4th Annual Brooklyn Artists Ball (2014). Photo: Owen Hoffmann, courtesy Patrick McMullan.
Beatrix Ruf, © Robin de Puy
Beatrix Ruf, ©Robin de Puy
Bambi: Dubbed “The Female Banksy”, Bambi is an anonymous female street artist located in London
Courtesy the artist, Walton Fine Arts
Georgia O'Keeffe, Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 (1932) sold at Sotheby's New York, on November 20, 2014.
Georgia O'Keeffe, Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 (1932). The painting sold at Sotheby's New York on November 20, 2014, for $44.4 million, the most ever paid for a work by a woman artist. Courtesy of Sotheby's.
François Pinault and Patricia Barbizet.
Photo: Business Week.

This year marked a milestone for women in the art world. Artnet News found it only appropriate to highlight some of these gracious (and sometimes salacious) women who have made art news headlines in the past 12 months. From Christie’s first female CEO to Beyoncé’s art #selfies, we present to you the women who dominated 2014.

Marina Abramović
It seems every year is Marina Abramović’s year. The performance artist has been making headlines for quite a while now. This year she announced she would team up with controversial filmmaker Roman Polanski. It was also announced that she will be in the Park Avenue Armory’s 2015 lineup. When she held a show at the Serpentine Gallery, it caused a bit of a ruckus, and, like a true artist-celebrity, she inspired tumblr parodies, MarinaAbramopug and Marina Abramovic Made Brazil Cry.

Amal Almuddin
Not only was Alamuddin making headlines for marrying Hollywood’s most notorious bachelor, but the human rights lawyer and wife of George Clooney made art news when she traveled to Athens to advise the Greek government on the reclamation of the Elgin Marbles from London’s British Museum.

Maria Baibakova
The daughter of a Russian oligarch and a major art collector herself, Baibakova wrote an essay in Russian Tatler on how to run a household efficiently. What should have been a business-like approach to the subject turned into a piece that was neither in good taste nor down-to-earth. Baibakova was ridiculed all over the Internet for being spoiled and insensitive.

The name of this anonymous street artist surfaced when Kanye West had Bambi create a nude portrait of Kim Kardashian for the new bride. Already gaining some attention for her graffiti works, Bambi was labeled the female Banksy.

Patricia Barbizet
Patricia Barbizet was named the first female CEO of Christie’s in early December after it was announced that Steven Murphy would be stepping down from his position. Barbizet, who is also the chairman of Christie’s and the chief executive of Artémis Group, founded by Christie’s owner François Pinault, will keep those roles as well.

The pop star and her husband Jay-Z have been in the art world spotlight ever since news spread that the power couple took selfies visiting exhibitions this year including that of Kara Walker at the Domino Sugar Factory and those in various wings at the Louvre. The power couple and noted art collectors also dressed up as Frida Kahlo and Jean-Michel Basquiat for Halloween.

Melissa Chiu
After a 13-year tenure at the Asia Society, Chiu was named the director of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC. In this role she filled in September, she oversees about 12,000 works and 60,000 square-feet of exhibition space as well as the 1.3-acre sculpture garden.

Miley Cyrus
No one knew this was coming. Miley Cyrus burst onto the art world stage when her exhibition, of erotic sculptures, debuted at Jeremy Scott’s spring/summer 2015 show in September. The pop singer also made headlines when she did a performance at Art Basel in Miami Beach this year at the Raleigh Hotel.

Tracey Emin
The artist made headlines when she said female artists can’t have kids and have a successful career at the same time. It was also revealed that her infamous piece, My Bed (1998), would be loaned by it’s current owner, Cologne-based Count Christian Duerckheim, to London’s Tate Modern. Emin is most widely recognized for her confessional and provocative works. In 2007, she was made a Royal Academician.

Kim Kardashian
This reality TV star got some art world recognition when she #broketheInternet with her buzzed-about Paper magazine cover, which was then likened to a sculpture in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her husband Kanye West also gifted her a number of artsy presents including a nude portrait of Kim by Bambi, and two Hermès bags—one painted by George Condo and the other by her 15-month old daughter. And then there was that episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, in which Kim’s sister discovered a fake Modigliani.

Helen Molesworth
After nearly two years without a chief curator, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art appointed Helen Molesworth to the position. She had been the chief curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston.

Shirin Neshat
The artist debuted her highly-anticipated short film Illusions & Mirrors at the Montreal Museum of Fine Art as part of the first Montreal Biennale. The film stars Hollywood sweetheart Natalie Portman as a wide-eyed ingenue who follows a mysterious, ghostly figure across a deserted beach and into a dilapidated mansion where she makes a startling discovery about herself.

Cady Noland
The reclusive and incredibly popular artist refused to endorse a show at the Brant Foundation Art Study Center in Greenwich, Connecticut. The group show also featured work by Larry Clark, Christopher Wool, and Richard Prince. Photographers onsite were further told not to photograph her work. Noland is also one of the most expensive living female artists at auction (see our story “Who Are the Top 10 Most Expensive Living Women Artists?“)

Georgia O’Keeffe
The late artist’s painting Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 (1932) sold at Sotheby’s on November 20 for $44.4 million, tripling its high estimate of $15 million. It is the most expensive painting by a female artist at auction.

Laura Raicovich
Raicovich was named the new president and executive director of the Queens Museum. She had been Creative Time’s director of global initiatives.

Beatrix Ruf
The former director of Kunsthalle Zurich, Beatrix Ruf, is now the new director of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Ruf is also the adviser to publisher Michael Ringier on his collection, which is one of the largest in Switzerland.

Elizabeth Sackler
Sackler is the first chairwoman to sit on the Brooklyn Museum’s board in nearly 200 years of operations. She has also campaigned to introduce the word “matron” instead of the default “patron” for female supporters of art institutions.

Patti Smith
The poet, writer, and artist debuted her piece the Resilience of the Dreamer at MoMA PS1 this past summer. The group installation in the Fort Tilden beach area also featured Janet Cardiff and Adrián Villar Rojas.

Carol Vogel
During Art Basel in Miami Beach, we reported that New York Times arts reporter Carol Vogel was leaving her position there after over 30 years on staff. Known for having the inside scoop on major art stories and for her column Inside Art, Vogel will continue to write for the Times as well as pursue other projects outside the paper.

Kara Walker
The artist’s giant sugar sphinx at the Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn took the art world by storm. Not only were there lines around the block, but the colossal sculpture inspired a slew of offensive Instagram photos and a website to generate Kara Walker sugar selfies (for those that could not make it to the exhibition).

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