Not many art critics get to steer the discourse, but Sargent isn’t just any critic. A prodigious advocate for Black artists and creatives – see his 2019 book The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion; Young, Gifted and Black: A New Generation of Artists (2020), which he edited; and his highly popular Instagram account – he’s been a significant force in galleries representing and spotlighting artists of colour. So it was shrewd of Gagosian to make him a director this year, and given the gallery’s abundant resources, Sargent wasted no time in realising his exhibition-making ambitions. Social Works, his debut show at the gallery’s 24th Street space, brought together a dozen Black artists whose work engages directly with their communities, and incorporated projects ranging from Linda Goode Bryant’s functional urban farm to David Adjaye’s first largescale sculpture. While some observers worry that the artworld’s deeply belated embrace of artists of colour is a fad, figures like Sargent – razor-sharp, committed, media-savvy – will ensure it isn’t.
Most influential people in 2021 in the contemporary artworld
Curator - The critic and curator was named a director at Gagosian this year
68 in 2021