The 100 most influential people in the artworld in 2018

David Zwirner is number one in the 17th edition of the ArtReview Power 100, the annual ranking of the contemporary artworld’s most influential players. 

The gallery owner is followed in the list by painter Kerry James Marshall. At number 3 is #MeToo, the first time a movement, as opposed to an individual or group, has appeared on the Power 100.

With a stable of more than 60 artists and estates, and galleries in London, New York and Hong Kong, Zwirner has been in reflective mode this year. When the subject of gallery giants whose size threatens to destabilise the art ecosystem was raised at an industry conference earlier this year, he proposed that art fairs ‘tax’ the biggest galleries in order to subsidise the participation of the smaller ones. A few months later, Marc Spiegler’s (24) Art Basel announced just such a policy. When Zwirner speaks, the artworld listens. It is no wonder then that he gets to represent some of the most important artists working today, not least James Marshall, Wolfgang Tillmans (11) and Yayoi Kusama (16), and the estates of artists past, including Anni Albers and Joan Mitchell.

In his lyrical depiction of black bodies James Marshall is a painter whose work offers a radical rebuke to the whitewashing of art history. He is also the most expensive living black artist, after Sean Combs, aka P. Diddy, bought a work at auction for $21.1m. Thelma Golden, one of the artist’s earliest supporters and a curator who has done more than most to raise the profile of art by black artists, takes the number 8 spot, while Pamela Joyner (36), owner of world’s largest collections of African-American art, and Fred Moten (10) whose work in black studies provides a critical framework, enter the list for the first time. John Akomfrah (94), the British filmmaker whose work meditates on race and the environment, and Indian philosopher Gayatri Spivak (42), known for her writing on feminism, migration and citizenship, also make their debut. Through the #MeToo-inspired activism of anonymous groups such as We Are Not Surprised, which takes its name from a work by American artist Jenny Holzer (100) and Scene and Herd, an India-based social media account holding powerful men to account, 2018 was the year that the abuse of power would no longer go unchallenged.

The intermingling of art and politics, and the idea that art can enact real world change, is also reflected in the presence of Eyal Weizman (9), the founder of Turner Prize-nominated collective Forensic Architecture, whose work investigates crimes by state bodies; Nan Goldin (18), the iconic American photographer who this year has led a crusade against the Sackler Family, prominent art patrons whose company, Purdue Pharma, Goldin says is to blame for the opioid crisis; and Philippe Parreno (45) whose art draws attention to the effect people are having on the natural environment.

The Power 100 is compiled in consultation with a panel of 30 artists, curators and critics from around the world who are invited to suggest the individuals and organisations that are having the most influence on the type of art being produced and exhibited in the last twelve months. The 2018 list mirrors the continued shift in power from traditional European and Northern American art hubs with the presence of Sheikha Hoor Al-Qasimi (37) and Bangladeshi collectors Nadia & Rajeeb Samdani (63), organisers of the Sharjah Biennial and the Dhaka Art Summit respectively, which have both become preeminent fixtures in the artworld’s calendar and drivers of their local art scenes. Champion of art from South and Central America, Pablo León de la Barra is at number 88, while making his debut on the list is Patrick D. Flores (97), the Manila-based curator whose work has led to the greater prominence of South East Asian art. Also making their debut on the Power 100 is Cao Fei (41), the Chinese artist praised for her use of digital media, and Ute Meta Bauer (81), director of the Centre for Contemporary Art in Singapore.

8 November 2018