Alain Seban & Alfred Pacquement

President and Director of Pompidou Centre, Paris

The announced departure at the end of this year of Alfred Pacquement, director of the Pompidou Centre since the 1970s and one of the most ubiquitous and engaged players in the contemporary and modern art worlds, creates a gaping hole in the art landscape. It also raises an interesting question: is art power institutional or individual? 

Will the new director have to earn Pacquement’s longtime lock on a top-20 spot on this list, or does it come with the job? One thing is clear: the centre’s central importance to contemporary art is not likely to slip much, and Alain Seban, a politically appointed functionary when he took over as the centre’s president in 2007, and now a very astute and aggressively hands-on art player on his own terms, will maintain a high ranking, alone or accompanied.