ArtReview Power 100 for 2017

ArtReview’s annual Power 100 names Hito Steyerl as first woman to ever top the list.

ArtReview’s Power 100 reveals the year’s most influential people in the contemporary art world. Art Radar takes a look at the 2017 list.

ArtReview Power 100. Image from ArtReview.

ArtReview Power 100. Image from ArtReview.

ArtReview began publishing its Power 100 list sixteen years ago. It has since become a yearly source of gossip and contention as the art world’s gatekeepers and tastemakers concord or contest the decision, taken by a 20-strong panel who remain anonymous so that (as stated by ArtReview) “power-crazed art people don’t hassle them or enact various types of cruel revenge”. 2017 is the first year that the panel has selected a woman to top the list and only the third time that an artist has made it.

German video artist Hito Steyerl – who was named the seventh most powerful individual in the art world in 2016 – tops the list in 2017. The magazine explained:

The artist makes the top slot on this list because she actively attempts to disrupt this nexus of power.

Analysing historical and political narratives in relation to digital culture and identity, Hito Steryl has been a consistent influence on young emerging artists in Europe and across the globe for over a decade.

Portrait of Kerry James Marshall. Image from

Portrait of Kerry James Marshall. Image from

Philosophers and “socially engaged artists” at the top

The 2017 list, more than at any other time, suggests the panel’s leaning towards critical thinkers and politically engaged artists. Aside from feminist philosopher Donna Haraway, who entered at the list at number 3, French philosopher, sociologist and anthropologist Bruno Latour appeared for the first time at number 9, while Judith Butler entered the list also for the first time at 48. Eyal Weizman, the Israeli architect, theorist and founder of the Forensic Architecture Research field, also made it onto the list at number 94.

The work of new entries Kara Walker (at 56) and Kerry James Marshall (at 68) grapples with racial prejudice and social injustice in North America, as does the work of David Hammons (19), Theaster Gates (23) and Arthur Jafa (81). Among the top curators and museum directors listed, the Serpentine’s Hans Ulrich Obrist (6) – who has twice come in at No. 1 in the past – has held ground in the highest tier where he is joined by Harlem Museum’s Thelma Golden, who jumped from 29 in 2016 to number 8 this year.

Suhanya Raffel. Image courtesy West Kowloon Cultural District Authority.

Portrait of Suhanya Raffel. Image courtesy West Kowloon Cultural District Authority.

Entrants from Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa

As reported by Artsy, in 2017 18 percent of the individuals named on the list were born in Asia, a significant increase from 2002’s 3 percent. New entries from the Asia-Pacific region were dominated by curators: Suhanya Raffel and Doryun Chong, respectively Director and Deputy Director/Chief Curator of Hong Kong’s M+ museum, entered at number 59 as one entity, while Sunjung Kim, Curator of international projects at Gwangju Bienniale Foundation, ranks at 72.

Notable entries from across the Asia-Pacific region were also Dhaka Art Summit Co-founders Nadia & Rajeb Samdani, who entered the list in 2017 at 93. Curator Hou Hanru, currently Artistic Director of MAXXI, Rome, jumped from 71 in 2016 to 44. The Asian artists to make the list include Haengue Yang, a new entry at 85, Riyas Komu & Bose Krishnamachari (artist-founders of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale) at number 84 and Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula & Shuddhabrata Sengupta of Raqs Media Collective, who jumped from 86 in 2016 to 39. Representing Asian collectors are Indian art fan Kiran Nadar, a new entry at 97, K11 Art Foundation’s Adrian Cheng at 46, Wang Wei and Liu Yiqian of the Long Museum in Shanghai at number 80 and Richard Chang, who was this year named President of the board of Performa, the New York-based performance art organisation, at number 71.

Amongst returning entries to the list from Asia are artists such as Yayoi Kusama, who from number 93 in 2016 now ranks 55, and Ai Wewei, who still ranks towards the top at number 13.

Kader Attia. Image courtesy the artist. Photo: Sam Mertens.

Portrait of Kader Attia. Photo: Sam Mertens. Image courtesy the artist.

Those from the Middle East and Africa continue to be underrepresented with only 3 percent of this year’s Power 100 hailing from each of the two regions. Cameroonian curator and champion of art from West Africa Koyo Kouoh has risen steadily since 2014, as has curator of the 13th Sharjah Biennial Christine Tohmé. Also from Cameroon, independent curator and biotechnologist and founder of Berlin’s gallery laboratory Savvy ContemporaryBonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung is a new entry to the list, at number 97. South African artist William Kentridge has also steadily climbed Power 100 in the last three years to rank 58 in 2017. With a number of prizes under his belt in the last few years, including the Joan Miro prize and the Marcel Duchamp prize, it is no wonder that French-Algerian artist Kader Attia entered the list this year (at 75).

Rebecca Close


Related topics: international art, lists, art world happenings, curators, news

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