Art+Auction's Power 2012: Introduction
Art+Auction's Power 2012: Introduction
In the next 10 days, ARTINFO will publish Art+Auction's 2012 Power list. The following is the introduction from the December 2012 issue of the magazine.
Every 12 months, the editors of Art+Auction assemble a list of the individuals who have stood out in the art world over the last year. It is a tricky, controversial thing to do, because, first, art world power is diffuse and therefore difficult 26 to gauge, and, second, there are people who may possess tremendous prestige in certain circles but aren’t necessarily powerful. Then there’s the reality that those who have real power often don’t advertise it. They endeavor to stay aloof.
So where do the criteria and candidates come from? How do we determine who does and doesn’t make the list? We canvas widely, soliciting contributors and colleagues in Asia, Europe, and the Americas to make sure our list is comprehensive. We also aim to strike a balance between equally valid yet frequently competing areas of influence—weighing curatorial prominence against the character, agency, and clout of individual dealers. Connections, magnetism, and leadership also play a role, especially when it comes to private collectors.
A candidate’s ascendancy is also a quality we try to assess when considering for potential inclusion on the list. The artist Theaster Gates and the curator Cecilia Alemani are not necessarily powerful today, but they have been sufficiently active in the last year for us to believe they are rising, influential art world trendsetters. Reputation is key to an artist’s significance, while curators provide direction and guidance to others who keep the day-to-day art world machinery running. In this regard we look not only at recent accomplishments but toward the future as well.
It is important to note that this power list, unlike others, doesn’t rank its members. Such rankings always seemed preposterous to me, for how does the importance of an art patron, say, stack up against that of a dealer, a curator, or an auction specialist? We prefer to divide our power figures up into categories based on areas of art world dominion and then look for those who hold sway. The end result is a more varied and nuanced overview. But the art world is simply too large and scattered to be under the control of any one individual or group, which is yet another reason for us not to rank players.
Nonetheless, it is also true that there are certain people who command a global authority and notoriety. We have grouped them together as a top 10, judged in importance each year by a separate selection committee. Like all such compilations it is subjective, but in no way, I hope, will it be considered arbitrary or at odds with the facts of power in the world of art today.
The Art+Auction Power 2012
This year has been, to a large extent, about the consolidation of power — witness the debut of two new Frieze fairs, the addition of Art HK to the Art Basel fold, the opening of a new Gagosian branch outside Paris, the hegemony of brand names like Warhol and Richter at auction, and the forging of such super-alliances as Connery, Pissarro, Seydoux.
The art fair, for better or worse, is now the reigning transactional format for the international collecting class. Yet that hasn’t quelled the drive for expansion by leading dealers around the globe. As New York titans like David Zwirner and Pace size up the territory across the pond, Emmanuel Perrotin forges westward to New York, and Pearl Lam retakes Hong Kong, the gallery world grows more bifurcated between international behemoths and striving independents who bring us fresh talent. In auctions, aside from continued growth in the East and the nosebleed heights achieved by masterworks ever dwindling in supply, the main story is the consolidation of market power within the houses via private sales.
But the surge toward certain loci leaves interesting vacancies—and opportunities—in its wake. Among this year’s most compelling powers are those already aiming to fill those voids. After all, the most interesting moments in the art world come when the balance of power shifts, exposing cracks and rifts. This list catalogues the people, be they dealers, directors, curators, auctioneers, or patrons, who are effecting and exploiting these changes.
Beginning last year, Art+Auction’s long-running annual power list was prefaced by a select ranking of the industry’s leaders across all categories. Top-10 lists are inherently subjective, but they are perennial conversation starters. So we empaneled a jury of advisers who know more than a little about the ways of power to help order the names. Let the debate begin.
Jury of Advisers
Scott Reyburn, art market journalist for Bloomberg News.
David Resnicow, founder of the PR firm Resnicow Schroeder.
Benjamin Genocchio, editor in chief of Art+Auction.
The Power 2012 was published within the December 2012 issue of Art+Auction and will run on ARTINFO in nine parts: Auction Power; Power of Tradition; Power Collectors; Design Power; Power Dealers; Power Patrons; Power Players; Power to Watch; and Power Personality. For full coverage of the Power 100, visit the page here.