Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev tops ArtReview's Power 100 list

ArtReview magazine’s annual Power 100 list has come to be respected for being a comprehensive, accurate and prescient barometer of the industry’s most powerful figures.
Over the years it has recognised people like Charles Saatchi, Larry Gagosian, Damien Hirst, Francois Pinault and Ai Weiwei as trailblazing pioneers who have, in their own distinct way, been at the forefront of the art world.
Since its inception in 2002, the list has been dominated by men in terms of the number one spot. However, as of 2012, that has changed irrevocably. Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, curator of Documenta 13, has become the first woman ever to be recognised by ArtReview as the most distinguished and prominent luminary in art today.
She is, interestingly, largely unknown outside of the industry, in contrast to say Hirst, Saatchi and Weiwei, who have, through controversy, politics and sheer weight of influence, become household names, even to those without any discernible interest in art.
This lack of familiarity in no way diminishes her place at the top of the list, as Ms Christov-Bakargiev is well-known to those who matter. After all, universal visibility isn’t a prerequisite of success or influence in any given field of life.
The magazine explained that the US born writer and curator was ranked number one “on account of her influential and globally ambitious Documenta, the latest edition of the historic quinquennial exhibition based in Kassel, Germany”.
“Christov-Bakargiev’s expansive curating and her engagement of ideas and practices from outside the sphere of contemporary art were seen to be particularly influential, prompting discussion across the art world,” ArtReview added.
The compilers of the list, which takes into consideration a combination of factors including influence over the production of art across the world, financial clout and activity, noted that this year was also remarkable for “fragmentation brought about by geographical, economic and political shifts”.
This has been defined by the expansion of businesses abroad, the opening of galleries in emerging markets in Latin America and Hong Kong, and the grander, more ambitious staging of exhibitions in major cities like London, Paris and New York.
Leaders in this area have included Mr Gagosian, who came in as the second most powerful person on the list, Iwan Wirth, David Zwimmer, Marc Glimcher and Jay Jopling.
Art’s ability to incisively articulate discontent with various happenings worldwide has also been recognised as a marked development in the industry, with artists, curators and organisations using the medium as an effective way to deliver social and political commentary to the masses.
This renaissance in art as critique – in a ubiquitous sense – is seen in the magazine judging Weiwei to be the third most powerful individual on the list; acknowledging the fact that Pussy Riot have made a global impact with their artistic protests; and observing the growing importance of artists such as Theaster Gates and Walid Raad, as well as writers like Boris Groys, Slavoj Žižek and Jacques Rancière.
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