Woman tops ArtReview "power 100" list for first time

Wed Oct 17, 2012 10:07pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - A U.S.-born Italian-Bulgarian curator little known outside the art world has topped ArtReview magazine's annual Power 100 list, the first female to do so in its 11-year history.

Previously topped by familiar names like artists Damien Hirst and Ai Weiwei and gallery supremo Larry Gagosian, the 2012 title went to Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev best known for curating the marathon Documenta 13 art fair staged in Kassel in Germany.

An art historian who wrote for newspapers before taking up curating in Italy, Christov-Bakargiev has been widely praised for staging a critically acclaimed edition of Documenta, held every five years and lasting for around 100 days.

Some 860,000 people visited the Kassel show, spread across the city's parks, galleries, cinemas and train station in what Christov-Bakargiev likened to "an exploded museum".

Another 27,000 attended a satellite event in Kabul in a bold extension of a fair founded in 1955 by an artist who was banned by the Nazis and whose aim was to revive culture.

"I don't think you get extra points for being famous," said Mark Rappolt, editor of ArtReview, commenting on a less than obvious choice of the art world's most powerful individual.

"Art is about people who have an influence over what other people are producing."

He praised Christov-Bakargiev for the "global scale and great ambition" of Documenta, and suggested that some members of the panel which came up with the 100-strong list had argued for more commercial figures in the art world to be at the summit.   Continued...

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev (R), "dOCUMENTA (13)" art exhibition director smiles during dOCUMENTA's official opening in Kassel, June 9, 2012. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski