Swiss curator tops art power list, Hirst slumps

Wed Oct 14, 2009 11:06pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Several prominent collectors disappeared altogether and Britain's Damien Hirst went into freefall in the latest list of contemporary art's 100 most powerful figures.

But while the financial crisis claimed plenty of victims from a year ago, a group of well-connected, flexible and hitherto lesser known figures rose to the top, including Swiss curator Hans Ulrich Obrist who took the number one position.

Obrist, ranked 35th in 2008, is co-director of exhibitions and programs and director of international projects at London's Serpentine Gallery, and is also a writer and promoter.

In interviews over recent years he has championed smaller art galleries, which he says are important as well as major collections such as London's Tate Modern or the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.

ArtReview, the publication which compiles the annual power ranking, said its 2009 edition reflected "a year of extreme change in the economic landscape."

It "both reflects the fundamental changes in the international power structures of the art world and readdresses what power really means and how it is deployed.

"Hans Ulrich Obrist ... is a tireless advocate for contemporary art who operates close to the center of a network of influential thinkers and agenda-setters," ArtReview said.

It described Obrist as "one of the most active and well-networked figures the contemporary art world has seen."   Continued...