LONDON (Reuters Life!) - U.S. collector and gallery owner Larry Gagosian has been named the art world’s most powerful figure in the annual ArtReview ranking, dominated this year by established commercial galleries.
Gagosian has nine galleries around the world after opening a new space in Paris, as well as an office in Hong Kong and a shop in New York.
He reclaims the position he held in 2004, and in the last 12 months staged “museum quality” exhibitions of Picasso, Monet, Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Prince and the Crash group show, a homage to J.G. Ballard.
“Some of what he shows is extraordinary, but it’s increasingly served up with a side dish of arrogance,” ArtReview wrote on Thursday.
“This is not appealing, but it’s the behavior of power in excelsis, when all competition has vanished from the rearview.”
Swiss curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, last year’s number one, was second in the list, while his compatriot Iwan Wirth, a dealer and gallery owner, came third.
German David Zwirner, with three New York gallery spaces and a fourth on its way, rose from 12th in 2009 to fourth, while Glenn D. Lowry, director of the Museum of Modern Art, fell to fifth from second place last year.
“In 2010, for better or worse, power lay with the established commercial gallery market,” ArtReview said in its introduction to the ranking, which is decided by an anonymous panel of experts and published during the Frieze Art Fair in London.
“Funding cuts by governments internationally weakened the hand of museum directors worldwide, allowing the financial might and artist rosters handled by the likes of Gagosian and Wirth to step in,” it added.
The highest-placed artist was China’s Ai Weiwei, who recently presented his installation for the high-profile Unilever Series at the Tate Modern gallery in London.
ArtReview called Ai, who ranked 13th from 43rd in 2009, “a thorn in the side of the Chinese authorities” but also warned:
“(A) question hangs over his seeming ubiquity on the gallery circuit: can he maintain viewers’ interest, or is he in danger of overexposure?”
British artist Damien Hirst, whose company topped the list in 2008 shortly after he raised $193 million at a record-breaking one-man auction at Sotheby’s, slumped to 48th in 2009 and slipped further to 53rd in 2010.
Following are ArtReview’s top 10 most powerful individuals in the world of art in 2010:
1. Larry Gagosian/United States/gallerist
2. Hans Ulrich Obrist/Switzerland/curator
3. Iwan Wirth/Switzerland/gallerist
4. David Zwirner/Germany/gallerist
5. Glenn D. Lowry/United States/museum director
6. Bice Curiger/Switzerland/curator
7. Nicholas Serota/Britain/museum director
8. Eli Broad/United States/collector
9. RoseLee Goldberg/South Africa/curator
10. Francois Pinault/France/collector
Editing by Steve Addison