The most influential people in the art world.

10 top personalities in the art ecosystem.

The most influential people in the art world.

The art world is huge and diverse, and includes many different professions and people of all kind – intellectual, temperamental, guided through the ups and downs of the market, gallerists, artists, critics, collectors, art advisors and many others, they configure a system that works like clockwork. However there are always leaders, those who determine the way to follow, the artists to take into consideration, and who validate a whole sector, from concept to pricing. We can’t stay up to date about whatever is happening in the art world if we don’t know who are those people who are guiding it.

This is why in KOYAC - according to our will to make our readers art experts and trained collectors – we want to share with you 10 names that, nowadays, are some the most important people in the contemporary art scene, while followed by many others.


1.Hans Ulrich Obrist: Artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries and creator of global, networked art projects

Appart from directing the exhibitions and international projects program of the Serpentine Galleries, he has also created his Interview Project, constituting thousands of hours of recorded interviews with artists, architects and significant figures from any world that implies the creation of our culture. This Project becomes, in the end, an archive of the ideas of our times, preserved for eternity and released in a series of books.

Another Project he created, partnering with artists Christian Boltanski and Bertrand Lavier, responds to “do it”, an exhibition concept in which artists submit ‘scores’ or written instructions creating open-ended conversations. What is vital in Obrist’s contribution to the art world is his ability to connect people, which has been crucial to the success of many artists. Thanks to Obrist, artistic ideas circulate within the world at large.

2. Adam Szymczyk: Artistic director of Documenta 14

This polish curator has taken Documenta to the next level, working across two cities, Athens and Documenta’s hometown of Kassel. Its temporary takeover of Athens, under the idea of South as a State of Mind, has stated the will for critical inquiry driven by a sense of the political, social and ecological urgency of this historical moment.

Understanding Athens and Kassel as two emblematic cities that show the current extreme and polarised states of Europe, economically and socially, Szymczyk encourages Documenta to open a conversation between this two poles of a same body.

3. Iwan and Manuela Wirth: gallerists with spaces in London, Zurich, NY, Somerset and Los Angeles

After driving all the attention to their exhibition space in Somerset, this last 2016 they opened their newest space in Los Angeles, a project which results from their partnership with MOCA chief curator Paul Schimmel. This new space counts with a gallery, a library and a restaurant, all spread in 2.200 sqm. It’s first exhibition, Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women, 1947–2016, lead to an exhibition programme dominated by women, with solo shows for Maria Lassnig or Isa Genzken. The museum-like approach of the exhibitions and the educational programme has won many admirers. Some other news for the Wirths are the announcement of another new exhibition space for 2018, in this case in the balearic island of Menorca, and the acquisition of the states of Arshile Gorky and Lygia Pape to their list of represented artists.


4. David Zwirner: gallerist with spaces in New York, London and soon-to-be in Hong Kong

He is one of the most important gallerists in the world, who at the end of 2017 will be opening a new space in Hong Kong ready to conquer the asian market.

He has also added the representation of photographer William Eggleston and the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation to his list. Meanwhile, his son Lucas has lead gallery’s publishing house to new directions, launching a series of art historical or theoretical texts, independent from the gallery’s programme, the first to be Proust’s 1895 essay on Chardin and Rembrandt.


5. Nicolas Serota: ExTate Director and current chairman of the Arts Council of England

This past 2016 it’s been quite a year for Serota. With the opening of Tate Modern’s new Herzog & de Meuron-designed Switch House building, which provides the museum with a 60 percent more space, Tate’s director found the opportunity to rehang the museum’s collection giving bigger representation to women artists, as well as to international artists. With the addition of new directors for the Tate Modern and the Tate Britain, Serota, at his 70’s, finally announced his step back from Tate but this does not mean his retirement: since this past september he assumed the role of chairman of the Arts Council of England.


6. Larry Gagosian: Gallerist with 16 venues worldwide

Larry Gagosian is the number one gallerist in the world, having the widest selection of galleries all over the planet, being 16 in total with spaces in NYC, London, Paris, San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Rome, Athens, Geneva and Hong Kong.

Among the artists he represents we find names such as Joseph Beuys, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, Albert Oehlen, Gerhard Richter, Sterling Ruby, Christopher Wool or Richard Prince. Also, some classics such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Francis Bacon, Alberto Giacometti, Yves Klein, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg. Last year he got back Damien Hirst’s representation, and his list of artists keeps growing year by year, counting now with 130 names.

The most influential people in the art world.

The most influential people in the art world.

7. Hito Steyerl: Artist-as-theorist, theorist-as-artist

Filmmaker, visual artist, writer and innovator on the essay documentary. She has participated in the Berlin Biennale of 2016 and also in Manifesta 5, Shanghai Biennale, Documenta 12, Istambul Biennale and the Venice Biennale of 2013 and 2015. She also collaborates with many critical art publications such as e-flux.

Militarization, surveillance migration, the role of media in globalization, technology and the dissemination of images and the culture surrounding are her main subjects. Steyerl has pushed both the role and the label of fine artists through a work made from research, interviews, and the collection of found images, culminating in pedagogically oriented work.


8. Adam D. Weinberg: Director of the Whitney Museum of American Art

With the opening of the new Whitney building by architect Renzo Piano in 2015, Weinberg’s home has become one of the hot spots to visit in the art world lately. This year it started with both Frank Stella and Carmen Herrera retrospectives, and is currently showing Alexander Calder and Helio Oiticica. By the end of the year, it will be closing 2017 showing Jimmy Durham’s work. Behind all of this there’s Winberg pulling the strings, which inevitably makes of him one of the people to watch in the art scene today.


9.Wolfang Tillmans: Artist photographer and activist

This is the first non-brittish artist to have won the Turner Prize, in 2000. Since then, his career has continued to grow. This year 2017 he has had two major retorspectives at the same time, one at the Tate Modern in London and the other one in the Beyeler Foundation in Basel. In 2016 he also released his first record in which he mixed techno with vocals collaborating with Singer Frank Ocean. He has also a non-profit exhibition space of his own in Berlin called Between Bridges, in which he keeps working.


10. Ai Wei Wei: Artist and Social Activist.

Ai Wei Wei is specialized in conecting art to social and cultural value. He is a constant critic of the chinese goverment by reinforcing publicly and through his art his posture towards democracy and human rights. He has also done a lot of research on chinese governamental corruption and concealment. He has been arrested by his own country for all of his public complaints.

Ai Wei Wei is the artist that has influenced the most in politics through his art, becoming one of the most influential and powerful artists of his time.

You may also be interested in

What is an artist coach?
Art market - 13.05.20
Women: 5 legends and 5 faces of the future of the art market
Art market - 04.03.20

We request your permission to obtain statistics from your navigation through this website. If you stay on this website we understand that you accept the use of cookies. 

OK | More information