Kerry James Marshall Named Most Influential Contemporary Artist

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Kerry James Marshall, the American figurative painter who set a record at auction this year for the most expensive work by a living black artist, has been judged the world’s most influential artist in an annual contemporary power list.

He is No 2 in the 17th edition of the ArtReview Power 100, pipped to the top spot by his dealer, the gallery owner David Zwirner.

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At No 3 is #MeToo, the first time a movement has appeared on the list as opposed to an individual or a group.

JJ Charlesworth, senior editor at the magazine, said a major theme of the list, published on Friday, was “an attempt to acknowledge and note the cultural and political shifts which have been part of the narrative in the last year”.

He said there were more curators and artists from places that might previously have been considered on the periphery of the art world. “The idea of the art scene being dominated by America and Europe is no longer a proper account of what’s going on,” he added.

Marshall rose from No 68 on the previous year’s list, after a year in which Sean Combs, previously known as P.Diddy, bought Past Times, his take on a pastoral European aristocratic scene, for $21.1m at auction, a record for a living black artist.

It also follows the Tate’s acquisition of a new Marshall painting Untitled (London Bridge), after reportedly waiting four years for the artist to complete it.

Marshall, who grew up in South Central Los Angeles during the peak of the civil rights battle and has been based for many years in Chicago, is an artist who consistently challenges the whitewashing of art history. In a 2016 interview he said: “If no one is out there working to produce paintings with a racially different set of figures, non-white people will always be in trouble.”

The list is unquestionably diverse but a middle-aged white male is still top. Charlesworth said Zwirner had been in the top 10 for a long time, in competition with other heavy-hitting gallery dealers.

Zwirner is one of the world’s leading dealers with a stable of more than 60 artists, as well as estates and galleries in London, New York and Hong Kong. As well as Marshall, he represents Yayoi Kusama (16 on the list) and the Turner Prize-winning German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans (11), whose eagerly awaited designs for a new English National Opera production of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem will debut next week.

Striking risers and entrants into the list include Eyal Weizman (94 to nine) who founded Forensic Architecture, a collective who investigate state crimes, which is nominated for this year’s Turner Prize; the poet, critic and theorist Fred Moten (new entry at 10) and Nan Goldin (new entry at 18), the American photographer who is leading a crusade against the Sackler Family, art patrons whose company Purdue Pharma has been blamed for the opioid crisis.

The list reflects the ebbs and flows of artists’ perceived careers. There is no place for Jeff Koons or Damien Hirst but new entries for the Chinese artist Cao Fei (41), the American conceptual artist Adrian Piper (49) and the British artist John Akomfrah (94).

Top 10 (last year’s ranking)

1 David Zwirner (5)

2 Kerry James Marshall (68)

3 #MeToo (new)

4 Hito Steyerl (1)

5 Ai Weiwei (13)

6 Iwan & Manuela Wirth (7)

7 Hans Ulrich Obrist (6)

8 Thelma Golden (8)

9 Eyal Weizman (94)

10 Fred Moten (new)

Source : https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2018/nov/09/kerry-james-marshall-named-most-influential-contemporary-artist

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