The London-based publication ArtReview has published the 2021 edition of its annual “Power 100” list, and while the top position is usually held by an influential figure within the art world, this year the #1 spot went to a movement: Black Lives Matter.
In a press release announcing this year’s list, ArtReview said, “In a period of social and cultural upheaval, the social justice movement’s unprecedented influence is signaled not only by its overarching position on the list—and this is the first time a movement rather than an individual has been at the top of the Power 100—but also in the shaping of this list.”
The editors of the list acknowledged that the coronavirus pandemic has also had sweeping effects on the world, but said it was the Black Lives Matter movement—in particular the protests across the U.S. sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the end of May—that have proven to be most consequential for the art world in 2020.
“It is the long-standing issues concerning racial justice and equity that have come to dominate public consciousness,” the release continues. “In the art world, the power of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has impelled and accelerated change at every level: in the resurgence of statue-toppling in the U.S. and across Europe, as campaigners seek to redress injustices of the historical record; in the visibility of Black contemporary artists; in awards and appointments; in the rush by galleries to diversify their rosters; in museums rethinking who they represent and how they do it. Both an explicit movement and a dispersed idea, BLM has come to symbolize a global reckoning on racial justice and a paradigm shift in contemporary culture.”
Other people included at the top of the “Power 100” list include ruangrupa, the Indonesian artist collective that is organizing Documenta 15 at #2; scholars Felwine Sarr and Bénédicte Savoy, whose report on restitution of African objects in French museums has continued to be influential, placed at #3. Rounding out the Top 5 is the #MeToo movement at #4 and theorist Fred Moten at #5.
Last year’s top figure, Glenn D. Lowry, the director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, moved down to number 7, while gallerist David Zwirner (#1 in 2018) is now in the #30 spot and artist Hito Steyerl (#1 in 2017) is now at #18.
The top 10 entries are below, and the full list can be found at ArtReview.
Black Lives Matter
Felwine Sarr & Bénédicte Savoy
Glenn D. Lowry