Swiss couple Iwan and Manuela Wirth have topped ArtReview magazine’s 2015 “Power 100″—an annual list of the most influential people in the contemporary art world—becoming the second commercial gallerists to do so since the list was first established in 2002.
The British magazine’s list, which was published on Thursday, is dominated by dealers and collectors with a few appearances by politically active artists. The list is decided by a 16-member international jury.
Chinese artist and free-speech activist Ai Weiwei, who is well-known in Britain for his 2010 sunflower seeds installation in the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, was ranked second. German gallery owner David Zwirner, who was in second place last year, took the third spot.
The winning couple, who have made ArtReview‘s top 10 every year for the past decade, have spaces in Zurich, London, New York and Somerset and, from next year, Los Angeles. They were praised for their unique style of buying and showcasing artwork, in particular, their most recent renovation of a 15th century farmhouse in Somerset that the magazine describes as not just a gallery, but a “multi-purpose art center.”
ArtReview‘s editor, Mark Rappolt told Reuters, “[The Wirth’s style is] partly about breaking away from the conventional gallery model which is sort of a slightly oppressive white-cube space that could be in any place almost at any time and moving toward a series of galleries that are specific to their content.
“It’s a departure from the sort of very forbidding gallery that we’re used to,” he said.
Rappolt also explained why several museum directors, including Nicholas Serota of the Tate art museums and galleries in London, had made the top 10. “I think there’s still the sense that a museum exhibition validates an artist…and these kinds of shows tend to be more important than maybe a conventional gallery show,” he said.
American artists Theaster Gates and Trevor Paglen are among the politically motivated artists to make the list. Gates, considered by ArtReview as the “poster boy for socially engaged art,” established his activism after converting dilapidated structures in the Chicago’s South Side district into cultural facilities this month.
Other artists to appear on the list are Marina Abramovich, Wolfgang Tillmans, Jeff Koons and Steve McQueen. Larry Gagosian, the first commercial gallerist to top the list in 2004 and 2010, ranked sixth this year.
Power100 Top 10 List
1. Iwan and Manuela Wirth
Major gallerist with spaces in Zurich, London, New York, Los Angeles and Somerset.
2. Ai Weiwei
Artist and social activist.
3. David Zwirner
The head of a New York and London gallery empire.
4. Hans Ulrich Obrist and Julia Peyton-Jones
Director of the Serpentine Galleries.
5. Nicholas Serota
Director of the Tate.
6. Larry Gagosian
Gallerist with 13 venues worldwide.
7. Glenn D. Lowry
Director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
8. Marina Abramović
9. Adam D. Weinberg
Director of the Whitney Museum of American Art.
10. Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev
Curator of the 2015 Istanbul Biennial, and the lauded Documenta 13.