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Mover and shaker Swiss curator Obrist tops art world power ranking

Obrist has a reputation for being one of the most active and well-connected figures in the contemporary art world


Hans Ulrich Obrist, a Swiss curator and artistic director of London’s Serpentine Galleries who is known as a whirlwind of energy and social connections, has been named the most powerful figure in the international art world by the influential ArtReview journal.

This is the second time he has won the accolade.

Obrist was chosen for the top place in the ArtReview Power 100 rankingexternal link by an international panel of 20 writers, artists, curators and critics. It is the second time that he has been named the most powerful figure in the global art world for his work as artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries external linksince 2006, and as an art critic, curator, author and panellist. He last won the award in 2009.

The 48-year-old, described as an ‘instigator of global networked art products’, is one of the most active and well-connected figures in the contemporary art world. Prior to the Serpentine Galleries, he was curator of the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. He has also curated and co-curated several hundred solo and group exhibitions and biennales internationally since 1991.

ArtReview said in an online statement published on Thursday that Obrist was “famous for ignoring traditional constraints of both time (he works nearly constantly, and famously founded the Brutally Early Club, an open-to-all discussion group that meets at 6.30am) and geographic place (he is in perpetual motion, giving talks and doing interviews at nearly every significant art event around the globe), and a single institution could never hope to house the full breadth of his activities.”

In second place came Polish curator Adam Szymczyk, who will be the artistic director of Documenta in 2017, the influential contemporary art show in Kassel, Germany, that only happens once every five years.

Swiss couple Iwan and Manuela Wirth, who topped the ArtReview Power 100 for the first time in 2015, came in third. Their art empire spans New York, Zurich, London, Somerset and Los Angeles.

Founded in 1949, ArtReview is one of the world’s leading international contemporary art magazines aimed at both a specialist and a general audience. The Power 100 is compiled each year and considered one of the most established rankings in the art world.

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