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Most Influential Koreans in the Art World:
ArtReview’s Power 100 and ARTnews’s Top 200 Collectors

Two media outlets have announced their annual lists of the most influential arts people around the world:

ArtReview, an international contemporary art magazine based in London which has been announcing the Power 100, an annual ranking of the world’s most influential arts people since 2002, 

and ARTnews, an American art magazine established in 1902 that has been announcing its annual Top 200 Collectors for more than 30 years.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash.

ArtReview’s 2021 list was disclosed on December 1. This year, 30 professionals from all over the world participated to select the top 100 influencers based on how active they have been in the industry and their sphere of influence in the art world throughout the year.

Among the 100 most influential figures in the art world, Hyun-Sook Lee, founder and chairperson of Kukje Gallery, was the only Korean to be selected, ranking 79th. Lee has been included in the list since 2015, when she ranked 82nd.

Hyun-Sook Lee, 2017. Photo by Penn Studio. ©Kukje Gallery.

Kukje Gallery is one of the largest galleries in Korea, and it participates in world-renowned art fairs such as Art Basel, Frieze, and FIAC. The gallery represents a large range of internationally renowned artists from the 20th century to mega-contemporary artists, including Donald Judd, Alexander Calder, Anish Kapoor, and Ugo Rondinone.

Kukje Gallery. Photo by Aproject Company.
Kukje Gallery. Photo by Aproject Company.

Korean artists who were showcased at the gallery this year were film director and photographer Park Chan-wook, Dansaekhwa artist Park Seo-Bo, conceptual artist Ahn Kyuchul, and contemporary painter Jina Park. Dansaekhwa artist Kwon Young-Woo’s paintings are currently featured at the gallery until January 30, 2022.

This year’s Power 100 included many important art figures of Korean descent. Anicka Yi, who is exhibiting at Tate Modern in the UK as the sixth Hyundai Card commission artist, ranked 44th; South Korean-born Swiss-German philosopher Byung-Chul Han, the author of The Burnout Society and a professor at the Berlin University of the Arts, ranked 55th; and Hong Kong M+ Deputy Director and Chief Curator Doryun Chong was ranked 78th along with Director Suhanya Raffel.

Phillip Chun & Choi Yoon-jung, Paradise Group. ©Paradise Group.

ARTnews selected the 200 most active art collectors in the world based on interviews with dealers, auctioneers, museum directors, curators, and consultants.

Paradise Group Chairman Phillip Chun and Paradise Culture Foundation Chairperson Choi Yoon-jung, a couple who have been on the list since 2018, were the only Koreans nominated on the list.

Other Korean art collectors who made the ARTnews top 200 collectors list in the past were Kim Chang-il, chairman of Arario Group; Lee Kun-hee, the late chairman of Samsung Group, and his wife Hong Ra-hee, who was the former director of Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art; and Suh Kyung-bae, CEO of AmorePacific.

'Gazing Ball (Farnese Hercules)' by Jeff Koons, and 'Aurous Cyanide' by Damien Hirst
at Paradise Art Space, Incheon. ©Paradise Art Space.

Chun and Choi began to make their name in the art world when they started to exhibit artworks in Paradise City, a resort complex in Incheon, Korea, in 2017. The collection in the resort now comprises about 3,000 pieces.

While a number of the works are by big-name international artists, the Paradise Group couple has been playing an important role in promoting Korean contemporary art, as 90% of the displayed works are by Korean artists.

These Korean artists include Choi Jeong Hwa, who is known for creating large-scale installations with mass-produced materials; Kim Tschang-Yeul, known for his water drop paintings; Park Seo-Bo, one of the most renowned Dansaekhwa painters; and Lee Yongbaek, who works with a variety of technological media.

Additionally, a number of artworks by blue-chip international artists such as Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Yayoi Kusama, and Anish Kapoor are also on view at the resort.

'Golden Crown' by Choi Jeong Hwa at Paradise City, Incheon, Korea.
Photo by Kim Do Gyoon. ©DongA.com.

The pair also opened Paradise Art Space in 2018, which claims to be the hub of Asian contemporary art and introduces works by various domestic and international artists.

Paradise Group also runs an exhibition space, Paradise ZIP, in Seoul and supports media art through its Paradise Art Lab program.

In addition, Choi received the Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award in 2018, and she is currently one of the vice presidents of the Korea Mecenat Association.

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