Who are the individuals leading the global art market today? The Observer, a British newspaper and sister publication to the Guardian, has named the power players changing the narrative of what art is and who it’s for, now and in the future, 2023 Business of Art Power List.
According to The Observer, despite the downturn in the art market, recent optimism in the Asian art market is largely attributed to art fairs, especially Frieze.
Frieze, which operates fairs in five locations worldwide, including Seoul, acquired The Armory Show and EXPO CHICAGO this year. With its expansion, Frieze has now gained considerable strength, rivaling the world’s largest art fair, Art Basel.
Despite “fair fatigue,” galleries cannot afford to skip art fairs due to the vibrant supply and demand for art. According to the prestigious Art Basel and UBS Art Market reports, 35% of gallery sales in 2022 came from art fairs, and dealers expect this percentage to increase in the coming years.
The Observer speculated that the influence of art fairs would continue and has selected figures from the art fair business, including Frieze’s director Christine Messineo, Anchor shareholder of MCH Group Art Basel James Murdoch, and Art Basel CEO Noah Horowitz.
The Observer sees this as an effect of low interest rates. With the recent strengthening of the dollar and the Korean won hitting its lowest value in 13 years in 2022, art collecting is thriving in Asia due to low interest rates. This influence has led several Western galleries, such as White Cube, Peres Projects, Gladstone, and Thaddaeus Ropac, to open or expand exhibition spaces in Seoul in recent years.
This optimism applies not only to Seoul but to the rest of Asia. Phillips, one of the world’s top three auction houses, inaugurated a new Asian headquarters in Hong Kong this year. Furthermore, Asian collectors are now filling the void left by Western collectors, traversing various fairs. The list includes gallery owners who operate outposts in Korea and figures from organizations that have expanded their operations in Asia.
Changes were not limited to the market. In the art world, women are taking on key roles and leading new changes. Examples include Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of the Studio Museum, and Kaywin Feldman, Director of the National Gallery of Art in the US.
In 2023, The Observer has selected 41 business figures leading the contemporary art world. The list can be found at the link below.