Presenting the much-coveted Alt Power 100 Artlyst 2021. This is our way of acknowledging our industry’s hard work and achievements, as we see it. The committee had a year off in 2020 due to the pandemic, but as most major art exhibitions and events have slowly resurfaced, it is again possible to compile the list.
The uncertainty caused by exhibitions opening and abruptly closing was a common occurrence in 2021. Biennales, fairs and global art events were announced then cancelled, leaving many institutions with massive debts. However, the resilience of our sector has proven robust, and even under strain, the visual art community has survived moving online and into new digital technologies.
As always, the Alt Power 100 Artlyst brings a clear and fresh perspective to the table, honouring the known faces of our trade while championing the personalities behind the scenes curating, organising, and helping to enrich our communities. Let’s look forward to the return of a full-on 2022. – Paul Carter Robinson Artlyst CEO – Sara Faith Associate Editor
Top 10 Alt Power 100 2021 Artlyst
1. Matthew Burrows CBE – Artist/ Founder of the Artists Support Pledge. Who would have thought that a simple hashtag# could help artists raise £30m and counting during lockdown?
2. Nan Goldin – Artist/Activist Founder of P.A.I.N. Nan and her organisation fought the mighty Sackler family manufacturers of the highly addictive opioid drug Oxycontin. P.A.I.N. has forced institutions to think about where the donors’ money comes from.
3. Mark Godfrey – Curator/Critic, former curator of international art at Tate Modern. Godfrey co-curated the cancelled then postponed Philip Guston exhibition, finding himself a sacrificial lamb after he was pressured to resign.
4. Paula Rego – Portuguese/British Feminist Artist What can we say about Dame Paula? Her Tate Britain retrospective was one of the best exhibitions of 2021.
5. Nicholas Serota – Chair of Arts Council England who worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to help struggling creative institutions and individuals find financial support.
6. Rebecca Salter PRA – Artist and First Female RA President. Her stewardship of the RA is set to infuse some colour, vigour and vim into a greying demographic.
7. Olafur Eliasson – Artist/ Ecologist – Olafur has taken radical steps to highlight global warming through his mainly installation-based practice.
8. Sir Frank Bowling – His 60-year career is a testament to his sensual use of colour and bold experimentation. Born in Guyana (then British Guiana) in 1934, at 19 years old, Bowling moved to London. He went on to study painting at the Royal College of Art alongside David Hockney and R.B. Kitaj.
9. Zoé Whitley Curator/Director – Moving as a curator of London’s Hayward Gallery to becoming the Director of the Chisenhale Gallery. In 2017, with Mark Godfrey, she organised “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power,” a highly regarded travelling survey of Black artists influenced by activism, at Tate Modern.
10. Kevin McCoy created the first NFT on 3rd May 2014. Employing a digital artist, he minted his NFT “Quantum,” a pixelated octagon filled with several pulsing shapes. This NFT sold at Sotheby’s on 28th November 2021 for $1.4 million.
Top 11-20 Alt Power 100 2021 Artlyst
11. Lynette Yiadom-Boakye – British painter
12. Sarah Dance – Project Director England’s Creative Coast
13. Sonia Boyce OBE – artist- representing the UK in 59th Venice Biennale
14. Edward Lucie-Smith – Art critic and senior art tastemaker
15. Isaac Julien CBE- Filmmaker and installation artist
16. James Lingwood and Michael Morris – outgoing Co-Directors of Artangel
17. Array Collective – winner of 2021 Turner Prize
18. Royal Academy Schools Student Body – collectively standing up for Trans rights
19. Barak adé Soleil / Chinasa Vivian Ezugha – Co-Directors LADA (Live Art Development Agency) supporting contemporary culture’s most radical and inventive artists, practices and ideas.
20. Jane Hamlyn – Chair Paul Hamlyn Foundation Director of The Frith Street Gallery
Alt Power 100 2021 Artlyst A-Z Order
1. Sir David Adjaye OBE RA – Ghanaian British architect, designer of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. In 2021, David Adjaye revealed his design for the District Hospitals project across Ghana, Accra and The Africa Institute in Sharjah, UAE.
2. Jane Alison – Head of Visual Arts Barbican since 2013. In 2021 the Barbican featured retrospectives of Jean Dubuffet and Isamu Noguchi
3. Sepake Angiama – Curator and educator, initiator of Under the Mango Tree: Sites of Learning. She likes to work with artists who disrupt or provoke the social sphere through actions, design, dance and architecture.
4. Array Collective – winner of 2021 Turner Prize, a group of individual artists in Belfast who join together to create collaborative actions in response to the socio-political issues affecting Northern Ireland.
5. Vanya Balogh – Artist/curator known for mounting art Exhibitions in unusual spaces
6. Maria Balshaw CBE – Director of Tate since 2017, first female Director of the Tate
7. Banksy – Political street artist. Has been very active in 2021 – raising money for NHS charities, unveiling new murals on the east coast of England and pledging to save Reading Gaol from developers
8. Lewis Biggs – Curator of Folkestone Triennial 2021 for the third time, presented 27 newly commissioned site-specific artworks this year.
9. Black Obsidian Sound System – Turner Prize nominee 2021. Collective formed in 2018 brings together a community of queer, trans and nonbinary Black and people of colour involved in art, sound and radical activism.
10. Iwona Blazwick OBE – Director of Art at the Whitechapel Gallery since 2001
11. Erica Bolton/Jane Quinn – PR gurus at Bolton & Quinn Ltd.
12. Osei Bonsu – Curator of International Art, Tate Modern responsible for organising exhibitions, developing the museum’s collection, and broadening the representation of African and African diaspora artists.
13. Dr Bruce Boucher – Director of the Sir John Soane’s Museum.
14. Sonia Boyce OBE – British Afro-Caribbean artist and Professor of Black Art and Design at University of the Arts London- selected by the British Council to represent Britain at the 59th Venice Biennale
15. Sir Frank Bowling OBE RA – Guyana-born British artist – had a significant exhibition at Arnolfini, Bristol, in 2021
16. A A Bronson – Artist, healer, curator, founder member General Idea. In 2021 he created a new film VideoVirus for World Aids Day, that was broadcast on a billboard in Piccadilly Circus
17. Matthew Burrows MBE – Artist/ Founder of the Artists Support Pledge hashtag that helped thousands of artists during the pandemic
18. Guy Casely-Hayford OBE – British curator cultural historian, broadcaster and lecturer with Ghanaian roots and Director of V&A East
19. Sheryll Catto – Co-Director ActionSpace, a charity that advocates for diversity within the contemporary visual arts sector, supporting neurodivergent artists to develop their artistic practice.
20. Lee Cavaliere – Art consultant, Founder of VOMA (Virtual Online Museum of Art), the world’s first virtual museum.
21. Aaron Cezar – Director of Delfina Foundation, an independent, non-profit foundation dedicated to facilitating artistic exchange and developing creative practise through residencies, partnerships and public programming.
22. Martin Clark – Director of the Camden Arts Centre
23. Cooking Sections – Turner Prize nominee 2021, Cooking Sections examines the systems that organise the world through food. Using site-responsive installation, performance and video, they explore the overlapping boundaries between art, architecture, ecology and geopolitics
24. Sarah Dance – Project Director England’s Creative Coast – an artistic initiative connecting the 1400km coastline that spans from the Thames Estuary to the English Channel
25. Edith Devaney – writer, curator, former Contemporary Curator and Head of Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, recently appointed as David Hockney’s Managing Director
26. Edmund de Waal CBE – artist, master potter, author. In 2021 he published his latest book, Letters to Camondo, which formed the basis for an exhibition in Paris, The Hare with Amber Eyes exhibition opened at The Jewish Museum New York, The Living Hand exhibition opened at Henry Moore Foundation
27. Olafur Eliasson is a Danish-Icelandic artist known for sculptures and large-scale installation art that employed basic materials such as light, water, and air temperature.
28. Ekow Eshun – journalist, broadcaster, curator, Chair of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group
29. Alex Farquharson – Director Tate Britain
30. Hedwig Fijen – Director of Manifesta, the European nomadic biennial.
31. Gabriele Finaldi – Director of the National Gallery, London
32. Forensic Architecture – research agency based at Goldsmiths, University of London, investigating human rights violations, including violence committed by states, police forces, militaries, and corporations.
33. Theaster Gates – American social practice installation artist. 2021 saw the start of a multi-venue presentation of his work at the Whitechapel Gallery, which will continue at the V&A and Serpentine galleries in 2022.
34. Gentle Radical -Turner Prize nominee 2021 – a project based in Cardiff run by artists, community workers, faith practitioners, writers and others advocating for art as a tool for social change.
35. Liz Gilmore – Director Hastings Contemporary – exhibitions in 2021 included Seaside Modern, Quentin Blake: We Live in Worrying Times, Turner Prize nominees Project Art Works and A Generous Space, IRL exhibition of the Artist Support Pledge
36. Mark Godfrey – curator, critic, former senior curator of international art Tate Modern and the curator of the abandoned Philip Guston exhibition at Tate
37.. RoseLee Goldberg – Founding Director and Chief Curator of Performa. The 2021 edition was a free event that took place entirely outdoors in New York.
38. Nan Goldin – American photographer who highlighted the OxyContin epidemic and isolated the Sackler family’s role as the manufacturers. The Met dropped the Sackler name from its building, as did the Louvre and numerous other global institutions following the lead.
39. Jane Hamlyn – Chair Paul Hamlyn Foundation Director of The Frith Street Gallery. In 2021 the PHF awarded £25,000 each to 20 visual artists and 20 composters.
40. Harmony Hammond – American artist, activist, curator and writer. A prominent figure in the founding of the feminist art movement in 1970s New York. In 2021 her work was included in the Women in Abstraction exhibition at Pompidou in Paris and Guggenheim, Bilbao.
41. Marcus Harvey – co-founder and Director Turps offering supportive mentoring and peer-led learning for artists
42. Margot Heller OBE – Director of South London Gallery, was responsible for embedding the gallery in its local community while establishing its international reputation.
43. Paul Hobson – Director of Modern Art Oxford. 2021 programme included Samson Kambalu: New Liberia and Anish Kapoor: Painting
44. David Hockney OM CH RA – British painter, 2021 exhibition included The Arrival of Spring, Normandy at the RA and new video work at Picadilly Circus
45. Alistair Hudson – Director of Manchester Art Galleries since 2018
46. Tristram Hunt – Director of V&A since 2017
47. Waldemar Januszczak – English Art Critic and television documentary producer and presenter
48. Arthur Jafa, an American video artist, showcased his first film after winning the Golden Lion at the 2019 Venice Biennale. AGHDRA continues his themes of Black survival
49. Isaac Julien CBE RA – British Filmmaker and installation artist
50. Dr Samantha Lackey – Director of Liverpool Biennial. The 2021 edition was postponed from 2020 and met the challenges of the pandemic through a combination of outdoor venue and online viewings
51. Simone Leigh – will be the first Black woman to represent the USA at the 59th Venice Biennale
52. Clare Lilley – Director of Programme YSP, curator of Frieze Sculpture
53. James Lingwood and Michael Morris – outgoing Co-Directors of Artangel who commission and produce some of the most exciting site-specific works
54. Edward Lucie-Smith – Art critic and senior art tastemaker
55. Seema Manchanda – Director of The Showroom, chair of the Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG), a national race equality charity.
56. Tim Marlow – Critic, broadcaster and Director of The Design Museum
57. Kevin McCoy created the first NFT on 3rd May 2014. Employing a digital artist, he minted his NFT “Quantum,” a pixelated octagon filled with a number of pulsing shapes. This NFT sold at Sotheby’s on 28th November 2021 for $1.4 million.
58. Sarah McCrory – Director of Goldsmith’s CCA Gallery set up to enhance Goldsmiths’ reputation for
excellence and innovation in the arts.
59. Sir Steve McQueen – CBE and Turner Prize-winning video artist turned Oscar-winning Filmmaker,
60. Ibrahim Mahama – Ghanaian author and artist of monumental installations, winner of the Pino Pascali Award 2021 given to an artist who is still waiting to be officially recognised despite being known internationally
61. Frances Morris – Director of Tate Modern
62. Zanele Muholi – South African visual activist, photographer, video and installation artist focussing on gender, race and sexuality. Exhibition at Tate Modern in 2021.
63. Sarah Munro – Director of the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art
64. Oscar Murillo – Colombian born painter. In 2021 he created the Hackney Secondary school project in which 100,000 school children from around the world submitted canvases that were put on display in his old school
65. Andrew Nairne OBE – Director Kettle’s Yard
66. Francis Nelson – Director of Culture Coventry. Coventry was City of Culture 2021 and the Herbert Gallery hosted the 2021 Turner Prize exhibition.
67. Helen Nisbet – Curator of Art Night which for the first time took place across the UK for a full month
68. James Payne – Great Art Explained video series created by artist/art historian James Payne to demystify some of the world’s great works of art
69. Sir Jack and Lady Frances Petchey (Frances Segelman Sculptor) philanthropic inspiring young inner-city people to achieve
70. James Peto – Head of Public Programmes Wellcome Collection.
71. Michael Petry – Multi-media artist, writer and curator. Director of MOCA London, co-founder of the Museum of Installation
72. Lucia Pietroiusti – Founder of the General Ecology Project at Serpentine Galleries
73. Victoria Pomery OBE – Takes over as CEO of The Box, Plymouth leaving her role as Founding Director of Turner Contemporary
74. Project Artworks – Turner Prize nominee 2021 – a collective of neurodiverse artists and makers based in Hastings.
75. Meni Rosenfeld – wrote a paper released On 4th December 2012, introducing the concept of Coloured Coins. They were issued on the Bitcoin blockchain, representing and managing real-world assets on top of the Bitcoin blockchain. This can be used to prove ownership of those assets. They are ordinary Bitcoins. However, they contain a unique digital minting mark.
76. Ralph Rugoff, Director Hayward Gallery
77. Rebecca Salter PRA – Artist President of the Royal Academy of Arts
78. Rebecca Scott and Mark Woods – Artist power couple – founders of Cross Lane Projects in Kendal Cumbria
79. Royal Academy Schools Student Body – collectively standing up for Trans Rights
80. Nicholas Serota – Chair of Arts Council England who has worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to help struggling creative institutions and individuals with financial support
81. Barak adé Soleil / Chinasa Vivian Ezugha – Co-Directors LADA (Live Art Development Agency) supporting contemporary culture’s most radical and inventive artists, practices and ideas.
82. Sally Shaw MBE – Director of Firstsite Colchester, Art Fund Museum of the Year 2021
83. Yinka Shonibare CBE RA – British-Nigerian artist and co-ordinator of 2021 RA Summer Exhibition
84. Anthony Spira – Director of MK Gallery, 2021 exhibitions included a fresh look at Laura Knight
85. Alexander Sturgis – Director of Ashmolean Museum Oxford
86. Bridget Riley CH CBE – English Op Art painter who turned 90 this year
87. Dame Paula Rego –Portuguese-British painter who had a retrospective show at Tate Britain this year
88. Bob and Roberta Smith OBE – Contemporary British Artist is known for painting slogan-bearing signage to support various political causes.
89. Deborah Swallow – Director of Courtauld including the gallery that reopened in 2021 after major remodelling
90. Paul Thompson – Vice-Chancellor of the Royal College of Art, the world’s most influential postgraduate institution of art
91. Jeremy Till – Head of Central Saint Martins
92.. Russell Tovey / Robert Diament – Talk Art podcast by actor and 2021 Turner Prize Judge Russell Tovey and galleriest Robert Diament who kept us entertained and informed during the pandemic
93. Dr Nicola Triscott – CEO FACT, Liverpool the UK’s leading organisation for the support and exhibition of art, film and new media.
94. Fatos Ustek – Independent Curator/writer, jury member for Arts Foundation Futures Award 2021 and curator of Scotland in Venice 2022 and the Dutch Pavilion 2022.
95. Simon Wallis – Director Hepworth Museum, the Hepworth celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2021
96. Kara Walker – American contemporary painter, silhouettist, printmaker, installation artist and filmmaker who explores race, gender, sexuality, violence and identity in her work.
97. Clarrie Wallis – new Director Turner Contemporary and former senior curator of Contemporary Art at Tate
98. Zoé Whitley – Director of Chisenhale Gallery, 2021 Turner Prize Judge
99. Lynette Yiadom-Boakye – British painter and writer whose exhibition at Tate Britain was cut short by the pandemic but will return at the end of 2022
100. Anita and Poju Zabludowicz – Collectors, Founders the Zabludowicz Collection, London
Special mention to : Achim Borchardt-Hume (1965-2021) Director of exhibitions at Tate and to Christo and Jeanne Claude for finally achieving the wrapping of L’Arc de Triomphe, Paris