ARTnews Top 200 List

Lists, Lists, and More Lists

It’s inescapable! No matter where you turn this time of year, you are inundated by Lists: Personal Lists, Best and Worst Lists, and obviously, my personal favorite, Art Lists

For much of its existence, the ARTnews Top 200 List has been comprised of a rather small and rarefied group of collectors whose names were a mixture of well known titans of industry and old money, none of whom have ever encountered an Impressionist or Post-Impressionist work he or she didn’t like.

Now 30 years old, this year’s list marks a clear shift in not only in who is doing the collecting, but what is being collecting.

Collectors across the board are looking for something new that is also of great quality—in concert with what’s happening curatorially in museums and in scholarly gallery shows.” The result is “shifting the conversation away from simply dead white men to artists of color and women.”

Sara Friedlander, Christie’s head of postwar and contemporary art

The art world of 2019 is hard to miss, thanks in large part to an ‘openness’ that didn’t exist 30, 20, even 10  years ago. Amongst the driving forces to accessibility are the increasing importance of social media as a means of discovery, new methods of ownership, growing popularity of art fairs, and greater access to information and art market insights. 

Here are a few highlights from this year’s list:

Pamela J. Joyner and Alfred J. Giuffrida

African-American abstract art; Art of the African diaspora; Contemporary South African art

Pamela Joyner is on a mission to change the face of modern art as we know it, and she is succeeding! Joyner, who, like many, started buying art out of a need to fill blank walls, has become one of the most important voices in the art world. By focusing underrepresented artists of African descent, Joyner and her husband have built one of the world’s leading collections of fine art from the African Diaspora. 

Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean and Alicia Keys

Contemporary art, with a focus on artists of color

Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean has been experimenting with ways for artists to find buyers for their work without interference from intermediaries, by way of what he calls, No Commission art fairs. He’s behind an app called Sm(art) Collection to allow direct sales.

When Sean “Diddy” Combs snapped up a Kerry James Marshall at Sotheby’s New York for a record-setting $21.1 million in 2018, it was Dean who steered him toward the work. “It took me 10 years for that to happen,” he told ARTnews in a 2019 profile, discussing the time it took to get Diddy interested in Black art. “I was like, ‘This Kerry James Marshall has to stay in the culture.’”

Adrian Cheng

Contemporary Chinese art; International contemporary art

Adrian Cheng believes firmly in two things: first, that art is for the masses, and second, that the masses are likely, at one time or another, to go to the mall. In his K11 Art Malls, which he calls a “new museum model,” Cheng has placed art at their center: retail shopping on the main floors provides both the financial support and the audience for the art displayed in the basement. 

Cheng wants to generally educate the public about art,  but he specifically wants to raise the visibility of Chinese contemporary art. “I think the new contemporary Chinese art is reinventing Chinese cultural identity and building up a new Chinese culture,” Cheng told ARTnews in 2014.