The Influentials: Art

Richard Prince and David RockefellerPhoto: Roger Deckker

Richard Prince
Appropriation artist
Blurred the line between ad icon and art object with his “Marlboro Men”; explored celebrity obsession long before Brangelina came to dominate the news cycle. Still holds disproportionate sway over the market and the museum—and especially over younger artists like Kelley Walker and Nate Lowman.

Elizabeth Peyton
Peyton’s breezily intimate portraits of “It” boys—a category encompassing Pete Doherty, John Kerry, and her own friends and lovers—have proved impossible to imitate (but that doesn’t stop young artists like Hernan Bas and Nick Mauss from trying). The 41-year-old North Fork resident brought portraiture into the 21st century. The 2004 Whitney Biennial compared her to David Hockney, and one of her petite canvases, depicting John Lennon, went for $800,000 at auction last year.

Cindy Sherman
Brought photography into the fine-art category with her “Untitled Film Stills.” Prices for her work at auction put her at the forefront of the art boom: Once a poor-stepchild commodity, photographs, even recent ones, can now approach seven figures. Sherman’s still making costumed self-portraits, taking cues from performance art, that subvert identity while indulging narrative and fantasy, a seductive and fresh mix.

Larry Gagosian
The George Steinbrenner of dealers—he just keeps drinking up talent (John Currin and Paul Pfeiffer, lately), leaving less for everyone else. Gagosian is so synonymous with the robust art market that a group of curators recently spoofed him by opening a nonprofit “Gagosian Berlin.” With real branches in L.A., London, and Rome (and a second Chelsea location rumored), Larry has the muscle to mount shows by Cecily Brown, Francesco Vezzoli, and Richard Serra simultaneously—to say nothing of museum-quality exhibitions of de Kooning and David Smith.

From left, NADA members Sara Vanderbeek of Guild & Greyshkul, John Connelly of John Connelly Presents, Andrea Smith of ZieherSmith, Heather Hubbs, Christian Viveros-Faune of Roebling Hall, Sheri Pasquarella of SLP Art Culture Commerce, Zach Feuer of Zach Feuer Gallery, Zach Miner of Christie's, and Becky Smith of Bellwether Gallery.Photo: Roger Deckker

New Art Dealers Alliance
In the past few years, collectors have made a sport of sneaking in early to art fairs, where the real dealing gets done. Since 2003, the nada fair has been among the most tempting targets, with a mix of cutting-edge alternative galleries (White Columns and Participant Inc.) and for-profit dealers (Roebling Hall and Zach Feuer, who claimed after the last fair that he makes as much there as he does all year in Chelsea). The first year, many dealers sold out their booths within hours, and in 2005 nada fielded about 350 applications for 80 slots—a far more exclusive ratio than Art Basel Miami Beach.

David Rockefeller
Chairman emeritus, the Museum of Modern Art
MoMA wouldn’t be MoMA without him. Upping the ante for his fellow trustees, the 90-year-old son of museum co-founder Abby Aldrich Rockefeller (he calls it “Mother’s Museum”) just gave MoMA its largest cash gift ever—$100 million. That figure, more than a fifth of the current endowment, doubles when other gifts over his lifetime are factored in, and that’s not including the Cézannes and Picassos he regularly donates or his substantial giving elsewhere. The museum won’t receive the full hundred mil until Rockefeller’s death, but it’ll see impact soon since he’s going to hand it over at the rate of $5 million a year.

Philippe de Montebello
Director, the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Patrician, imperial, impeccably social on the fund-raising circuit: As the Whitney puzzles over its identity and MoMA settles into its oversize new digs, the charming De Montebello has expanded the Met’s already huge reach. Is presiding over new construction yet again; has put on an unprecedented number of shows devoted to living artists (Robert Rauschenberg, Kara Walker, Cai-Guo Qiang). Acquisitions like the Duccio Madonna and the Gilman photography collection have filled important gaps in the holdings. Thrust into the spotlight during the looted-antiquities crisis, he proposed a shrewd compromise that set the standard for other museums.

Robert Storr
Incoming dean, Yale School of Art
Unmatched résumé: He’s held the top curatorial post at MoMA (the Gerhard Richter show was his), he’s directing the next Venice Bienniale, and as of this July he’ll be dean of the most respected East Coast art school. Vital link between the museum world and academia. Is also an artist who’s logged enough studio time to have a special regard for painters’ painters like Elizabeth Murray and Philip Guston—and a gifted writer who can make us appreciate them, too.

Jerry Saltz
Critic, The Village Voice
Most serious art writing reaches readers long after the art in question is off the walls, but Saltz is a rare critic with real-time impact. A 2006 Pulitzer finalist, Saltz was one of the first to enthuse over Elizabeth Peyton and Dana Schutz; his latest discovery is the performance artist Tamy Ben-Tor. From his perch at the troubled Voice, Saltz is far more than a booster; he is unafraid to burst bubbles, define broad trends, or take the art world to task when it’s called for.Next: The Most Influential in Architecture & Design

The Influentials: Art