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1, 2, 3 – Who´s the Best?

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Rankings… at a first glance they seem to make our life easier, but!

The German manager magazine publishes its art ranking, the so-called Kunstkompass (art compass), annually. This ranking of the “100 most important artists” claims to “measure the reputation of contemporary artists”, based upon the notion that quality itself is not a measurable quantity. For each of these artists their number of exhibitions and awards as well as reviews and critiques are being analysed.

Let´s have a look at some of the recent rankings:

2012
1) Gerhard Richter, Painting, Germany
2) Bruce Naumann, Objects, Video, USA
3) Georg Baselitz, Painting, Germany
4) Rosemarie Trockel, Objects, Drawing, Germany
5) Louise Bourgeois, Sculpture, France/USA

2011
1) Gerhard Richter, Painting, Germany
2) Bruce Naumann, Objects, Video, USA
3) Georg Baselitz, Painting, Germany
4) Cindy Sherman, Photography, USA
5) Anselm Kiefer, Painting, Germany

2010
1) Gerhard Richter, Painting, Germany
2) Bruce Naumann, Objects, Video, USA
3) Sigmar Polke, Painting, Germany
4) Georg Baselitz, Painting, Germany
5) Louise Bourgeois, Sculpture, France/USA

This could be continued and continued – just because it is somehow incredible, let´s have a concluding look at the ranking from 2001(!):

2001
1) Sigmar Polke, Germany
2) Gerhard Richter, Germany
3) Bruce Naumann, USA
4) Rosemarie Trockel, Germany
5) Ilja Karbakov, Russia

Hmmm…. this ranking is published since 1970 and nothing much seems to have changed within this list – this raises a lot of questions:
° Is it just a coincidence that continually 3 out of the 5 most important artists ranked by a German magazine are from Germany?
° What kind perception do they have of the notion „international”?
° Is there an art world outside the Western hemisphere?
° Where are the women artists?
° What about all the shifts in the wake of globalisation within the art world, the art market, and their structures?

Not only the art world has become a multi-polar one – so art works and on-going discourses reflecting the changes and fractions of the contemporary world are definitely not mirrored within such an old-fashioned ranking.

To get a fairly realistic picture, one has to compare different international sources. On an economic basis, the relevance of Chinese artists – such as Zhang Daqian and Qi Baishi, but also of contemporary ones such as Miao Xiaochun and Wang Qingsong – can be checked e.g. at artprice. Also international acting auction houses provide reliable data.

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