The Power Trip is Australia’s most trusted list of the Australian art world’s powerful and influential people. Now in its sixth year, the list began back when there was a Federal Labor government, Barack Obama was US President and there was general sense of calm in the world. Now we’re living in an age that we predicted with eerie accuracy.
There are four kinds of power: there’s money and influence of the kind held by philanthropists, super collectors and major gallery directors; then there’s the administrative power of curators, bureaucrats and lower echelon collectors and gallery people; and then there’s the illusion of power conjured out of nothing by people with a public profile, an axe to grind and soapbox to yell it to the world. And let’s not forget the artists, whose magical combination of talent, visibility and opportunity push them up above the fray…
Which brings us to our annual caveat – as much as we’d like to fill our list with sunshine, puppies and flowers, this isn’t the list we want, it’s the list we deserve. And with awesome power comes awesome responsibility. How do we draw up the list? It’s simple really. We begin by writing a long list of names on a piece of paper. We then roll up the paper, light it, and smoke it. After a short while, names become visible in the air, from which some names rise, and others fall. After we have selected 100 candidates, we have our final elephant. Sorry, we have our final list.
Undoubtedly, you’ll look down the list and wonder, for example, how can artist, a curator, a philanthropist and a blogger end up adjacent to each other: surely a millionaire with a huge media profile has way more power than an artist with a successful show? True. The way to read this list is by comparing the relative positions of people with similar roles – artists with artists, curators with curators etc. Except when we climb high into the top 25 and then it’s game on elephants.
As someone once said, “one day you’re in, the next day you’re out!” With 100 names there’s a lot of volatility on the list since 2016 so we say a sad farewell to Gerard Vaughn, Tamara Winikoff, Eleonora Triguboff, Sasha Griffin, James Valentine, Mandy Chang and Nicholas Forrest, among a many others. We say farewell, but hope you’ll all be back soon.
One last thing: we always love to get reader feedback so please leave comments below in the space provided. Tell us what you think!
100. John Kelly
John Kelly is on a one-man mission to make sure artists like John Kelly get to represent Australia at Venice…
99. The MEMO Review Team
Pumping out weekly Melbourne reviews.
98. Sian McIntyre
Under McIntyre’s direction, artists who exhibit at Verge Gallery get paid. Yeah.
97. McLean Edwards
The kid’s on a tear – new gallery, sell out New York show, brand new work back home, ever-growing Instagram stardom.
96. The Cementa Team
Cementa friendship! If you haven’t been to Kandos yet, block the Cementa19 dates now.
95. Bec Dean
One woman dynamo on a half a dozen boards, dab hand curator, and a raucous media pundit.
94. Brett Adlington
Not even the second-worst flood on record could prevent the opening of the new Lismore Regional Gallery.
93. Bree Pickering
If you want to get anywhere, you have to drive through Albury…
92. Nat Randall
Although she and Abdul Abdullah have waved goodbye to FBI’s Radio’s top rated art show CANVAS, Randall’s The Second Woman was the 5 star show-stopping performance of 2017.
91. Nicole Durling
Curating at Tassie’s ‘Museum of Everything’ is not a job for the faint hearted.
90. Teresa and Andrew Biet
Incubating emerging artists.
89. Roslyn Helper
Everyone’s still talking about Underbelly’s 2017 rendition.
88. Mikala Dwyer
Maker of one the AGNSW’s most warmly reviewed exhibitions.
87. Daniel Mudie Cunningham
Cunningham ankles Artbank shock! He’s moved on a firetruck to a bright new future at Carriageworks, with rumours of big things nationally…
86. Chris Fox
Fox’s Interloop sculptural installation at Sydney’s Wynyard Station hit the sweet spot of conceptual rigour and made-for-social-media click bait.
85. Susi Muddiman
Not many artists can resist the hospitality or the to-die-for view at Tweed Regional Gallery residence.
84. Amanda Love
Uber-connected art dealer.
83. Natty Solo
Still dancing at the edge of the art world, and one day she’ll master hyperlinks…
82. Reuben Keehan
QAGOMA’s curator of Contemporary Asian Art has just produced a winning Yayoi Kusama exhibition and will tackle the 9th Asia Pacific Triennial later in 2018.
81. Sen. Mitch Fifield
Mitch grew a beard this year.
80. Maree Di Pasquale
We’re all waiting to see whether the new Director and CEO of the 2018 Melbourne Art Fair can perform miracles.
79. Emily Cormack
Has progressed from curator of Primavera to the 2018 TarraWarra Biennial.
78. Not Fair
Sam Leach, Tony Lloyd and Ashley Crawford’s baby got bigger and better this year
77. Karla Dickens
Artist on the rise.
76. Isobel Parker Philip
The photography curator smashing it at the AGNSW with this year’s masterful Mapplethorpe show.
75. Sebastian Smee
Everyone’s favourite nice guy is currently also the everywhere art critic.
74. Esther Anatolitis
The new boss at NAVA
73. Glenn Barkley
If you thought his power was on the wane, he’s now joined Sullivan and Strumpf. Say no more.
72. Barbara Flynn
Finding homes for largely unloved corporate-style sculptures. It’s a living.
71. Paul Becker
Originally launched in Sydney, Becker’s Art Money now partners with galleries worldwide from Barcelona to Brasilia.
70. Rosemary Hawker & Geraldine Barlow
Years of hard work and these two pulled off “unmissable” Gerhard Richter’s, The Life of Images at QAGOMA.
69. Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran
So much for the afterglow, last year’s hot new thing is already washed up. PSYCHE!
67. Callum Morton
The guy chosen to chair the new selection board for Venice. Good luck with that.
66. Art & Australia Editorial Board
Putting out the future one issue at a time.
About to debut major new work at ACMI.
64. Robert Cook
AGWAs always-inventive curator/writer.
63. Abdul Abdullah
The art world’s favourite slashie: artist/TV host/radio guy/doco subject/social media avenger.
62. Richard Perram
Bathurst Regional Gallery Director is going out with a bang and a lot of naked men.
61. Sebastian Goldspink
You can only be a creative producer if you have the hair to go with it.
60. Wendy Whiteley
Someone seriously suggested that Wendy is now more of an artist that Brett, what with her garden and all… and why not?
59. Gina Fairley
Probably the hardest working arts journalist in the country, excellent shoes.
58. Terry Wu
Board member extraordinaire [ACMI, Heide, NAVA], Terry has put his philanthropy to something more than collecting art – paying studio rent.
57. Natalie King
Venice is lovely at this time of year. It’s artichoke season.
56. John Olsen
How to be an art legend and piss people off in one easy step.
55. Alexi Glass-Kantor
Two hour speaking and walking tours? No problemo.
54. Tracy Cooper-Lavery
Guiding the $60m spend on the new Gold Coast Cultural Precinct.
53. The Curators Department
From Tamworth to New York, Glenn Barkley, Holly Williams and Ivan Muñiz Reed are the organisers behind the shows.
52. Michael Rolfe
“Out your left window you can now see… [insert name of regional Australian airport]”.
51. Erica Green
SAMSTAG and the 2018 Adelaide Biennial are still keeping her busy.
50. Tony Albert
Artist/TV host/fundraiser extraordinaire.
49. Tracey Moffatt
Reports of 6,000 visitors a day at Venice to see TM’s pics.
48. Ted Gott
NGV co-curator of the “the most successful ticketed exhibition in the NGV’s 156-year history” [Van Gogh and The Seasons].
47. Michael Reid
New gallery space, new artists, touring show of Australian photography in Europe: all is ja gut.
46. Robert Nelson
This year Bob says female painters are subtler.
45. Susan Borham
No one puts [her] baby in the corner.
More powerful than ever, kind of like The Hulk.
43. Tim Fairfax
Establishing a “new approach” to Australian art and culture and putting his money behind it.
42. Alison Kubler & Michael Zavros
Classy, sexy, stylish – just imagine it turned out they are vampires.
41. Philip Bacon
Still the Grand Master of BNE art – and a philanthropist to boot.
40. Dr. Gene Sherman
One day soon, fashion and architecture will be taken seriously.
39. Martin Browne
Still one of the smoothest salesmen in the business.
38. Victoria Lynn
Making the most of one of the best jobs in the country.
37. Judith White
This axe is very large and needs constant grinding.
36. Dick Quan
Still travelling around with Yayoi and spending up big on art world support.
35. Djon Mundine
Does Mundine ever sleep?
Smooth sailing at Artbank, one of Australia’s leading lending collections.
33. Karen Quinlan
Movie stars and undies of the rich and famous make for a winning combo.
32. Max Delany
Delany has unfinished business at ACCA.
31. Ursula Sullivan & Joanna Strumpf
The Wonder Women of Zetland.
30. Stephen Alderton
The National Art School’s ultra-connected new director who’ll Make NAS Great Again.
29. Isaac and Susan Wakil
Major supporters of Michael Brand’s Sydney Modern project.
28. Gareth Sansom
His NGV career survey was so strong it drew rave reviews around Australia, and as far away as Ireland…
27. Patricia Piccinini
The largest ever survey of Piccinini’s work opens in March at QAGOMA – meanwhile her show in Brasilia was the “most viewed contemporary exhibition of the year”.
26. Roslyn Oxley
And they sailed on into the night, laughing.
25. Sarah Cottier
One of Sydney Contemporary’s success stories.
24. The Balnaves Family
Following Mordant’s lead, Balnaves exited the Biennale, leaving only family support for the AGNSW, AGSA, MCA, McClelland, Mosman, Kaldor, etc, etc.
23. Naomi Milgrom
Now the Biennale job is over, she’s back at the helm of her Foundation.
22. Jan Minchin
Tolarno Galleries Director stalwart.
21. Nick Mitzevich
Moved, conquered and now has his sights set on even bigger things for Adelaide.
20. John McDonald
You’re only getting half the story if you don’t sign up for the esteemed critic’s weekly newsletter.
19. Chris Saines
QAGOMA’s Director oversaw a major revivification of the permanent Australian collection, while the new place still looks spiffy a decade on.
18. Anna Schwartz
Making talent look easy.
17. Simon Mordant
The victim of poor stakeholder management, Mordant took his ball and went home, yet still manages impressive generosity. Go figure.
16. Michael Brand
Suddenly the clouds parted and there was glorious sunlight – and a few hundred million dollars…
15. David Gonski
Gonski is bacski says the Sydney Morning Herald.
14. Richard Bell
The ratbag moral conscience of the Australian art world.
13. John Kaldor
The King is still doing his thing with Kaldor Projects – and doing it well.
12. Paul Keating
Sometimes covert power prevails.
11. Elizabeth Ann Macgregor
The MCA continues to pump out some great stuff – most notably Pipilotti Rist’s Sip My Ocean.
10. Ben Quilty
Fighting the good fight for real art and natural justice
9. Rupert Myer
OzCo chair overseeing the move to a new selection regime for the Venice Biennale
8. Tony Ellwood
Australia’s most popular, the NGV, finally cracked the list of the 20 “top museums on earth”.
7. Marc and Eva Besen
The owners of Tarrawarra are still giving back.
6. Barry Keldoulis
“Spends a lot of time going all over the world to different art fairs …and having holidays” – according to his boss.
5. Andrew Cameron
He and wife Cathy won the 2017 Philanthropy Leadership Award – Cameron also holds numerous Board spots from Belvoir and Sherman to Artspace and the AGNSW Foundation.
4. David Walsh
Going HOMO with a brand-new edifice – and giving chocolates to the poor.
3. Lisa Havilah
Just like her ship, Carriageworks Havilah steams steadily up the list.
2. Judith Neilson
Super patron and White Rabbit owner is now building another gallery.
1. Tim Etchells
Likes art that makes him smile.
Picture credit: Balthasar van der Ast, Basket of Fruits, c. 1625. Oil on wood, 14 x 20 cm. Staatliche Museen, Berlin