The 50 Most Powerful Women in the New York Art World

  • Here at GalleristNY we initially resisted the idea of creating a Power List (anyone who reads The Observer will know that they are treasured here), until we realized we could use one to make a point.

    There has been a lot of press about women in the art world recently, but for some reason this talk has been for the most part limited to women who work in galleries. Vogue profiled Gagosian’s female employees (the “Gagosiennes), New York magazine’s fashion blog, The Cut, recently looked at the sartorial choices of gallery assistants and a piece in the The New Yorker questioned their very existence.

    And of course there is the upcoming Bravo reality series Paint The Town, which, according to advance promotion, will follow the trials, tribulations and, presumably, the night life of a bunch of young gallery assistants.

    What gets left out in the current discussion is the fact that women hold positions of real power in the art world. Many may have started out as the women who work the front desk, but now they are the ones who decide whether or not you get to buy that painting, or have that museum show. They raise money for museums, source pictures and write reviews. Attesting to the power of women in the art world, this was an excruciatingly difficult list to narrow down. Also, we would like to emphasize that the order is random: the list is not ranked.

    In The Observer‘s pages, we recently profiled Paula Cooper, one of New York’s legendary dealers. In the slideshow that follows, we give you the 50 most powerful women in New York’s modern and contemporary art world.


  1. Brendagoodman says:

    a very hearty congratulations to you. you deserve all the recognition that has come to you.

    1. varasart says:

      Mailyn Minter, not only a powerful artist but also an amazing professor at the School Of Visual Arts. Has a direct impact on shaping the artists of tomorrow. Nice to see even after all her acheivements in the art world, Marilyn Minter is still in love with teaching.

  2. Julie says:

    Only 3 actual artist there……

    1. guest says:

      WOAH. seriously.
      are the most important women, people, in the art world dealers? i guess they are if you think of art in terms of market success.

      and why is there so much focus on the looks and fashion choices of these women– rather than that of what they actually accomplished?

  3. KelleBelle says:

    For people involved in the art world and such big decision-makers on what looks good, there are some gawd-awful outfits on some of those women.

    1. Nomiwest says:

      why is the focus on how women look when they achieve so much. This is list makes wonderful reading – it is not a fashion spread.

      1. Diana B says:

        Hear hear!!! There are lists elsewhere of the 50 most well dressed women (although in whose eyes?) but it is a far more interesting list because it is about who they are and what they have achieved. Why do we insist that they should look differently than they do – because if they had spent their time and money on trying to confirm to the current image of beautiful people with beautiful clothes, they would have achieved nothing! And I am sure their families and friends love them as they are!

      2. Diana B says:

        And I should add that I happen to look pretty good most of the time but only because I was made that way and because I have a flair for putting the right outfit together ! But it is so disheartening when folk like me just because of how I look! As if the real me didn’t interest them! This is better now I am older, but I say “thank goodness”! When younger, this prevented me from actually ever achieving anything worthwhile in fact!

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  6. Dr JSB Naidu says:

    great information .. regarding the ART world ..

  7. Lori Arnold says:

    That’s a really unfortunate picture of her, though.

  8. one of a kind, Amy Phelan

  9. MeArtist says:

    Now how about the other sub-group – The 50 Most Powerful Men in the NY Art World?

    1. Meke says:

      Right… which you can actually just leave off the “men” from that title, since the most powerful, by default, have penises.

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  11. Carlos Lersundy says:
    La MaMa » Carlos Lersundy: Homecoming
    La MaMa Galleria is honored to open the 50th anniversary season with an exhibition of new paintings by Colombian artist Carlos Lersundy. He has been apart of the La MaMa family since the very beginning, creating art for Ellen Stewart and some of La MaMa’s first highly acclaimed shows.

  12. sssssss says:

    You’re using “chairman” to describe some of these women? How about chairperson, chairwoman–they sure don’t look like men to me, and last time I checked, “man” was not considered a generic term.

  13. maaaa says:


  14. I know most of these women and think it is a stellar list that proves the professionalism of working women in a vital cultural field that re-defines what America is becoming….finally ….. A force for unique arts and culture in the “New World” . We need them and they are doing it for all of us. The list can be longer , but 50 is a good round number proving there are so many superior working women with ideas and energy. Culture is what makes us civilized.


  15. Anonymous says:

    What about the 50 most powerful gay men in the New York art world? Or the 50 most powerful Jews? I’ve heard that if you look hard, you can find a gay man or a Jew somewhere in the art world. Don’t quote me on that though.

  16. Juko says:

    Wow! Only one woman of color.

  17. Aparks1 says:

    Perhaps the real discussion, underlying the success of women in art, is how far will the typically patriarchal definition of “What is art” continue to be defined by the “system.” It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to ask “What if Shakespeare had a sister”? How far would her work have gone? Not too long ago women who considered art were funneled into commercial art which, then, meant illustrations of refrigerators and car parts. Or they were siphoned into fashion. I studied art at the Corcoran Gallery in DC. I understand art, know the difference between Cereulean Blue and Vermillion and Burnt Umber, or a round point brush and a sharp. But also I now know what it means to be a woman “artist” in this world. The limitations are imposed upon one like a brick wall. They force women artists into the narrow dark peripheries of main stream.

  18. ten artists says:

    aids and abets criminals

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