The 20 Most Powerless People in the Art World: 2021 Edition


It’s been a rough time, but some people had it tougher than others.


Every year we initiate this list to highlight those who are rendered powerless in a plan impacted by the outsized influence of the super affluent , not to mention the business galleries and arrogance museums that responds to them. We call it the Powerless 20.

The souls, societies, and other items on this list represent strong ideas and daring fights for freedom and equality that one day will prevail over this unjust system. In keeping with our heritage, we admitted ourselves a hue of feeling, which we believe is integral to resilience.

And as we always say, here’s to hoping you’re not on it.

1. Osage Nation and Sale of Ancient Cave Art — In a society where everything is for sale for the highest bid, we got used to seeing prized cultural assets being moved carelessly to private hands. But a new fanny was reached when a historic Missouri cave containing Native American art from over 1,000 years ago was auctioned off to an unnamed purchaser for $2.2 million in September. What’s also unsettling is that the cave was sold by a three-generation family whose representatives originally bought the 43 -acre property from private ownership in 1953 and used it chiefly for hunting. In the words of the Osage Nation, which was outbid in the auctioneer, this sale was “truly heartbreaking.”

powerless 20Ancient Native American art inside Missouri’s Picture Cave( photo by Alan Cressler and courtesy of Selkirk Auctioneers& Appraisers)

2. Laid off proletarians from Artistries orgs — In news that surprised no one, the country’s largest cultural conservatories received over$ 1 billion combined in forgivable lends from the Paycheck Protection Program( PPP ), but were quick to lay off works at the earliest possible opportunity. A report by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Hire( AFSCME) pointed out that out of $1.6 billion given to about 7,500 cultural universities that qualified for PPP loans, almost half of the money ($ 771 million) went to see simply 228 recipients. These same 288 conservatories collectively laid off more than 14,400 employees, or at least 28% of their workforce. Most changed were low-paid staff working in frontline assistances, education, upkeep, and security who never got their jobs back.

3. Metaverse — It was cool, and had hope, until Mark Zuckerberg has now come ruined it for everyone.

4. Danish Siddiqui — Pulitzer Prize-winning Reuters photojournalist Danish Siddiqui was one of “the worlds leading” enunciates documenting the frontlines of a battle that stormed for two decades, the longest war in US history. Sadly, during the ill-planned US withdrawal from Afghanistan this past summer, he was caught in the middle of a clash between Afghan security forces and Taliban fighters near a border crossing with Pakistan and died doing his job. Siddiqui was part of the Reuters photography team that was awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography as a result of their work documenting the Rohingya refugee crisis in Myanmar. He leaves behind a rich archive of personas and his death is a reminder that writers and photographers of all stripes face serious challenges when doing their errand. He is not be forgotten.

5. Artsakh Heritage Sites — The 2020 Russian-brokered ceasefire that handed the region of Nagorno-Karabakh( Artsakh in Armenian) to Azerbaijan did nothing but encourage its regime to continue and expand its decades-long businesslike erasure of Armenian heritage locates. Over a dozen Armenian churches, cemeteries, sacred cross-stones( Khachkars ), and other cultural belongings have either been destroyed, detriment, or threatened by Azerbaijan since the armed conflict terminated, according to a report by the Caucasus Heritage Watch( CHW ). What’s more, Azerbaijan’s new shtick is to label Armenian heritage qualities as “Caucasian Albanian” or deny that they had ever existed as part of its attempts to rewrite the history of the region. With good-for-nothing more than puny affirmations, macrocosm governments and international forms are allowing this artistic genocide to continue uninterrupted. Early this month, the International Court of Justice expressed provisional measures in a case, seeking that Azerbaijan must “[ t] ake all necessary measures to prevent and punish acts of vandalism and blasphemy affecting Armenian cultural heritage, including but not limited to churches and other plazas of worship, headstones, landmarks, cemeteries and artefacts.” I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

artMark Allen Henderson, “Snake Bit, ” opiate prescription bottles, glass looks, sculpted rattlesnake foreman.( idol by and courtesy of Mark Allen Henderson)

6. The Sacklers’ Reputation — The Sacklers, the Oxycontin mogul family, had an unprecedentedly bad time. New Yorker staff writer Patrick Radden Keefe published Empire of Pain in April, an instant bestseller that has definitively made a hammer in the coffin for the family’s reputation and gift. Then, following months of discussions between the Sacklers and Met Museum managers and a cogent symbol signed off by over 70 craftsmen imploring the museum to do so, the Met wiped the Sackler name off seven of its halls. The bad and final blow was delivered by a district judge who ruled in mid-December that the $4.5 billion colonization to defend the Sacklers from obligation reached in September was invalid — opening the floodgates to suits( so far 860 have been registered ). Good.

7. Efforts to Democratize the Art World — Another year, and another attempt to scam, we necessitate promote, your behavior into the media and cornet your efforts to “democratize” the prowes parish. This time it was the NFT’ers, their PR machine, and the people who swallowed the lie hook, line, and sinker. The reality is nothing close to a “democratization, ” as a recent study substantiated; is not merely are 75% of NFTs selling for $15( simply 1% of NFTs sell for over $1,594 ), but a few collectors are amassing the majority of valuable NFTs and the whole NFT ecosystem has simply adapted to the establish commercial art world system to become largely indecipherable from it. Congrats to the borg of the artistry macrocosm, you did it! Assimilation complete.

8. Polish LGBT Claims Activists — Driven by hate, homophobia, and injustice, over 100 Polish local governments that said themselves as “free from LGBT ideology” in 2020 continue to harass and terrorize LGBTQ+ citizens and activists. In 2021, a few of them have also waged a law vendetta against four Polish artist-activists — Kuba Gawron, Kamil Maczuga, Paulina Pajak, and Pawel Preneta — who appointed the 2020 Atlas of Hate, an interactive map graphing the country’s anti-gay zones. The silly litigations, filed by six counties, blamed the artists with defamation and demanded that they publish apologetics to local officials on the project’s website and too speak them publicly in news conference on the steps of the European parliament elections in Brussels and at the Polish News organization. If convicted, the artists would stand obligated for at least 165,000 PLN (~$ 40,600 ), including expenses related to holding the requested apology safarus.

featuredAfghan street artist Shamsia Hassani painting a mural in Kabul in 2016( via Wikimedia Commons)

9. Afghan Artists at risk — After two decades of Us occupation, Afghan artists were left to the mercy of the regressive Taliban regime, with some facing immediate danger to their lives. Afghani groups in the diaspora and their friends have continuously pleaded with the US to open the international border to masters, musicians, columnists, filmmakers, photographers, visual writers, and other racial employees at risk. Sadly, hundreds were disavowed entry to the US, and many more are still left behind.

10. Freedom of lecture in Hong kong residents — It’s been a unspeakable year for the residents of Hong Kong, who are watching their long-cherished freedom of speech, press, and saying being stamped out by the Chinese central government. Not only has Hong Kong’s only memorial to the Tiananmen massacre been removed, but this week a major pro-democracy media source, Stand News, was shuttered after Chinese officials arrested six of their correspondents. This is very disturbing.

powerless 20Jan Gossaert,” Adam and Eve”( circa 1520)( via Wikimedia Commons)

11. Masterpieces That Were Turned into Porn — Imagine being depicted by the likes of Francois Boucher or Titian only to end up on Pornhub a couple of centuries later. That’s precisely what happened to Jan Gossaert’s “Adam and Eve”( the “O.G. amateur couple” ), Edgar Degas’s “Male Nude, ” and many other classic classics when the free porn provider recreated the subtly sexy situations in full-blown, X-rated reality feature actual beings actually doing it. It may have been a liberating minute for these paintings’ exponents, hitherto repressed by their oil and canvas chastity belts, but some of the museums that own the works didn’t find it extremely entertaining: the Uffizi Gallery in Italy objected to what the fuck is claimed was Pornhub’s unauthorized business give of their content, and even peril legal action.

12. Gaza Artists and Dar Jacir — Israel’s senseless pummeling of Gaza for 11 consecutive dates in May imposed more fatality and lose on an already circumvented society of neighbourhood craftsmen. The Israeli air raids likewise destroyed the city’s only art plies store, Pens& Pins, which have already been recovered. In the West Bank, Israeli forces attacked and ransacked an art center co-founded by artist Emily Jacir in the city of Bethlehem. But this year has also seen unprecedented exposes of support for Palestinian rights within the art community. Hundreds of craftsmen, pundits, and academics signed a character condemning the ties between some board members at New York’s Museum of Modern Art and Israel’s violent attacks against Palestinians. The note was released by the Strike MoMA group, who subsequently launched information campaigns” Globalize the Intifada.” Thousands of others signed a “Letter Against Apartheid” released after a group of Palestinian artists, and supporters of Jacir’s center elevated more than $30,000 for its recovery. The tide of public opinion has started to shift, but the balance of power on the floor still hasn’t.

artPro-Palestinian opponents arriving at MoMA on Friday afternoon, September 17.( photo by Hakim Bishara)

13. Cuban Artists and Activists, Again — Different groups constitutes the schedule for the second time in a row as the Cuban government simply tightened its crackdown on imaginatives in 2021. Food and remedy deficits and good living conditions made worse by the pandemic led to the largest demonstrations on the island in roughly three decades, and many of those who participated were arbitrarily incarcerated and persecuted. Emblematic instances involve master and vocal dissenter Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara, who was jailed on his mode to the demonstrations and later transferred to the Guanajay maximum security prison, where he remains five months later; and Hamlet Lavastida, jailed in Havana for three months, who was forcibly exiled along with columnist Katherine Bisquet. As the Havana Biennial neared, creator Tania Bruguera called for a boycott , and countless curators, masters, and writers withdrew from the evidence. But several hundreds of amicable activists, among them youth under 18, still remain behind forbids and facing prison sentences simply for reviewing differently.

14. Osman Kavala — The travesty of artistries philanthropist Osman Kavala’s internment continues, and even with threats of being ejected from the Council of Europe, Turkey is still not budging. Add to this the strange detention of university students in Istanbul for their LGBTQ+ posting, and you can see a trend that has been going on for years now and indicates the country is quickly slipping away from the liberal and democratic predict it once had and becoming increasingly authoritarian.

featuredThe NFT community has a bot problem. Left: a office by artist Jon Neimeister uploaded to DeviantArt in 2016; right: an NFT of the production recently minted without his allow on OpenSea.

15. Artists Whose Work Is Stolen on the Internet — Earlier this year, we reported on the rightfully ludicrous fib of an image taken by photographer Kyle Cassidy. He liberally secreted it into the public domain, accessible free of charge on Wikimedia Commons — exclusively to discover someone appointed “Aldwin Sturdivant” was claiming it as his own and using it in a wacky affiliate connections scam. Cassidy is just one of many craftsmen whose cultivate has been grabbed by scammers, bots, and other fraudulent actors as prowes stealing moves online. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the issue is plaguing the non-fungible token( NFT) opening: useds on the favourite artwork community DeviantArt say their works are being stolen and minted as NFTs on marketplaces such as OpenSea. As the technology increases steam, customers are increasingly well understood these so-called ” copy-mints” but the sheer loudnes of violations has raised concerns about safeguarding faithfulnes and provenance, publishes the blockchain was supposed to fix. Turns out it’s a lot like the traditional prowes grocery, thieves and all.

powerless 20One of many memes of the late artist Bob Ross.

16. Bob Ross’s Relatives — It is difficult to believe that anyone could do wrong to a human as unadulterated and philanthropic as Bob Ross, landscape painting extraordinaire, de facto TV therapist, and #HairGoals icon. Yet that is precisely what the Netflix film Bob Ross: Happy Coincidence, Betrayal, and Greed( 2021) disclosed: after the artist’s death, his longtime business partners Walt and Annette Kowalski reportedly used intimidation and vigorous law maneuvering to impound the rights to Ross’s name and likeness from Steve Ross, his son and heir. The film’s revealings motivated calls for a boycott of sell engraved with Ross’s ultra-recognizable face, all licensed through Bob Ross, Inc.( BRI ), which the Kowalskis own and control while Steve Ross watches not a penny of his late father’s rewarding gift. “Happy little trees”? More like ruthless little capitalists.

17. Beloved Artworks Being Sold By Museums — It’s becoming a scary trend at major public US museums, namely the selling of what prowes devotees often announce “masterpieces” that are favorite artworks tourists desire receiving again and again. This year’s decision by the Newark Museum to sell Thomas Cole’s “The Arch of Nero”( 1846 ), a stunning depicting by one of the greatest American creators of the 19 th century, was the latest to be sold, though the Brooklyn Museum had its own foolish firesale last year and sold wonderful works by Lucas Cranach the Elder( which was bequeathed to its accumulation in 1921 ), Gustave Courbet, Claude Monet, Camille Corot, and others. They likewise sold a large Francis Bacon back in 2019. Even the Met Museum, which has only one endowment of $3.3 billion, sold off some duties. While art historians, reviewers, and artwork devotees may condemn these sales, which look like only another way for the super rich and their courtiers to financialize museums and their assets, the real loss is for the public, who are not given a voice in deciding if a beloved Monet will be sold off to some superwealthy collector who can hide it away from public sentiment.

18. Blue Pigments — Supply chain problems and personnel shortfalls caused by the COVID-1 9 pandemic, coupled with climate tragedies worldwide, have brought severe shortages in artist paint. Notably, favourite paints like Indanthrone Blue and Ultramarine Blue have become specially harder and more expensive to find. Cloth essential to conclude these stains and others are in low-toned furnish, partially because of climate events like the freeze in Texas, which slow-witted the production of petroleum, and the wildfires in Canada, which ravaged linseed pastures. The spike in paint costs is expected to continue into 2022. Doesn’t it stir “youre feeling” blue?

artAn image of Judy Chicago’s” Forever de Young” recital seconds before the plume tumbled( photo by Larissa Archer)

19. Supporter of Judy Chicago — The American master Judy Chicago is not exactly powerless — she’s to be submitted by a well-known New York gallery, for instance, and her 1979 facility” The Dinner Party” is a textbook piece of feminist artwork. But it certainly hasn’t been a good time for her devotees: one of Chicago’s smoke-based cases in San Francisco turned into” an evil smelling, enveloping orange-green tarnish shadow ,” stimulating times of panic among some audience representatives; and a fish habitats in Palm Desert withdrew its participation from a similar smoking drudgery over environmental concerns.( A local columnist said the huge colored plumes could have” a frightening and erratic influence” on the sheep lambing on the common; Chicago’s publicist cautioned the master to delete some of these critical comments from her Instagram post, which as we know is never a good appear .) As second-wave feminism fades into obsolescence, it seeems, so do Chicago’s so-called ” breath statues .” Smoke inhalation is so pre-pandemic.

20. New York Chinatown Community and Activist — For times, Chinatown-based grassroots radicals have fought against the rapid gentrification of their neighborhood, in which art galleries represent a curse character. For the past year, inhabitants have directed their ire at the Museum of Chinese in America’s( MOCA) for accepting a $35 million franchise from the city as part of a incarcerate expansion propose that they are able to rehaul and expand the existence of the 15 -story detention complex in the neighborhood. The polemic between MOCA and the objectors has risen to calls to boycott the museum and remove its president, Nancy Yao Maasbach, from her profession. The artist duo Colin Chin and Nicholas Liem and the collective Godzilla withdrew their works from exhibits at the museum in solidarity with the opponents, who are mostly students and working-class citizens. Local radicals have also been mobilizing against MOCA’s co-chair and real-estate developer Johnathan Chu, who is accused of evicting the decades-old restaurant Jing Fong at the high levels of the pandemic. Countless bawl this a class war between the neighborhood’s poor and stripped, and its affluent, stoical elites.

Honorable Mentions

People Who Didn’t Randomly Find Art When They Renovate — I mean, doesn’t everyone find a Haring mural or Tudor painting behind a wall when they renovate? Well, it materializes some of us don’t, and that only proves how powerless we truly are.

Film Heritage — Two major fires( one in Cape Town and the other in Sao Paulo) at movie repositories prove how fragile the artifacts of film history actually are. Both volleys too demonstrate how world-wide difference reaches cultural heritage in less wealthy countries more susceptible to cataclysms such as these. What was lost this year can never be regained.

The Environment, As Crypto Picks Up — If 2021 was its first year of the NFT, then it was also the year of questioning the embarrassing carbon footprint of the entire crypto infinite. As if the traditional prowes life didn’t previously do its part to contribute to climate change, with its unnecessarily proliferating skill galas and jet-setting collectors, countless NFTs are being minted on the Ethereum blockchain, known for using vast networks of processing machines that eject CO2. Alternatives and methods to mitigate the impact are in the works, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t include our already beleaguered planet on this list.

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