Kunstkompass 2021: the ranking of artists is not decided only by the market

Annually, since 1970, the Kunstkompass refreshes our memory and defines which artists are the most commercially and culturally recognized.


The ranking is in fact based on a sum of scores linked to the prestige of the institutions in which the personal exhibitions dedicated to them take place, the presence in collective exhibitions, the participation of the works in international exhibition events (such as the Biennials), the participation to permanent collections, to writings or reviews in dedicated journals.
These more strictly artistic-cultural judgment criteria, considerations related to the market quotations of the works and to auction sales are added.



Rosemarie Trockel, Cluster III – Death, so adjustable – Courtesy Moderna Museet



Gerhard Richter has been in first place for years, and the results obtained at the last Contemporary Art Evening Auction at Sotheby’s on October 14th are nothing short of confirmation: the three top lots dating back to 1985 have reached and more than exceeded the little humble estimated figures: 5,943,000 GBP for one Abstraktes Bild (Lot 18) and 7,896,300 GBP for the other (Lot 17), 9,619,800 GBP for SD


Bruce Nauman is second to him, who opened the year with a solo show at the Tate Modern and closes it with Contrapposto at Punta della Dogana in Venice, in the company of third-placed Georg Baselitz, at Palazzo Grimani and at the Vedova Foundation.


Once off the podium, we find the first two female artists of the ranking: the German Rosemarie Trockel and Cindy Sherman, who in these days is in the company of other colleagues at the Matalon Foundation in Milan for the exhibition “Women and photography”.



Anselm Kiefer, Sette Palazzi Celesti – Courtesy Pirelli Hangar Bicocca



Olafur Eliasson wins sixth place, after having manifested himself with the flooding of the Beyeler Foundation and with its retrospective at the Guggenheim in Bilbao.


Followed by sculptor Tony Cragg, Anselm Kiefer and William Kentridge, who set his personal best this year for a drawing at Bonhams’ March 24 auction with Large Typerwriters, his second most expensive work to date, as well as starring. of the celebration of its forty years of activity at MUDAM Luxembourg.


Closes the top ten Imi Knoebel, but the parallel rankings “Stars of Tomorrow”, dominated by Yayoi Kusama, Alicja Kwade and Anne Imhof (formerly Leone d’Oro at the 2017 Venice Biennale), and “Olympus of ART ”, Dedicated to artists no longer living and headed by Joseph Beuys who sees the overcoming of Andy Warhol and Sigmar Polke.



Alicja Kwade, Solid Sky (550 Madison Avenue) – Courtesy The Art Newspaper