The Uneven Distribution of International Success in the Visual Artists Among Nations, According to the Rankings of the ‘Top 100 Artists in the World’

  • Alain Quemin
Part of the Sociology of the Arts book series (SOA)


What part do various countries play in the contemporary visual arts world today, and how can the rankings of the most visible or recognized artists be used to illustrate this? After presenting the genesis of rankings in the visual arts, Quemin introduces the two main rankings of international contemporary artists, that is, the Kunstkompass and Capital Kunstmarkt-Kompass. He analyzes and explains how they are built, their biases, and how their measures are similar or different. He then shows how these rankings can help to reveal a very uneven distribution of artistic success among different countries in the world and the pivotal role the USA plays in this.


Reputation Fame Rankings Artists Globalization Internationalization 


Research Material

  1. Rohr-Bongard, L., ed. 2001. Kunst = Kapital. Der Capital Kunstkompass von 1970 bis heute. Köln: Salon Verlag.Google Scholar
  2. The figures analyzed in this contribution come from the various editions of the Kunstkompass or from the competing ranking published by Artfacts. Although the main methods used here are quantitative, the research was also based on a hundred or so interviews, some of which were proper in-depth ones and others were much more informal, especially as we were doing fieldwork as an art journalist and art critic.Google Scholar

Research Literature

  1. Bartelson, J. 2000. Three Concepts of Globalization. International Sociology 15 (2): 180–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Becker, H.S. 1982. Art Worlds. Berkeley/Los Angeles: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bellavance, G., ed. 2000. Monde et réseaux de l’art: diffusion, migration et cosmopolitisme en art contemporain. Montreal: Liber.Google Scholar
  4. Bourdieu, P. 1993. Sociology in Question. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  5. Bourdieu, Pierre, and Alain Darbel. 1991 (1969). The Love of Art. European Art Museums and Their Public. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  6. Bowness, A. 1989. The Conditions of Success. How the Modern Artist Rises to Fame. London: Thames & Hudson.Google Scholar
  7. de Piles, R. 1969. Cours de Peinture par Principes. Genève: Slatkine Reprints. (Original edition: Cours de Peinture par Principes compos» par Mr. de Piles. Paris 1708. Jacques Estienne. (Amsterdam/Leipzig: Arkstée & Merkus 1766)).Google Scholar
  8. Florida, R. 2002. The Rise of the Creative Class. And How It Is Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  9. Halle, D., and E. Tiso. 2014. New York’s New Edge: Contemporary Art, the High Line and Megaprojects on the Far West Side. Chicago: Chicago University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Heinich, N. 1998. Le Triple jeu de l’art contemporain. Paris: Minuit.Google Scholar
  11. Merton, R. 1968. The Matthew Effect. Science 159 (3810): 56–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Moulin, Raymonde. 1967. Le marché de la peinture en France. Paris: Editions de Minuit.Google Scholar
  13. ———. 1992. L’artiste, l’institution et le march. Paris: Flammarion.Google Scholar
  14. Moulin, R., and A. Quemin. 1993. La certification de la valeur de l’art. In Experts et expertises. Annales ESC, Special Issue Mondes de l’art, no. 6, 1421–1445. novembre–décembre.Google Scholar
  15. Quemin, A. 2001. Le rôle des pays prescripteurs sur le marché et dans le monde de l’art contemporain. Paris: Ministère des Affaires Etrangères.Google Scholar
  16. ———. 2002a. In L’art contemporain international. Entre les institutions et le march, ed. Jacqueline Chambon. Nîmes/Saint-Romain-au-Mont-d’Or: Artprice.Google Scholar
  17. ———. 2002b. L’illusion de l’abolition des frontiÀres dans le monde de l’art contemporain international. La place des pays ‘périphériques’ á l’ère de la globalisation et du métissage. Sociologie et Sociétés XXXIV (2): 15–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. ———. 2006. Globalization and Mixing in the Visual Arts. An Empirical Survey of ‘High Culture’ and Globalization. International Sociology 21 (4): 522–550.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. ———. 2013a. International Contemporary Art Fairs in a ‘Globalized’ Art Market. European Societies 15 (2): 162–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. ———. 2013b. Les stars de l’art contemporain. Notoriété et consécration artistiques dans les arts visuels. Paris: Editions du CNRS.Google Scholar
  21. ———. 2014. International Fame, Success and Consecration in the Visual Arts. A Sociological Perspective on Two Rankings of the ‘Top 100 Artists in the World’: The ‘Kunstkompass’ and the ‘Capital Kunstmarkt Kompass’, Kunst und Öffentlichkeit, Reihe “Kunst und Gesellschaft”, ed. D. Danko, O. Moeschler, and F. Schumacher, 345–364. Wiesbaden: Springer VS.Google Scholar
  22. Quemin, A., and F. van Hest. 2015. The Impact of Nationality and Territory on Fame and Success in the Visual Arts Sector: Artists, Experts and the Market. In Cosmopolitan Canvases: The Globalization of Markets for Contemporary Art, ed. O. Velthuis and S. Baia Curioni. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Sassen, S. 1991. The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Therborn, G. 2000. Globalizations. Dimensions, Historical Waves, Regional Effects, Normative Governance. International Sociology 15 (2): 151–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. van Hest, F. 2012. Territorial Factors in a Globalized Art World? The Visibility of Countries in International Contemporary Art Events. Rotterdam: ERMeCC.Google Scholar
  26. Vasari, G. 1896. The Lives of the Most Excellent Italian Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, from Cimabue to Our Times (Le Vite de’ pi˘ eccellenti pittori, scultori, e architettori da Cimabue insino a’ tempi nostri, Florence 1550, ed. Lorenzo Torrentino). New York: Scribner’s.Google Scholar
  27. Velthuis, O. 2013. Globalization of Markets for Contemporary Art. Why Local Ties Remain Dominant in Amsterdam and Berlin. European Societies 15 (2): 290–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Verger, A. 1987. L’art d’estimer l’art. Comment classer l’incomparable? Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales 66–67: 105–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alain Quemin
    • 1
  1. 1.Université Paris 8Institut d’Etudes EuropéennesSaint-DenisFrance

Personalised recommendations