Last Year: 8
If not (yet) the biggest gallery in the world, Hauser & Wirth has a strong claim to being the smartest and most idea-driven. Hopscotching across decades and stylistics – in September alone, Wirth’s various venues were showcasing Rita Ackermann, Thomas Houseago, Paul McCarthy and A Visual Essay on Gutai – the gallery’s programme is predominantly bound by a golden thread of taste and intelligence. Like any top-flight dealer, of course, the forty-two-year-old is relentlessly adding flanks and wings, and early next year Wirth will open a second New York venue for shows and ‘projects’, a 2,150sqm converted roller rink in Chelsea, in conjunction with the gallery’s 20th anniversary and in airy contrast to its current townhouse space. But it’s equally notable that the gallerist recently endowed a senior lecturer post at London’s Courtauld Institute of Art. As much as stellar projects like this year’s Historical Box show of little-seen Vietnam War-era American art, this privileging of historical knowledge shows that Wirth grasps the long game and – to a rare degree for a gallerist – sees that it’s much bigger than him.