We all know artists shape history just as decisively as world leaders, or business magnates, yet its nice to be reminded why we should rank the best of them alongside the Pope and the er, President.
Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2017 has just been published and, alongside Donald Trump, Jeff Bezos and Theresa May are two Phaidon artists who have changed plenty of outlooks in our time.
The painter Kerry James Marshall makes the list, thanks to the way he has represented black poeple in fine art.
“For too long, the contributions of black people in American society have been ignored, marginalized and denied,” writes Grant Hill, a seven-time NBA All-Star, and a leading collector of African-American art. “Kerry James Marshall confirms and confronts those depictions and omissions with artistic flair, portraying everyday events in black lives. As the rest of the world learned through the stunning retrospective exhibition “Mastry,” Kerry’s narrative paintings are direct, bold and in-your-face views of moments in our lives, and they cannot be ignored.”
Cindy Sherman also made the 2017 cut, though she is represented in the ‘icon’ section of the list rather than the 'artist' section. Nevertheless, like Marshall, it’s Sherman's ability to influence social tropes that truly sets her apart. “The victim, the psycho bitch, the good wife,” writes fellow artist and Phaidon contributor Miranda July. “Lady readers will know what I mean when I say we are supposed to embody these roles, but unknowingly, so as not to ruin the mood. It's this mood that Cindy Sherman's role-playing self-portraits have disrupted and repurposed over the past 40 years. Her photographs always beguile at first - she's so pretty! So sad! So crazy! - but in the next moment we remember, 'She' took this picture. She knows.”
You can see the full list here. For more on Cindy Sherman’s life and work order this Phaidon Focus book; for more on Kerry James Marshall get this excellent new title; and to read a bit more of Miranda July’s writing get Akademie X.