We rank baseball players by their batting averages and Hollywood films by their box office receipts, but what about artists? Can we judge their performance by equally objective standards? According to Artfacts.net, a website that provides news about the international art scene, the answer is an emphatic yes. It has ranked over 80,000 artists according to “a special algorithm” that examines their international reputation. The list makes for fascinating reading, all the way from Andy Warhol at the top to a certain Mr. Håvard Øyen, who has earned the boasting rights that come with being the 81,750th most celebrated artist in the world.
Mr. Øyen has nothing to be ashamed of. Weak as his showing may be, it is still far better than Leonardo da Vinci, Vermeer, and Rembrandt, none of whom make the list. In fact, the oldest artist in the top one hundred is Edgar Degas (52), who was born in 1834. Otherwise it is dominated by contemporary celebrities such as Bruce Nauman (3), Robert Rauschenberg (7), and Cindy Sherman (11). But this dominance is inevitable, given that the ranking is based on the overall exhibition activity of artists rather than, for example, the sales figures they command—a criterion that would favor the Old Masters.