Best Artist to Remind New Yorkers There Is a World Beyond New York (2013)

Ai Weiwei

Can anyone imagine Jeff Koons or Richard Prince penning an editorial for a major outlet about NSA surveillance? That's just what dissident artist, architect, and all-around human rights gadfly Ai Weiwei did recently for London's Guardian newspaper, burnishing his already sterling credentials as a first-rate global intellectual. The oddsmakers' favorite for the first visual artist to win a Nobel Peace Prize, this creator of conscience makes—through timely and affecting art and activism—New York's money-centric scene look phony, delusive, and out of touch.