Home Arts Art Basel is preparing for the first fair with a new team, while Volta Basel is looking for a new director

Art Basel is preparing for the first fair with a new team, while Volta Basel is looking for a new director

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Art Basel’s flagship fair returns for its 53rd edition not only amid an ever-changing global fair landscape, but also major leadership shifts at home. It will be the first Basel event since Marc Spiegler, the former global brand director of Art Basel, who also ran the eponymous Swiss fair, stepped down in November 2022. Last month it was announced that Maike Cruse, who ran Gallery Weekend Berlin from 2014 to 2023, will take over the management of the Basel fair in July, immediately after this month’s edition.

Noah Horowitz took over the management of Art Basel in November 2022 Photo: Noé Cotter: Courtesy of Art Basel

But the recent restructuring now means that Cruse will no longer be at the helm of the fair company, as its predecessor did. Instead, she will report to Vincenzo de Bellis, the director of fairs and exhibition platforms, who was appointed to the newly created position in July 2022. This will be De Bellis’ first exhibition in Basel, although he has now run an edition of each of Art Basel’s salons. Events in Miami Beach, Hong Kong and Paris. He in turn reports to Noah Horowitz, who took the reins as Art Basel’s chief executive – another newly created role – in November 2022 following Spiegler’s departure.

Although the new three-tier leadership structure may seem more complex, Horowitz insists it “is more streamlined”. He explains: “In the previous structure, everything had to go through the global director; now Vincenzo is truly empowered to guide the shows in conjunction with the individual salon chef. Because Vincenzo orchestrates all four fairs, he does not have separate responsibility for running the Basel fair. This is “essential”, continues Horowitz, because “the business and brand of Art Basel now demands more than the old structure allowed”, with “different audiences compared to even five years ago”. .

De Bellis adds: “Art Basel currently organizes four fairs on three continents, in addition to other initiatives. This structure allows us to offer the highest quality show in each city as well as to support the regional specificity of each show. A greater push for regional specificity is echoed by Horowitz, who hopes that each of the four fairs will become “differentiated enough” to take on unique identities and structures, under the leadership of De Bellis and the respective director.

A warmer Basel?

For this month’s fair, 284 galleries will participate, including newcomers Empty Gallery from Hong Kong and Soft Opening from London. This year, says Horowitz, Art Basel has sought to work with the Swiss canton of Basel to make the city “a friendlier place”, extending the opening hours of restaurants and bars and issuing a charter against excessive prices which was signed by 150 of the hotels in the city. Room rates are notoriously high during fair week and often discourage attendance.

As for broader in-store changes for Art Basel, Horowitz remains tight-lipped. Asked if a year-round Art Basel sales platform – for which job descriptions appeared online last year – is in the works, he says: “It’s all on the table”. Art Basel is also still “in the market” for a director for its Miami Beach fair in December, he said, adding that his goal is to have someone for this year’s edition.

Meanwhile, another fair in the city is also seeing its management structure change: Volta Basel has been without a director since the departure of Kamiar Maleki in March as head of Photo London. He said The arts journal when Volta Basel was racing for “at least two other editions”.

In his absence, this edition of Volta Basel will be led by Will Ramsay, the owner of Ramsay Fairs, which acquired Volta in 2019, and Cristina Salmastrelli, Volta’s US regional manager who leads the New York edition of the fair. Volta Basel will announce its new artistic director in September 2023, Ramsay said in a statement shared with The arts journal. “In the meantime, we look forward to making 2023 Volta’s most dynamic chapter yet,” he added.

For this edition, the fair is moving to a new warehouse in the “regenerated district of Klybeck”, with an outdoor garden that will host a sculpture park. For the first time in its 18-year history, the fair issued invitations to exhibit, rather than asking galleries to apply; more than 30 galleries, such as African Arty from Casablanca, Morocco, and Lee & Bae from Busan, South Korea, will be present.

Art BaselMass Basel, June 15-18

Volta BaselKlybeck 610, June 12-18

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