This year, Art Basel Miami Beach has a new director. Noah Horowitz has a PhD in Art History and for four years he served as director of the Armory Show in New York, a fair renowned for its diversity. His past experience with the Armory Show and a vast network give the 35 year old a great advantage as Director of the largest celebration of visual arts in the Americas.
With this appointment, Horowitz joins the Art Basel Executive Committee directed by Marc Spiegler, globally, together with Adeline Ooi, Director of Asia; Marco Fazzone, Director of Resources and Finance; and Patrick Foret, Director of Business Initiatives.
Among the tasks to perform, the new director of Art Basel Miami Beach will be in charge of strengthening the ties established with galleries, institutions, collectors and artists with regular participation, attracting new participants and introducing new developments and new members that will contribute to strengthen the fair’s leadership in the region.
Talking about the most recent challenge of his professional career, the young director said, “I will work with galleries and institutions from Canada to South America; Art Basel Miami Beach has a huge market to conquer and we must strengthen what has already been conquered.”
Horowitz is committed to expanding the scope of the Basel edition of Florida, both globally and locally. For him, the fair and the host city “are maturing together,” evidently referring to the interplay between the progress of the event and urban development.
However, there is a specific infrastructure problem that Horowitz will have to solve as soon as this year’s edition of the fair is over: a project to remodel the Miami Beach Convention Center, with costs estimated at $592 million dollars. This monumental work of reconstruction and renovation will cover 426.720 square meters of facilities, a new park, green areas and hundreds of parking spaces.
The first phase will begin shortly after the closing of this year’s fair. The renovation of the fifty-eight years old building and its surrounding areas—to make them compatible with the standards of the 21st century will not be completed until 2018, but the goal is to complete most of the work in time for the 2017Art Basel edition.
Meanwhile, Horowitz is talking with the directors of museums in Miami to find ways in which the fair could “contribute significantly” to the work of each cultural center in the city, in an effort to establish institutional relationships that could become a flourishing tradition for Miami.
An example is the collaboration with the Bass Museum of Art that will allow the large-scale sculptures created for the public section of the fair to remain in place until January. Horowitz will also take advantage of his expertise directing the experimental VIP Art Fair 2011 to help design a presence competitive of Art Basel in the digital network.
As already mentioned, the new director of Art Basel Miami comes from the Armory Show, a flagship fair in New York, recognized as one of the most important in the United States. From 2012 to July 2015, Horowitz’s management helped revitalize the performance of the New York fair.
For some observers, however, the dilemma now is whether Horowitz’s shift toward Basel Miami, could become a bad competitive strategy, since the weakening of the Armory Show contributes to strengthen the Frieze New York fair, which is rightly considered the main rival of Art Basel in the United States.
Marc Spiegler, global director of Art Basel, recognizes what Horowitz’s departure effectively means for the stability of Armory Show, however, he doesn’t see a negative impact in relation to the rivalry of its fairs with the Frieze events. In this regard he said: “When we make such fundamental contracts, our only aim is to find the best person for the management of Art Basel, without taking into account the implications for other fairs.”
In truth, if the appointment of Horowitz as the new leader has triggered this kind of speculation, the motives are more than evident: the panorama of the arts in South Florida is the clear winner because everything seems to indicate that the Sun City will continue to host the coolest fair in the American continent. ■