Art Market Italy: Interview with Vincenzo de Bellis

Vincenzo de Bellis, artistic director MiArt 2013

Vincenzo de Bellis, artistic director MiArt 2013

Milan’s fair for modern and contemporary art, MiArt, has a new artistic director: Vincenzo de Bellis. Former director Frank Boehm, a Milan-based German architect and consultant for Deutsche Bank Collection Italy, was in charge for only one year.

Already in the past the fair has been looking for a winning formula and has often made changes to the artistic direction—even if this discontinuity cannot be good for the event. And this is not the only adjustment at the head of an Italian fair this year. In Bologna, Silvia Evangelisti, who has been directing the local art fair Arte Fiera for nine years, was replaced by Giorgio Verzotti and Claudio Spadoni. In Turin, Francesco Manacorda left the direction of Turin’s art fair Artissima to Sarah Cosulich Canarutto, as he was called to the direction of Tate Liverpool.

According to the organizers of MiArt, the decision to dismiss Boehm from his position did not depend on the quality of his work. “The reality of the art system, which is getting more and more complex, made it necessary to rethink the role of the director itself,” MiArt’s organization told Auction Central News. “We need no longer a single professional, but a personality who is able to create a team of experts from different sectors, and to speak both to the Italian and to the international community.”

Thus, next to Vincenzo de Bellis as the artistic director, there will be a team composed by Andrew Bonacina, curator at the International Project Space in Birmingham; Florence Derieux, director of Frac Champagne-Ardenne in Reims; Fionn Meade, independent curator in New York; Alessandro Rabottini, external curator at GAMeC in Bergamo; Andrea Viliani, core agent at dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel; and Donatella Volonté, responsible for the modern sector since the foundation of MiArt.

As far as the choice of Vincenzo de Bellis concerns, the organization says that de Bellis was invited to present a proposal, which was then accepted by the fair. “De Bellis represents an inherent figure in the art system: As co-director of the Milanese Peep-Hole art center, he is curator and entrepreneur; he is able to become a collector of different structures, and to underline the cultural function of the art fair, even without neglecting its undeniable commercial aspect.”

Auction Central News asked Vincenzo de Bellis to anticipate his plans for the next edition of MiArt, which will take place on April 5-7, 2013.

Q: You have stated that you want to start a process which brings MiArt to be active in the production of contemporary art during the whole year and not only during the three days of the fair. How do you want to realize this program?

A: The starting idea is to transform MiArt in a “sounding board” for events and projects which will be organized by the institutions in Milan and will happen during the same period as the fair. Later, we would like to start some programs and projects which will be produced and coordinated by MiArt in different times of the year, in accordance with institutions and galleries of the city.

Q: Which will be the role of the Italian and international experts who will join you? Have you chosen them?

A: Yes, they were all chosen by me. I strongly believe in team work and collaboration. Some of them are people I have collaborated with in the past, others are people I have known for a long time as professionals and now I have the occasion of working with them. Everyone of them was chosen for a specific reason and with the aim of working on a specific section of the next edition of MiArt.

Q: Can you anticipate something about the new sections of the fair?

A: For now I can tell you that the sections will be four. Two of them are the same as the last editions and two of them are new. Among these there is one that directly compares the modern and the contemporary segments, the two veins of MiArt.

Q: What do you think is liable for improvement compared to the 2012 edition and to the past editions of the fair?

A: The quality of the art on offer; the quality of the services offered both to the public, and to the exhibitors, and to the collectors. Another fundamental aspect is to generate the interest of the international art public, Milan is the heart of art in Italy and the city must aim in this direction.

Q: What are you going to do to involve international art dealers and collectors?

A: There will be a program specifically conceived for international collectors, with tours and visits to some pivotal places of the city (art institutions but also other places), and there will be also programs specifically conceived for international exhibitors, so that they come in contact with the public of Italian collectors, who are known internationally for being among the most active and attentive.

About Silvia Anna Barrilà:

Silvia Anna Barrilà is an Italian fine arts journalist and regular contributor to the Italian financial newspaper Il Sole 24 ORE (ArtEconomy24). She also writes about art, design, lifestyle and society for a number of Italian and international magazines, including DAMn Magazine and ICON (Mondadori). She is based in Milan and Berlin.


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Vincenzo de Bellis, artistic director MiArt 2013

Vincenzo de Bellis, artistic director MiArt 2013