Since Art|Basel appointed Noah Horowitz as its new Director of the Americas last summer, the art fair maven has been commuting between New York and Miami in preparation for Art|Basel|Miami Beach. Horowitz shares with Flash Art a few insights on the upcoming edition of the most anticipated contemporary art fair in the United States.
The first time I met you was before you began working for the VIP Art Fair in 2010 — an online fair for which you invited the likes of Gagosian, Zwirner, Pace and White Cube. After that experience, what would you say are the advantages of an online art fair today? Are there any?
In the fair context, most collectors still want to see artworks first-hand with a physical encounter at a gallery booth. While the internet can’t replicate this experience, it can introduce new audiences to a gallery and help widen their network. It can also help a gallery build anticipation for its presence at an existing art fair, and encourage repeat visits after the fact to the gallery itself.
Are many art fair sales finalized by only looking at a picture?
Collectors come to art fairs to talk to the gallerists, make new relationships, learn new things, see new work and experience an overview of the current market. This is all part of the buying and selling process. Of course email is important for gallerists in engaging with collectors both before and after the fair, but most selling is done onsite.
Art|BaselMiami Beach has continued to grow in terms of sales, visitors and even the amount of media coverage. Were you prepared for this when you stepped into your new role?
Art|Basel in Miami Beach is the premier art show in the Americas, so it was always going to be a bigger challenge than running the Armory. However, I’m very familiar with the fair, there is a great team in place, and I’ve enjoyed working with Marc [Spiegler] and the other directors on such a global enterprise.
One of your roles will be to select and possibly discover new galleries. What is your process for this?
My main role is delivering the best possible experience for gallerists and collectors, and providing them with the best platform in the Americas to see and buy art. Galleries have to apply to join the fair every year, and we have a rigorous selection process in place for selecting galleries and projects across all sectors of the show. In my travels, of course, I’m always attentive to who curators, artists and other gallerists are speaking about, and I make a concerted effort to visit exhibitions and meet gallerists that I don’t already know. In the end, it’s exciting when new galleries are accepted by the committee, as I want our visitors to have new and unexpected encounters.
Many Latin American galleries are now participating, meaning you will have to travel much more to Mexico, Columbia, Brazil. But will you also consider galleries from the Midwest or Texas? Will you amplify both aspects? In other words, will you slightly redirect Art|Basel|Miami Beach or will it keep its roots?
My new role covers all of the Americas working with galleries, artists, collectors and arts institutions across the two continents — from Canada to Argentina, and across the entirety of the United States. There are no plans to redirect the fair away from its roots, only to bring the fair in Miami Beach to ever-greater heights, and provide the very best platform for its galleries and artists.
Do you think the fair needs a “country focus” like the Armory?
I don’t think Art|Basel in Miami needs a country focus. We’re already present across three continents, and there’s an unparalleled international composition of galleries and programming as a result. In Miami, 50% of the galleries in the show are based in the Americas, which gives it a distinct feel, and our sectors also have their own unique characteristics.
What is the most repetitive aspect of an art fair?
The queue to get in on the first morning!
How has it been to spend more time in Florida?
Miami has a real buzz and its own unique cultural mix. Art|Basel has been a catalyst for cultural regeneration, and Miami now has major arts institutions and some fantastic private museums. I’m still based in NYC, but I travel extensively, and I’m looking forward to spending significant time in Florida this fall.
I read you have a real passion for music. You recommend Tame Impala in The Observer. Have you ever considered a music column?
I’ve loved music for as long as I can remember. No immediate plans for a music column, but maybe one day…
You are quite into psychedelic music from the ’60s and ’70s. Do you know the Vanilla Fudge?
I suppose I am. I know the Vanilla Fudge a little bit but not super well. Perhaps worth adding to my Miami Beach playlist for December.
by Gea Politi