Amsterdam’s De Appel Director Lorenzo Benedetti Abruptly Fired

Lorenzo BendettiPhoto: via PZC
Lorenzo Bendetti
Photo: via PZC

Lorenzo Benedetti, director and curator at Amsterdam’s De Appel, has been unexpectedly fired by the institution’s board after a short tenure of just over a year.

The Italian curator took up the helm at the arts center about 15 months ago, succeeding Ann Demeester. De Volkskrant reports that, back then, De Appel’s CEO Alexandra van Huffelen praised Benedetti as a “director who’s vital in defining the image of the institution and who will guarantee a dynamic and innovative program that will attract a broad audience.”

But van Huffelen’s support was short lived. “[Benedetti’s] exhibition program was good,” she told De Volkskrant. “But De Appel has missed a leader in other respects: someone who inspires internally and externally and conveys a vision of the future.”

Speaking to the press, she mentioned Paris’ Palais de Tokyo and London’s Serpentine Galleries as role models for the Dutch institution, which also runs a prestigious educational program, with courses aimed at the professional development of curators and gallerists.

De Appel Arts Center in Amsterdam.<br>Photo: via I am Amsterdam

De Appel Arts Center in Amsterdam.
Photo: via I am Amsterdam.

Benedetti’s dismissal has shocked the Dutch art community, which widely praised his program thus far, which featured successful exhibitions by artists like Melanie Gilligan, Michael Dean, and Michael E. Smith.

“Under Benedetti, the so troublesome exhibition building on the Prins Hendrikkade flourished in a short time into something of a genius loci, the building slowly gained an exhibition-soul and an exhibition-history,” editor in chief Domeniek Ruyters wrote in Metropolis M, when news of Benedetti’s sudden dismissal first came out. “It became a place where art lovers had to go.”

But, despite the art community’s disappointment, van Huffelen is adamant that Benedetti wasn’t the right fit.

“To outsiders it might seem like a fast action to put Benedetti out of commission right now, but behind the scenes there have been problems for the past six months,” she told De Volkskrant. “All this time we have intensively discussed them with Lorenzo and invested a lot of time to make progress, but without results.”

Installation shot from Michael Dean's exhibition at De Appel.<br>Photo: via De Appel

Installation shot from Michael Dean’s exhibition at De Appel.
Photo: via De Appel.

According to Ruyters, this is a case that symbolizes the shift in demands and expectations from curators. “Benedetti’s appointment at De Appel was a moment of hope for art lovers, hope that the artists’ curator still stood a chance in the marketing addicted exhibition company of the Netherlands. Not so.”

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