In what the Financial Times, called “a major shakeup,” but actually looks to us more like an amicable, orderly leadership transfer, Matthew Slotover and Amanda Sharp, founders of the wildly successful Frieze Art Fair, are handing over day-to-day oversight of the fair to the current director of Frieze Masters in London, Victoria Siddall. She will take over Frieze London after next month’s edition and will be “fully operational” for Frieze London in October 2015, according to a release from Frieze. Slotover and Sharp will attend to “new projects,” though no further detail was provided on what those new projects might be.
Siddall has been with Frieze for 10 years, 7 of those as the original fair head of development before she assumed leadership of Frieze Masters, which launched in 2012 and features art ranging from antiquity to the end of the 20th century. Observers say that some were skeptical of Siddall’s appointment to Frieze Masters at its launch since she did not have much experience in the field at the time. However, Siddall quickly proved the naysayers wrong.
Under the new arrangement, Siddall will appoint two artistic directors—Joanna Stella-Sawicka has already been named to oversee Europe, the Middle East, Russia, and Africa, and a director for the Americas and Asia is being sought. According to a statement from Slotover and Sharp: “Victoria led the launch of Frieze Masters brilliantly and having worked with her for over 10 years, we know she understands the identity of each fair and can build all three of them to become ever better experiences for exhibitors and visitors alike.”
In her FT report, Georgina Adam runs down the history of the fair, starting with its launch in 2003 (Sharp and Slotover started publishing Frieze Magazine in 1991), after which it became “a rapid hit” and spawned an entirely new week of related auctions at Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips’ London salesrooms, as well as an expanding schedule of related events and satellite fairs. In 2012, the New York edition was launched, and now takes place each spring on Randall’s Island. It is also widely considered a resounding success and has made inroads against the long-dominant Armory Show, held on the far west side of Manhattan each March.
Slotover dismissed rumors that he and Sharp are planning a new fair or eyeing Asia as a possible place to expand. “We are not planning a new fair or a new publication,” he tells the FT. “It’s not the right place or time.”
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