Nikola Dietrich Tapped as New Director of Liste Art Fair

The German art historian returns to Basel, where she was a head curator at the Kunstmuseum until 2014.

Nikola Dietrich. Photo: Mareike Tocha, courtesy of Stiftung Liste Basel.

As the art market’s biggest players congregate in Basel this week, one of the Swiss city’s most prominent art fairs has just announced a new artistic director. Nikola Dietrich will helm Liste Art Fair Basel, taking over from Joanna Kamm, who stepped down after five years in February. Dietrich begins her new role on September 1.

The fair’s founding director, Peter Bläuer, is currently serving as interim director for this year’s 29th edition of the fair, which opened to VIPs today. In a statement, he praised Dietrich’s “independent, strong personality” that is “unafraid to take action, even when it is unpopular but necessary.”

Born in 1972 and hailing from Germany, Dietrich trained as an art historian and is currently curator of “KölnSkulptur #11” at Skulpturenpark Köln in Cologne, an exhibition that opens on June 23. Also in Cologne, between 2018 and 2023, Dietrich was head of contemporary art at the museum Kölnischer Kunstverein.

Her move to Basel later this year is also a return of sorts, as Dietrich was previously served as the head of contemporary art at Kunstmuseum Basel between 2008 and 2014. From 2004 to 2007, she was a curator at Portikus contemporary art museum in Frankfurt .

In its news announcement, Liste said Dietrich has been unanimously recommended by its search committee. It emphasized her international network of contacts as well as her “empathetic personality,” as reasons that she stood out among 50 international candidates for the role.

“She understands the needs of young galleries, artists, and collectors from her own experience,” said Urs Gloor, president of Stiftung Liste Basel, about Nikola Dietrich. “As long as they are satisfied with what Liste has to offer, the fair will remain successful. The management of Liste must continue to identify new trends in art early on to stay attractive.”

Kamm retired from her position earlier this year following a long illness, according to a report in the local paper Handelszeitung.

Bläuer founded Liste in 1996 as a platform for younger galleries and emerging talent that runs during the same week as the annual Art Basel fair. This year, Liste returns to its home in Hall 1.1 at Messe Basel from today until June 16, boasting 91 galleries from 35 countries.

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