After months of speculation, and in a move that has surprised many in the art world, Benjamin Genocchio, the editor-in-chief of Artnet News, has been named the new executive director of the Armory Show in New York. “I’m not sure I saw it coming either,” Genocchio says. “I’ve been immersed in the world of digital publishing for the past two years.”
His main goal is “to create a niche, memorable and defined experience” to stand out from the 180 art fairs that take place across the world every year. “Most art fairs bore me,” he adds. Genocchio’s background is in journalism and art publishing. In 2010 he was appointed editor-in-chief of Art & Auction and Artinfo.com before launching Artnet News in 2014.
Genocchio won’t be able to stamp his ideas on the Armory until 2017, but one plan is to review the date. “If you change the fair to another time of year, then suddenly the outdoor space becomes available. In March that's not really possible,” he says. The Modern and contemporary art fair will run from 3 to 6 March in 2016. The fair’s location on Piers 92 and 94 on the West Side of Manhattan is unlikely to change, however.
Genocchio credits his predecessor Noah Horowitz, who is now the director of Americas for Art Basel Miami Beach, with “lifting the quality of exhibitors” at the Armory, but says that “everything is up for review”. This includes the focuses on specific themes, such as Chinese contemporary art, that Horowitz instituted. “I still feel New York deserves a first-rate art fair,” Genocchio says.
And what of Frieze New York, which is considered major competition for the Armory? “It’s in a tent on Randall’s Island, it’s a one-day art fair, and it’s not on the same scale as other fairs,” Genocchio says, noting that the Armory had around 65,000 visitors this year, while Frieze New York had around 40,000. “The Armory is also a profitable business; the operating profit runs into the millions.”
However, Genocchio acknowledges that the Frieze tents lend the fair “personality, flavour and identity”, qualities he hopes to bring to the Armory. “I’m not a boring person, I like creativity and I like engagement. And that’s what I want to bring to this,” he says.