News

In a statement issued this week, National Gallery of Australia Chairman Allan Myers has officially announced the appointment of Nick Mitzevich as the new NGA Director, commencing July 2.

Following weeks of speculation, Mitzevich will be replacing current NGA Director Gerard Vaughan, who is retiring from his post on July 1. Myers cited Vaughn’s accomplishments in the areas of visitor growth and artwork loans as valuable contributions to the NGA stating, “Gerard has brought particular focus to the permanent collection during his time as Director, overseeing a major rehang of the galleries which has reinvigorated the visitor experience.”

Today Mitzevich announced he will be concluding his time as Director of the Art Gallery of South Australia to take up the five-year-term as NGA Director in Canberra. Mitzevich has been at the helm of the AGSA since 2010 and his prior directorial roles have included the University of Queensland Art Museum and Newcastle Regional Gallery.

With broad leadership experience and a penchant for going against the status quo, Mitzevich is no stranger to making things happen.

Amongst his notable achievements at the AGSA were the implementation of 2013’s major international exhibition, Turner from the Tate: The Making of a Master and the curation of Dark Heart, the 2014 Adelaide Biennial.

Known for developing new avenues for arts interpretation and collecting, Mitzevich recently spearheaded the AGSA’s Fashion Fund, an initiative dedicated to the crossover between art and fashion. As a result, Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen’s Alchemy of Light, a silk tulle dress encrusted with bubbles of leather, was purchased along with Scene, an intricately embroidered gown by Adelaide designer Paul Vasileff – becoming the AGSA’s first acquisitions of fashion couture in its 135-year history.

Mitzevich also succeeded in procuring multiple examples of Australian and international art for the AGSA collection, including Camille Pissarro’s 1886 pointillist landscape, Prairie a Eragny, purchased in 2014 for $4.5 million, a princely sum sourced entirely from the donations of over 400 individuals and benefactors. In complete contrast, the Pissarro purchase followed Mitzevich’s prior acquisition in 2012 of Berlinde de Bruyckere’s controversial sculpture We Are All Flesh, 2011-2012, a towering installation depicting the upturned body of a horse.

Mitzevich’s impending departure from the AGSA follows his recent proposal to redevelop the site of the old Royal Adelaide Hospital into Adelaide Contemporary, an ambitious public space comprising a new art gallery and sculpture park. Former Sydney Opera House CEO Michael Lynch will continue to advise the AGSA on the development of Adelaide Contemporary while current AGSA Deputy Director Mark Horton and Assistant Director, Artistic Programs, Lisa Slade, have been appointed AGSA Co-Directors for the interim. The search for a new AGSA Director will begin later this month.

Briony Downes