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After Period of Tumult, de Appel Names Niels Van Tomme Director

Van Tomme. Photo by Helena Karlsson.

Niels Van Tomme.


Following many months of intrigue at the de Appel Arts Center in Amsterdam having to do with the firing of its director, Lorenzo Benedetti, last year, Niels Van Tomme has been named the institution’s new director. The hire was made by an entirely new board since the previous one resigned during the ensuring melee over the termination. In a news release, the selection committee described Van Tomme as “the embodiment of the change and innovation de Appel needs right now.”

A curator and critic, Van Tomme has worked at the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and wrote a book in 2011 titled Where Do We Migrate To? Earlier this year Van Tomme curated the seventh Bucharest Biennale, and he has previously helped organized exhibitions and public programs at the Kitchen in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans, and the Värmlands Museum in Karlstad, Sweden, among other places.

In the release, Van Tomme defined his practice as focusing “on the relationship between art and society, on creating new opportunities, and on thinking about alternative communities.” Describing de Appel’s tumultuous past few months as an “eventful period,” Van Tomme said, “I want the institution to once again reflect an open and diverse community, where there is room for experimentation, reflection and resolution.”

After Benedetti’s dismissal last year, the center’s CEO, Alexandra van Huffelen, told a Dutch paper that his “exhibition program was good, but de Appel has missed a leader in other respects: someone who inspires internally and externally and conveys a vision of the future.” (Thank you for Artforum for noting this.) Members of the center’s staff had protested the firing, but an Amsterdam court later upheld it.

Good luck, Mr. Van Tomme!

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