Nick Mitzevich is the director of the National Gallery of Australia, surprising no-one

Nick Mitzevich, the current director of the the Art Galllery of South Australia and a former director of the University of Queensland Art Museum and Newcastle Region Art Gallery will lead Canberra’s National Gallery of Australia (NGA) from July 2.

Mitzevich takes over from Gerard Vaughan, who will retire after he was appointed in 2014 and championed by the gallery’s chairman Allan Myers who was Vaughan’s biggest fan during both their decade long stints at Melbourne’s NGV.

Public gallery director appointments in Australia are made after candidates have proven themselves to be controversy-free to the politicians who appoint them.

The only headlines about art galleries politicians want to see are those that describe how many visitors come through the gallery doors and how many tourist dollars have been pumped into the region.

They do not like stories about gallery union problems, accusations of stolen antiquities, offensive art or protests by artists about gallery sponsors or contractors who make money from refugee detention camps.

Gallery directorships come from the small pool of men (almost always) and who have worked their way up from regional gallery directorships. Otherwise, they come from the smaller pool who went overseas in their twenties and proved themselves a bright spark in a prestigious gallery before coming home to senior jobs than can pay up to $500,000 a year.

The successful candidates are always Australian despite the “global search” that loudly accompanies the recruitment search. Canberra has still not recovered from the experience of Irishman Brian Kennedy in the job at the NGA in the late 1990s to early 2000s which left nearly everyone in tears.



3 responses to “Nick Mitzevich is the director of the National Gallery of Australia, surprising no-one

  1. Apologies for long posts but I want to follow up on this Nick M news. Daily Review is so right to be skeptical here. There is something DEEPLY WRONG with Australian Art. Somehow we seem far more interested in the 1% of the art world and we totally forget the 99%. In this the Australian Art World mirrors the economic and social wider world. Why? How do we accept such a concentration in Power at the top of an art world that is basically Publicly Funded? Why can’t we try to imagine an art world that REVERSES the depressingly abusive Status Quo of the world?

    In truth the art world is COMPLETELY UNABLE to help any but a chosen few artists. I mean who of us can honestly say that the “best” art is selected by the Gatekeepers? Contemporary Art can be anything now so how can one honestly support the concept of “excellence” when faced with something that could just as easily be in an upmarket store window; something retrieved from a Op Shop; something badly painted but made by a currently fashionable Identity; some single channel video installation that is identical to You Tube….and let’s face it ALL PHOTOGRAPHY IS THE SAME.

    BUT the art world HAS TO pretend there is somehow a heirachical order because Power isn’t held and maintained without such a confected ORDER. People in power are terrified of losing power, its their overriding reason for being in power.

    AND Power in Australian Art comes from Government and wealth. What we have now is a disgraceful perversion of Democracy whereby Public Servants are able to have power over a mass of ARTISTS who in fact are members of the public and actually should be SERVING artists because they are members of the public, they are voters and citizens and tax payers! INSTEAD we have a system that will act immediately if some non artist memeber of the public, one of the masses Governments want to catered to by their Art Institutions BUT if you are an artist with a complaint you will be visciously degraded. I have found this out only too well. The NGA Canberra purcahsed a disputed work of mine on the secondary market and called me a liar and stated it was AUTHENTIC when it in fact had NO signature or inscription on its reverse, the person who had remade it (badly) had sawed all that off!!! BUT still the NGA insisted I was wrong and THEY WERE RIGHT! I have so many stories of such disgraceful behaviour I can no longer trust anyone working in the Govt Art sphere and that is the bulk of wherevthe money for art comes from.

  2. Agree with the Daily Review text totally. Yes Nick is talented AND perfect for the politicians. BUT it is really depressing as well. Gerard V got sick of Canberra when the Govt cut his acquisitions budget. So short sighted considering how Art keeps skyrocketing in value. I wasn’t a fan of Radford BUT his idea of using the Future Fund to buy Art now looks like GENIUS! The PROFIT aftr a decade since Radford floated that idea would now be amazing. WHAT Nick should do is go to the Govt and say lets buy 2 works by a big name and after 10 years sell one to pay for the other.

    NOW what the problem with Nick will be is the same as Ellwood. BOTH want to use Contemporary Art to revitilize their Galleries. By doing this they basically rediuce Contemporary Art to a hollow easily digestable shell that as Daily Review say above is actually all targetted to Govt approval. As the vast majority of State and Federal fine art money goes to their big flagship Institutions this leaves any idea of an ALTERNATIVE dead in the water. This is a really important aspect of the recent Global development of Contemporary Art, any sense of outside has been evaporated for an endless NEW inside. Also many of the Global Biennials and Triennials are Govt funded so a very large part of Global Art is Govt and therefore Propaganda. Propagand for the Status Quo. Artists fall ober themselves to be in favor with Govt, this is no more glaringly wrong than with socalled “political” art which can’t be political at all BECAUSE it is funded by Govt.
    I’ve said it before but the 150,000 artworks held HOSTAGE in Canberra warehouses will still be sitting in them in 50 years UNLESS the NGA devolves to some extent. The NGA is doing a big show of its USA post war art holdings and is pround to promote it as works hardly ever seen!!! I reckon that there and 1000s of artworks in the NGA Collection that have and will NEVER be seen. Its actually a SCANDAL!!

    BUT the Gatekeepers like Nick and Tony E would never give up any control of “their” artworks as that would be a loss of POWER and that’s what these TYPES crave!!! Power!!!

  3. The NGA has been moribund for sometime, is in need of a serious shakeup.
    Time will tell whether Nick can overcome the galleries considerable, inertia and general dysfunction.


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