Marc Spiegler, the former global director of Art Basel, has joined the board of directors for Superblue, the company said in a statement. The move comes after the experiential art center’s two highest profile backers, Laurene Powell Jobs’ Emerson Collective and Pace CEO Marc Glimcher, scaled back their involvement in the company last year.
Everyone loves a comeback story, and with the announcement, Superblue might get one.
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Spiegler stepped down from his position at Art Basel last October, after more than 15 years at the company, handing the reigns to Noah Horowitz, who previously served as Basel’s Americas director before leaving for Sotheby’s. Spiegler’s decision raised an obvious question: why?
“When I stepped away [from Art Basel] I really thought about what I wanted to do,” Spiegler told ARTnews during a phone conversation from his home in Zurich, Switzerland. “And although there were opportunities in other places, there was something about joining Superblue … they were working in a space that I’ve often thought was rife with possibility.”
When Superblue launched in 2020, Spiegler was interested enough to be slightly covetous, though, he said, that “jealous isn’t the right word.” The project combined two things he’s always been interested in. The first: a “newer kind of art, let’s call it immersive or experiential, which obviously has the potential to reach a broader audience.” The second: a strong technological component. That may seem random to some, but before he steered Art Basel to global art fair supremacy, Spiegler was a journalist. And, before he was considering the relevance of art critics for The Art Newspaper and profiling artist Terrance Koh for New York Magazine, he worked at the 1990s tech media darling Wired.
In fact, while speaking with ARTnews, Spiegler was preparing to travel the 150 or so miles from Zurich to Villars, Switzerland to speak on two panels for the Artech Foundation’s Form 2023 about the art world’s biggest fear at the moment: artificial intelligence.
Spiegler’s entrée into Superblue came from Mikolaj Sekutowicz, the cofounder and CEO of Therme Art, who in March 2021 became a strategic investor in Superblue after the costs of launching their Miami flagship ballooned and funding began to dry up, a situation exacerbated by supply chain problems that followed the pandemic, as ARTnews reported last December.
A few months ago, Sekutowics approached Spiegler to gauge his interest in joining the venture, said Spiegler, who is on the Therme Art advisory board and is long familiar with Therme Art’s patronage of large-scale projects like the Serpentine Galleries.
Spiegler said there are plans to grow Superblue and expand its audience, though he wouldn’t get into specifics, except to note that the board of directors has a “signficantly new composition” and that in the forthcoming months, the team will be thinking of “how it makes sense to expand, to reach bigger audiences, and work with great artists.”
Despite the extensive changes and hurdles of the last year, Spiegler said the fundamental DNA of the company hasn’t changed. While he wouldn’t speak directly to Glimcher or Powell Jobs’ current level of participation in Superblue, he said, somewhat cryptically, “One of the things that’s important is that all the people who are initially involved are still involved. I think I think that speaks I think that speaks to where things are, and where they could go.”
According to sources close to the company, all of the original investors in Superblue are still shareholders and Glimcher continues to advise the company.
When asked late last year about the trouble Superblue appeared to be going through at the time, cofounder and then-chief executive Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst told ARTnews then, “Like every start up, Superblue has been pursuing a number of different strategies, initiatives, and ways of working with artists and audiences in its first year. Based on learning and achievements thus far, the company is transitioning from its start-up phase to a more focused venture.”
Perhaps Spiegler joining the board is a sign of that renewed focus.
In the same announcement for Spiegler joining the board, the company announced that Dent-Brocklehurst, a Superblue co-founder and, as of 2021, its chief executive, will now serve as chief creative officer, “overseeing artist and gallery relations, commissions, installations, and programming.” Meanwhile, Daniel Dolan, former chief executive of Tropicana Capital Management “where he specialized in business turnarounds and restructurings” has been given a seat on the board and will become Superblue’s new chief executive overseeing “the company’s operations, finances, and growth.”