Melbourne Art Fair names inaugural artistic director for 2020

MAF Emily CormackThe Melbourne Art Foundation has announced the appointment of Emily Cormack as the Melbourne Art Fair 2020 Artistic Director – a new position that will oversee the artistic direction for the 16th edition of the fair.

Cormack is an independent curator and writer, most recently appointed curator at TarraWarra Biennial (2018), and has curated exhibitions across Australia, the Asia Pacific and Europe.

“We are thrilled that Emily Cormack will be working with us to define the 2020 edition, to develop a bold artistic program that both challenges and engages a diverse audience,” said Melbourne Art Foundation CEO and Fair Director Maree Di Pasquale. “She is a curator that is drawn to the experimentation and dynamism of emerging arts practices and we look forward to materialising this in the development and programming of the fair.”

This new, high profile position signifies a key moment in the evolution of Melbourne Art Fair as a forum for contemporary art and ideas. Changing on a biennial basis, the artistic director will establish a unique fair identity for each edition, providing galleries, collectors and the art-loving public even more reason to attend and engage every two years.

“While artistic directors are more prominent in biennales and festivals, the creation of this position demonstrates Melbourne Art Foundation’s commitment to producing a fair of the highest curatorial standard, and reflects the public’s demand for original thematic experiences,” Di Pasquale adds.

Melbourne Art Fair, Australasia’s most progressive forum for contemporary art, will take place 18 – 21 June 2020 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, presenting iconic and new work by artists from over 50 of the region’s most respected galleries. Melbourne Art Fair continues to be a seminal fixture on the Australasian cultural calendar, stimulating critical and commercial attention for galleries and their artists for over 30 years.

As the Artistic Director, Cormack will work with the fair’s curatorial committees to select galleries and artists for the following programs: Galleries, the main exhibition sector, presents the region’s most significant galleries with new and iconic works from leading artists in solo shows and curated projects.

Accent is a thought-provoking platform for emerging artists with specially conceived projects from ten of the region’s most progressive young galleries. Discover artists with a new perspective that are shifting the global conversation around contemporary art.

Making its debut in 2020, Beyond harnesses the monumental exhibition spaces within the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Carefully curated installations and spatial interventions will fill the epic spaces contributing to greater conversations and presenting opportunities for artists far beyond the art fair stand. Melbourne Art Foundation provides a monetary grant for each participating gallery.

Partnering with independent art spaces and non-collecting institutions from across Australia and New Zealand, Project Rooms offer a platform for experimentation featuring artists that push the boundaries of performative and multidisciplinary works.

A major drawcard of the fair is the returning Melbourne Art Foundation Commission. The AU$70,000 commission, now in its 8th year, provides a living artist with the opportunity to realise a large-scale work for unveiling at Melbourne Art Fair, which is later gifted to a prominent Australian institution. The 2020 Commission partner will be announced in September.

“As a curator I am increasingly focused on the moment of encounter, how we can be held captive by this effective and activating experience,” says Cormack. “As Artistic Director of Melbourne Art Fair, I look forward to exploring how these encounters play out within the expanded platform of the newly reconfigured art fair.”

“In this new role, I will focus on the activity generated by these moments of connection, where the art fair’s diverse audiences are enlivened by a honed collection of innovative, sometimes challenging and always captivating contemporary art,” she added.

The Melbourne Art Fair will take place 18 – 21 June 2020. Gallery applications are now open, and close 18 October 2019. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Emily Cormack (supplied)