Chris Dercon, a "disruptive" at the head of the Cartier Foundation

Chris Dercon, a “disruptive” at the head of the Cartier Foundation

The Cartier Foundation, a glass building that seems to float on Boulevard Raspail in Paris, has found a new captain. Thursday, October 6, the oldest corporate foundation in France announced the appointment of its new director, Chris Dercon, alongside Hervé Chandès, who remains artistic director. In the small world of culture, the news should cause a lot of talk. Because the Belgian Dercon is an authority in the field. He was until now the boss of the Réunion des musées nationaux-Grand Palais (RMN-GP), a public structure which pools around ten museums.

He thus directed the Grand Palais, this gigantic cultural vessel which hosts exhibitions, fairs and parades in the heart of the Parisian Golden Triangle, working today, and whose reopening is scheduled for 2024 for the Olympic Games. The same year, the Cartier Foundation must also inaugurate its new spaces in the former Louvre des antiquaires, in the heart of Paris. A site that Chris Dercon will now have to supervise.

This assumption of duties is surprising. Why the hell leave a year from the end of his mandate? His task, justifies the interested party in a breath, was finished. The works of the Grand Palais were on track, and he, he assures us, wanted to reconnect with art, artists, exhibitions… What he fails to say is that, in July 2023 , he will be 65, the retirement age for the presidents of large public establishments. In a foundation, where there is no age limit, nothing will force this art adventurer to take a forced rest.

A convinced macronist

The man has audacity to spare. He will need it to participate, from his taking office on December 19, 2022, in the battle waged by private foundations to make contemporary art shine in France, attracting the big names of the public (Suzanne Pagé at the Fondation Louis Vuitton and Emma Lavigne at the Pinault Collection). He intends to throw himself into it with pleasure. Nothing but very normal after all: Chris Dercon has certainly spent his life in the public sector, but he claims, like his friend Emmanuel Macron, “disruptive”.

As recently as January, he shook up French art bowling. The Grand Palais owes its economic survival to the exhibitions, parades and fairs it hosts. In particular the International Contemporary Art Fair (FIAC) which, for half a century, made the capital pulse. In December, without warning, he launched a call for competition in this niche. The Parisian merchants shiver with worry. Event professionals vent their anger. But the Elysée and the Ministry of Culture agree with his arguments. If Paris wants to take advantage of London’s decline since Brexit, he insists, if it wants to establish itself as the stronghold of soft power, a fortiori ahead of the Olympic Games, it must forge an alliance with the best, even Swiss (Art Basel was born in Basel, before spreading to Miami and Hong Kong).

You have 80.86% of this article left to read. The following is for subscribers only.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *