Walker Art Center Senior Curator Philippe Vergne has been appointed Director of the François Pinault Foundation for Contemporary Art, a new arts center scheduled to open in late 2007 on France’s Seguin Island in Paris. Vergne will remain at the Walker through April 2005 when the center opens its expanded facility designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects Herzog & de Meuron. He will return to Minneapolis periodically through fall 2005 when his traveling exhibition Huang Yong Ping: A Retrospective premieres at the Walker. Meanwhile, Vergne will be involved in defining the cultural and programmatic missions of the François Pinault Museum. He will assume his new position in fall 2005.
“It is with genuine sadness and pride that we, Board and staff alike, wish Philippe ‘bon voyage,’” said Walker Director Kathy Halbreich. “He has been a spectacular partner: supremely talented, knowledgeable, and engaged. His contributions to both the exhibition program and to the collection have been significant and will continue to be enjoyed for many years to come. I know Philippe will be a singular museum director and I look forward to continuing our conversations and collaborations.”
The Pinault Foundation, a 350,000-square-foot facility designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, will house the contemporary art collection of François Pinault, a philanthropist and entrepreneur who built PPR Group (Gucci, YSL, the French department store Au Printemps) and owns the vineyard Chateau Latour, the auction houses Christie’s and Piasa, as well as other corporations. The new museum, the largest privately owned arts institution in Europe, will promote 21st-century art through multidisciplinary programs.
Vergne joined the Walker Art Center staff in 1997. As Senior Curator and head of the Visual Arts department, he has organized the exhibitions How Latitudes Become Forms: Art in a Global Age, Let’s Entertain, and Herzog & De Meuron: In Process, and has coordinated artist residencies with Joep van Lieshout, Christian Marclay, and Nari Ward. He is currently curating the first retrospective of the work of Chinese artist Huang Yong Ping, a traveling exhibition that premieres at the Walker in October 2005; overseeing the opening installations showcasing the Walker’s collection that will fill the entirety of the new Walker facility; and curating a Kara Walker survey for premiere in 2007. Vergne has brought to the Walker collection important works by artists Andre Cadere, Dan Graham, David Hammons, Thomas Hirshhorn, Huang Yong Ping, Pierre Huyghe, Cameron Jamie, Otto Mühl, Herman Nitsch, Philippe Perreno, and Franz West, among others.
Vergne was Director of the Musée d’art Contemporain (MAC), Marseille, from 1994 to 1997. In April of this year he was honored with the medal of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters, a prestigious citation recognizing individuals who have distinguished themselves in the field of art and literature and have made significant contributions to furthering the arts in France and throughout the world.