The Center Pompidou has a new leader


Laurent Le Bon, president of the Picasso museum in Paris, will in July become president of the Center Pompidou, the modern art institution, known for its upside-down architecture, which is one of France’s most popular tourist attractions.

The French Culture Ministry confirmed Le Bon’s appointment in a press release on Friday. He will replace Serge Lasvignes, its president since 2015.

Le Bon, 52, faces a difficult tenure. The Parisian museum is set to close its doors from 2023 to 2027 for renovations to deal with its dilapidated heating and cooling system, escalators that frequently break down and asbestos in the structure that must be removed . The museum will be send works from its collection of 120,000 people at the museums of France during its closure.

This month, the Center Pompidou also announced its intention to open an outpost in Jersey City, NJ, in 2024, adding to its satellite museums in Metz, France; Malaga, Spain; Brussels; and Shanghai.

Le Bon is a well-known figure in the French art world. A graduate of the Louvre school, he earned a reputation as a provocative curator from the start of his career, according to the French daily Le Monde.

His exhibitions sometimes showed a mischievous sense of humor. In 2000, Le Bon organized a major Parisian exhibition of garden gnomes, showcasing 2,000 of these creatures, from ancient Egyptian precursors to the works of Jeff Koons. “They are benevolent spirits who bring sunshine,” he told The International Herald Tribune in an interview with the show.

The same year, he joined the Center Pompidou as an exhibition curator and in 2005 set up “Dada”, a flagship exhibition which traces the continued influence of the artistic movement. It included iconic works of art like Marcel Duchamp’s famous urinal, “Fontaine”.

Le Bon oversaw the 2010 opening of the Pompidou outpost in Metz, its first, then left to take over from the Picasso Museum, in 2014, at a time when this institution was struggling with overwhelming renovation and was arguing with his neighbors because of the noise.

Le Bon did not respond to a request for comment on his appointment, but Lasvignes, the current president of Pompidou, welcomed the decision in a statement. “His attachment to the originality of this institution bodes very well,” said Lasvignes.


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