With its last president having recently departed to oversee François Pinault’s collection, the Palais de Tokyo has found a new leader in Guillaume Désanges, a curator and critic who teased plans to bring the Paris museum back to its avant-garde foundations.
Unlike the museum’s most recent president, Emma Lavigne, who came to the Palais de Tokyo in 2019 after having directed the Centre Pompidou-Metz, Désanges comes from a more experimental background. He is the founder of Work Method, a curatorial agency that bills itself as a “production structure,” and has, since 2013, run the art program of La Verrière, a Brussels gallery run by luxury fashion brand Hermès. He was also formerly the guest curator at Le Plateau-Frac Ile-de-France Art Center.
The Palais de Tokyo is Paris’s biggest contemporary art museum; never before has Désanges run an institution of its scale. In the announcement of his appointment, he promised to consider the museum as a “living body” that would exist in a statement of “permanent evolution,” and said he would partner with local institutions and schools. Désanges also said that, under his direction, once every two years, the museum would host a major participatory event outside the institution’s walls.
It is not the first time Désanges has worked with the Palais de Tokyo. In 2018, he organized a solo show of Neïl Beloufa that is one of the artist’s biggest exhibitions to date.
His appointment comes as many of Paris’s museums see a turnover in their leadership. In the past couple years, the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, the Musée du Quai Branly–Jacques Chirac, and the Centre Pompidou have all named new directors.