As the Metropolitan Museum of Art tends to the task of replacing one Philippe, the Dia Art Foundation has snatched up another, today announcing the appointment of Philippe Vergne as director of the 34-year-old nonprofit institution. Vergne, currently the deputy director and chief curator at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, starts at Dia on September 15. He succeeds Jeffrey Weiss, who resigned in March.
As Dia director, Verne will oversee not only the glorious Dia:Beacon museum but also the foundation’s long-term art installations scattered throughout the country (Robert Smithson‘s embattled “Spiral Jetty” among them) and a contemporary art program in New York City that is still in need of a home. “Beyond being an institution, Dia is a laboratory and a muse. It represents a necessary, dynamic model—one that has challenged, refined, and deepened the rules of institutional engagement with artists, their art, and their audiences,” said Vergne is a statement issued by Dia this morning. “I am looking forward to working with and learning from Dia’s outstanding staff and its highly dedicated board in leading this unique and inspiring institution towards a new chapter.” Want to know more about Vergne? Click “continued…” for a full bio.
Mr. Vergne is a highly respected museum professional in the world of contemporary art. Having joined the Walker in 1997, he organized more than 25 international exhibitions, including How Latitudes Become Forms: Art in a Global Age, Let’s Entertain, Herzog & de Meuron: In Process, and the first retrospective of the work of Chinese artist Huang Yong Ping, a traveling exhibition that premiered at the Walker in October 2005. He additionally coordinated artist residencies with Joep van Lieshout, Christian Marclay, and Nari Ward, and oversaw the collection exhibitions that inaugurated the Walker’s expanded facility.
In the fall of 2004, Mr. Vergne was appointed director of the Francois Pinault Foundation for Contemporary Art in Paris. In July of 2005, when the Foundation moved its proposed museum from Paris to Venice, Mr. Vergne returned to the Walker as deputy director and chief curator. In 2006, he co-curated the Whitney Biennial, with Chrissie Iles, and in 2007, he organized Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love, the first survey of work by this artist; it premiered at the Walker Art Center before traveling to the Musee d’art moderne, in Paris; the Whitney Museum of American Art, in New York City; the Hammer Museum, in Los Angeles; and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, where it opens on July 5, 2008. Over the past decade, Mr. Vergne has brought to the Walker collection significant works by artists including Doug Aitken, Daniel Buren, Tony Conrad, Dan Graham, Rineke Dijstra, Sheela Gowda, David Hammons, Thomas Hirshhorn, Mr. Huang, Pierre Huyghe, Cameron Jamie, Mike Kelley, Yves Klein, Luc Tuymans, Philippe Parreno, and Ms. Walker, among others.
A frequent lecturer, Mr. Vergne has edited and contributed essays to numerous books and catalogues, and has written for major art magazines. In 2008, Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love was awarded the “Best Monograph Museum Show Nationally” by the International Association of Art Critics (AICA). In 2005, ArtReview magazine named Mr. Vergne “one of the 100 most influential people in the art world,” and in 2004, he was honored by the French government with the prestigious medal of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters, which recognizes an individual’s professional achievements in the fields of art and literature.
Mr. Vergne was born in 1966 in Troyes, France. In 1988, he received a BA in law from the University of Paris II, Assas. In 1989, he received a BA in archaeology and the history of modern art from the University of Paris IV, Sorbonne, where he continued his studies, earning an MA (1991) and Diplome d’Etudes Approfondies (First Doctoral Diploma) (1992), both in art history.