Artist Jean-Marc Bustamante to Replace Controversial Nicolas Bourriaud as Director of the Beaux-Arts In Paris

Bustamante was already a candidate in 2011, when Bourriaud was elected.

Jean-Marc Bustamante will take up the position as new director of the Beaux-Arts in OctoberPhoto: ladepeche.fr
Jean-Marc Bustamante will take up the position as new director of the Beaux-Arts in October
Photo: ladepeche.fr

The French minister of Culture, Fleur Pellerin, has announced that artist Jean-Marc Bustamante will succeed Nicolas Bourriaud as the new director of the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Bustamante will take up the position in October.

The announcement comes after a media scandal surrounding the dismissal of Bourriaud from the post which he has held since 2011, and puts an end to months of speculations and public accusations, including rumors of nepotism set off by the satirical weekly, Le Canard Enchaîné. The paper ran an article on July 1, one day before Bourriaud was officially dismissed, claiming that the position is going to be taken from under his feet and given to Éric de Chassey, the soon-to-be-outgoing director of the Villa Medici in Rome, and a close friend of Julie Gayet, President Hollande’s girlfriend.

Bourriaud’s abrupt dismissal shocked the French and the international art world, which came to Bourriaud’s support. As a response to the criticism, Pellerin announced an open-call for candidates and put a selection committee in charge of reviewing project proposals.

Eight candidates had submitted their proposals to the selection committee, including de Chassey.

Nicolas Bourriaud Photo: Alexandre Guirkinger via Monopol

Nicolas Bourriaud
Photo: Alexandre Guirkinger via Monopol.

The French publication Les Inrocks remarked that Bustamante’s appointment seems like a “skillful maneuver” on Pellerin’s behalf, set to put a lid on the scandal with a solution that would satisfy staff and students at the esteemed art academy, as well as the art world. 

According to Le Figaro, Bustamante is more than qualified for the position. He has been a professor at the Beaux-Arts since 1998 and was about to be named the academy’s Director of Research. He also taught at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich and the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. In addition, he has also been the artistic director of the Toulouse International Art Festival for the past four years. A renowned artist, Bustamante represented France at the Venice Biennale in 2003, and participated in Documenta 8, 9, and 10.

École nationale superieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, photo: Hermann Wendler

École nationale superieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris.
Photo: Hermann Wendler

Bustamante was already a candidate in 2011. Les Inrocks points out that when students and staff protested against Bourriaud’s dismissal, Bustamante didn’t sign the open letter to the culture minister in Bourriaud’s support. He also didn’t support Bourriaud in an earlier scandal at the art academy which took place in 2014, and which is regarded, in retrospect, as the beginning of the end of Bourriaud’s tenure.

On the other hand, Bustamante has also had his fair share of controversy. Interviewed by curator Christine Macel for the catalogue of her 2005 exhibition “Dionysiac” at the Centre Pompidou—an all-male, Euro-American-centric show—Bustamante made the following distinction between men and women: “Yes, man needs to conquer new territories, the woman finds her territory and stays there… A woman looks for a man, but a man, he wants every woman… Men are always in search of virgin territories.” These lines didn’t go down well with the French art world and media. 

As the majority of students at the Beaux-Arts are women, let’s hope that Bustamante’s point of view has matured in the past decade.

Related stories: 

Fleur Pellerin Fires Nicolas Bourriaud in Alleged Case of Blatant Nepotism

Nicolas Bourriaud and Fleur Pellerin Attack Each Other in Public Dispute

The Art World Weighs In on Nicolas Bourriaud’s Dismissal

Is Morocco Secretly Hijacking Nicolas Bourriaud’s Plans for an Art Academy Outpost?


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