Alexia Fabre Becomes First Woman to Lead Paris’s École des Beaux-Arts

Alexia Fabre, the longtime chief curator of the Musée d’Art Contemporain du Val-de-Marne (MAC/VAL), in Vitry-sur-Seine, France, has been named the director of the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Fabre becomes the first woman to lead the prestigious art school in its nearly 400-year history. She succeeds Jean de Loisy, who served as director since 2018.

A graduate of l’École du Louvre and the National Heritage Institute, Fabre led the Departmental Museum of the Hautes-Alpes in Gap from 1993 until 1998. She left to join the project to create the MAC/VAL, which opened in 2005, and she assumed the role of chief curator. She was was instrumental in raising the national profile of the museum through a lauded curatorial program which stressed contemporary art, including exhibitions by video artist and photographer Tania Mouraud, performance artist Esther Ferrer, and multidisciplinary artist Nil Yalter. Alongside Frank Lamy, head of temporary exhibitions at MAC/VAL, she executed a rehang of the collection to include more works by female artists, and adopted an acquisition policy with an emphasis on diversity.

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From 2007 to 2012, Fabre taught at l’École du Louvre. In 2009 and 2011, she and Lamy served as co-artistic directors of the Nuit Blanche in Paris, an annual celebration of the city’s galleries and museums. She’s also curated private exhibitions of French painter and filmmaker Ange Leccia and sculptor Christian Boltanski.

In 2015, she was appointed curator of Manif D’art 8 – Quebec City Biennial, which was titled “The Art of Joy,” after the coming-of-age novel by Goliarda Sapienza. When asked to describe her role as a curator of the event, Fabre quoted Boltanski: “When one is an artist, one is a projection of the wishes of others.”

The École des Beaux-Arts is among the most storied art institutions in France, whose alumni include among the most well-known French artists from throughout the centuries, like Jean-Antoine Watteau, Henri Matisse, and Neïl Beloufa.

As the next head of the school, Fabre faces ongoing criticisms that the storied institution has an issue in terms of diversity and equity. France’s Ministry of Culture said in a statement that the “project for the school is unifying in terms of pedagogy and research and displays a real ambition for national and international partnerships, artistic programming and collection management.”


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