Dia Art Foundation Names a Curator as Its Next Director
By CAROL VOGEL
Published: June 24, 2008
After two years of flux, the Dia Art Foundation said on Monday that it had hired a prominent contemporary-art curator, Philippe Vergne, deputy director of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, as its director.
Dia's chairwoman, Nathalie de Gunzburg, said that Mr. Vergne would begin work on Sept. 15. He succeeds Jeffrey Weiss, who resigned at the end of February after just nine months in the post, saying that he felt that it did not allow him to focus enough on curatorial and scholarly work.
Among Mr. Vergne's biggest challenges will be to find a permanent exhibition space in New York City for Dia, a nonprofit institution devoted to contemporary art.
After closing its Chelsea spaces in January 2004, it had planned to open a museum at the entrance to the High Line, an abandoned railway line on the West Side of Manhattan that will become an elevated park. But Dia's board scrapped that project in the fall of 2006 after losing its longtime director, Michael Govan, who became director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and its board chairman and biggest benefactor, Leonard Riggio. (The Whitney Museum of American Art is now planning to build a satellite museum at that downtown site.)
In seeking a New York home, Dia no longer has someone like Mr. Riggio willing to write big checks, as he did when giving some $30 million for acquisitions and the creation of Dia:Beacon, a sprawling exhibition space in a former box factory in Beacon, N.Y.
But in a telephone interview Mr. Vergne, 42, said he believed Dia could rally and hold a more important place than ever in the art world. "I've always been a big fan of Dia," he said. "It's a place with an incredible history and is different than the traditional museum model. The chance to take it to a new chapter is exciting."
His first priority, he said, will be to learn as much about Dia and its culture as possible and to start scouting for a New York site. "We have to figure out what would be the ideal kind of space for Dia," he said. [read on...]