The announcement of a woman as the director of the Louvre in Paris, for the first time, was received with a mix of excitement and bemusement, as well as some uncertainty about how the situation might actually pan out. Most of the commentary on the issue has focused on the fact that the Louvre is a major cultural institution in Paris and the fact that a woman has never been appointed as its director. For some people, it is a question of whether appointing a woman to the position marks a new era in France, or whether the job will just be passed around—as it has been in the past.
From the earliest of societies, women have been behind the scenes—the ones behind the scenes. Their stories, their lives and their accomplishments have been systematically marginalized and pushed to the side. However, with the advent of women’s equality in the workplace, particularly in the middle of the 20th century, women began taking positions of power, in both the public and private sectors, that were previously reserved for men.
The director of the Louvre in Paris, France, announced today that the museum has appointed a female director, for the first time in its history. The woman appointed today is 37-year-old French-Canadian Louise Bourgeois, a pioneer of advanced art, whose works have been exhibited at the Louvre, the Museum of Modern Art, and more. Ms. Bourgeois will be the first female director in the history of the Louvre, but she is not the first French-Canadian to hold such a position. One notable Louvre director was the artist Louis-Philippe Hébert, who ran the museum during the reign of Napoleon III.
On the 26th. In May 2021, French President Emmanuel Macron signed a decree appointing Laurence des Carats, president of the Musée d’Orsay and the Orangerie, as the new director of the Louvre. She will take up her post on 1 January, making her the first woman in the museum’s history to hold this position. The current director of the Louvre, Jean-Luc Martinez, will be an excellent ambassador for international cooperation in the field of cultural heritage. This was reported by the Art Newspaper.
In addition to Laurence des Carats, Jean-Luc Martinez, the current director of the Louvre, who has headed the museum for the past eight years, and the director of the Picasso Museum in Paris, Laurent Le Bon, were also candidates for the position.
One of the tasks of the new director will be to increase the museum’s exceptional visitor numbers, which have fallen as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The New York Times noted that Des Carz belongs to an aristocratic family (like many Louvre executives before Martinez). She studied art history at the University of Paris-Sorbonne and at the Ecole du Louvre. Her academic specialty is the art of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and she is the author of several books on the Pre-Raphaelites.
Dec Kars Early career
She is an art historian and began her career in 1994 as an art curator at the Musée d’Orsay. In 2007 she was elected scientific director of the French Museums Agency and was responsible for the development of the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
In 2014, she was appointed director of the Musée d’Orangerie and three years later of the Musée d’Orsay, where Laurence supports the institution’s social importance. Among the museum’s flagship exhibitions, led by Des Kars, Black Models: From Géricault to Matisse in 2019 and The Origin of the World. An invention of nature in the 19th century in 2021.
Laurence de Carr also campaigns for the return of works of art looted by the Nazis during World War II. Under Des Carats’ leadership, in March 2021 the Musée d’Orsay became the first museum in France to voluntarily return works of art illegally appropriated by the Nazis. The painting in question is Gustav Klimt’s Roses among the trees, which the government acquired in 1980 from the heirs of Philipp Heusler, who had bought it at a discount from its previous owner, Eleonora Stiasna, taking advantage of her position in Nazi-annexed Austria.
Stjasny’s heirs have filed a claim for 2019. As Des Cars noted at the time, removing such an important painting from a national collection is a difficult decision that reflects a collective responsibility to the victims of Nazi barbarism.
Innovation in the Louvre
Immediately following her appointment, des Carz promised to review and expand the Louvre’s opening hours, which currently close at 5:30 p.m., to make the Louvre more accessible and approachable to young workers. As for the long-term development of the museum, the new director will initiate an exchange between ancient art and contemporary society.
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