Nepotism Knocks Out École Director

PARIS -- Nicolas Bourriaud has been dismissed from his position as director of the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, the distinguished National Fine Art Academy in Paris, by the Minister of Culture, Fleur Pellerin.

Art collectors of ArtKabinett social media network hear that a love affair lies at the heat of this French fiasco.

Pellerin fired Bourriaud, pictured here, unceremoniously on Wednesday morning, after a 45-minute exchange. According to the French paper Le Figaro, during their lengthy meeting, the Minister of Culture explained that she had "another educational project in mind" for the Fine Art Academy.

When Bourriaud pressed for clarity on the nature of this educational project, he received no satisfactory reply.

Bourriaud then posted a message on his Facebook page saying: "Dear friends, the Minister [of Culture] has just fired me 'for reasons related to a change of direction' of her politics … Not a single factual argument in the course of a 45-minute discussion."

A call for applications to succeed Bourriaud has been launched, and entries can be submitted until July 21. However, the French media reports that his successor has long been decided upon.

Interestingly, the first two sources to break the story were the popular satirical weekly Le canard Enchaîné and Closer, a celebrity tabloid.

According to these two sources, the decision to sack Bourriaud was orchestrated by French actress Julie Gayet, the romantic companion of President François Hollande.

These sources also claim that Bourriaud, whose contract doesn't end for another few years, is to be replaced by Eric de Chassey, current director of the Villa Médicis and husband of the actress Anne Consigny (who starred in the 2007 drama The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) who is, in turn, very close to Hollande's lover, Julie Gayet.

Fittingly, the tabloid Closer titled its story: "Has Julie Gayet Pulled Some Strings for Her Friend?"

Eric de Chassey, who has been at the helm of the Villa Médicis, the French Academy in Rome, since 2009, is near the end of his contract. So it seems like Bourriaud was arbitrarily dismissed so that de Chassey, who's considered a dry art historian, would have a job.

Bourriaud is a curator and a widely published critic and thinker, perhaps best known for his writings on Relational Aesthetics. He co-founded and co-director the Palais de Tokyo in Paris together with Jérôme Sans, and was the Gulbenkian curator of contemporary art from 2008-2010 at London's Tate Britain.

Today's homepage Featured Art Video interviews Bourriaud during the recent renovation of the massive École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts.