30/01/2008 — Appointment — Paris, Musee d’Orsay — The news of Guy Cogeval’s appointment to the Presidency of the Musee d’Orsay was published today in the Journal Officiel. It was not really a surprise as his name had been mentioned for some time as a probable successor to Serge Lemoine at the head of this Public Establishment.
Born in Paris in 1955, Guy Cogeval, after a DEA in Art History, became a curator in 1985 and started his career at Orsay as an intern. From 1985 to 1988, he was assistant to Philippe Durey at the Musee des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, then joined the Louvre as deputy director of cultural services until 1992. At that time, he took over as head of the Musee des Monuments Francais where he remained until 1998 when he was called to Canada to direct the Musee des Beaux-Arts de Montreal. During his stay there, he implemented a brilliant policy of acquisitions and international exhibitions. After his return to France in late 2006 he entered the Institud National d’Histoire de l’Art.
Guy Cogeval was commissioner for countless exhibitions, many of which have left a lasting impression. Among these we should mention : The Triumph and Death of the Hero in Historic Painting when he was in Lyon (1988) ; The Renaissance, from Brunelleschi to Michelangelo organized at the Musee des Monuments Francais in 1994-1995 (as well as in Venice, Washington and Berlin), its logical follow-up Triumphs of the Baroque with stops in Montreal and Marseille for France (1999) and Hitchcock and Art in Montreal and at the Centre Pompidou (2001), a retrospective which everyone is still talking about. A specialist of Edouard Vuillard, Guy Cogeval published the imposing Catalogue critique des peintures et pastels d’Edouard Vuillard and devoted a major retrospective to the artist in 2003.
The appointment of a curator at the head of the Musee d’Orsay is excellent news as in the last few weeks all sorts of worrisome rumors had been heard. The museum is one of the rare Public Establishments which is still directed by an art historian. Guy Cogeval’s experience as head of a major international museum will enable the Musee d’Orsay to maintain its status as one of the world’s leading institutions.
Having officially reached retirement age, no exceptions were made for Serge Lemoine who had expressed the wish to remain as director of the museum until 2009. His work at Orsay resulted in various achievements which we have often mentioned here including many fine exhibitions and important acquisitions. An article on the most recent ones in the last few years will soon appear here.