Tate Modern and Tate Britain both seeking new directors following double departure

by Tom Anstey | 05 May 2015

Chris Dercon has chosen to step down from his role as director of London’s Tate Modern, the second recent departure from a Tate gallery following the earlier resignation of Tate Britain’s Penelope Curtis at the end of March.

Dercon, who was appointed director at the Tate Modern in 2011, has taken up a new role as director of the Volksbühne, an experimental theatre in Berlin first opened in December 1914. Dercon takes over from Frank Castorf who had been in the role since 1992.

Dercon will not depart immediately, taking up his new position in Q3 2017, allowing an extended departure to see through the completion of Tate Modern’s £215m extension, which is scheduled to be completed in 2016. Dercon set record visitor numbers for the gallery in 2012, with 5.7 million people coming through its doors, achieved in part through the gallery’s most popular ever exhibit – an exhibition of cutouts by Henri Matisse.

Penelope Curtis parted ways with Tate Britain in March to also take up a new role, this time at Lisbon’s Gulbenkian museum - which houses a collection of ancient and modern art in Portugal’s capital.

Curtis – who was appointed Tate Britain director in 2010 and oversaw the £45m redevelopment of the London gallery, as well as a rehang of the entire collection – will become the first foreign director of the Gulbenkian. Curtis had received some criticism during her time at the Tate, with notable art critics saying some of her exhibitions were unsuccessful and “only appealed to the minority.” During her tenure, visitor numbers fell 10 per cent in 2013 to 1.38 million and even further in 2014, with figures falling to 1.36 million – 20th place in a table of UK attractions.

“Over the last five years, Penelope Curtis has led Tate Britain with a clarity of vision that has resulted in the successful redevelopment of the gallery and a highly acclaimed rehang of the collection,” said Sir Nicholas Serota, director of Tate galleries.

“She established a new chronological presentation and introduced free changing focus displays which have allowed the gallery to present specific artists, themes or new research relating to Tate’s collection.”

Commenting on Dercon’s departure, Serota said: “Chris Dercon is helping to open Tate Modern to a wider world and more diverse audiences through his support for a more international programme, photography, live performance and film.

“We look forward to working with him on the opening of the new Tate Modern and until he takes up his appointment in Berlin in 2017.”

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Chris Dercon has chosen to step down from his role as director of London’s Tate Modern, the second recent departure from a Tate gallery following the earlier resignation of Tate Britain’s Penelope Curtis at the end of March. Dercon, who was appointed director at the Tate Modern in 2011, has taken up a new role as director of the Volksbühne, an experimental theatre in Berlin first opened in December 1914.
Penelope Curtis and Chris Dercon are both soon to part ways with Tate for new roles overseas
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