Nicolas Bourriaud

Director of Paris’s Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, and father of the omnipresent relational aesthetics movement

Director (since 2011) of Paris’s Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, France’s best-known curator and original proselytiser of relational aesthetics found himself, this summer, in very public disagreement with a group of staff and students of the école who were agitated by their director’s allegedly high-handed management style and the perception that Bourriaud was renting the venerable art school out for one too many corporate shindigs (Bourriaud had previously signed a €1m sponsorship deal with Ralph Lauren). Bourriaud stood his ground, however, bolstered no doubt by a petition signed by almost every major contemporary artist, gallerist and curator in France, just in time to finish work on his latest curatorial opus, the current Taipei Biennial. Subtitled The Great Acceleration, it’s another showcase for Bourriaud’s restless enthusiasm for epoch-making ideas. If only art schools could be reinvented as quickly as biennials...