Independent curator and critic Hou Hanru has been appointed the new artistic director of the National Museum of XXI Century Arts (MAXXI) in Rome.
MAXXI is the first Italian national institution devoted to contemporary creativity. Conceived as a broad cultural campus, it is managed by a foundation and houses two museums: MAXXI Arte and MAXXI Architettura. The announcement of Hou’s appointment was made on July 31 by Giovanna Melandri, President of the MAXXI Foundation, together with Beatrice Trussardi and Monique Veaute.
Hou commented in a press release translated from Italian: “I am honored to assume the artistic direction of MAXXI, an institution open to the contemporary and to the future. I am full of hope and energy to make my contribution to the growth of this wonderful museum. It’s a difficult period in Italy and in many other parts of the world, as we face the challenge of a global rethinking of economy, culture, politics and human values. But difficulties always provide opportunities for the development of new paradigms.”
“With the direction of Hou,” said Melandri, “the strategic plan that led to the creation of the Center for Contemporary Arts, designed by Zaha Hadid, will be decisively accomplished. MAXXI provides Italy and Rome with a platform for research in the fields of art, architecture, photography, and design… It’s an open and creative place an incubator of new energies. The artistic director will be able to give a new impetus to the programming, collaborating with Margherita Guccione and Anna Mattirolo, the directors of MAXXI Architecture and MAXXI Art.”
“Hou will bring a truly global perspective to MAXXI and to Italy,” says Beatrice Trussardi, “Hou was among the protagonists of contemporary Asian art that has recently transformed the international art scene. He has worked in both the East and West, offering a vision of art as a metaphor for the present.”
Born in 1963 in Guangzhou in China, Hou graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing before moving to Paris in 1990. From 2006 – 2012 he was the Director of Exhibitions and Public Programs and Chair of Exhibition and Museum Studies at the San Francisco Art Institute. He has curated numerous exhibitions internationally and various biennials, including Venice (French Pavilion in 1999, the exhibition Zones of Emergency in 2003, and the Chinese Pavilion in 2007), Shanghai in 2000, Tirana in 2005, Istanbul in 2007, and Lyon in 2009. He co-directed the first “World Biennale Forum” in Gwangiu in 2012, and earlier this year was the curator of the 5th Auckland Triennial in New Zealand.
He has been a consultant to a number of international institutions, including the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Kumamoto Museum of Contemporary Art, Japan, De Appel Foundation, Amsterdam, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, Times Museum of Contemporary Art, Guangzhou, Today Art Museum, Beijing, Deutsche Bank Collection, Frankfurt, Kadist Art Foundation, San Francisco/Paris, and Asian Art Archive Hong Kong. He has been a member of a number of major international art prizes including the Hugo Boss Prize at the Guggenheim, Chinese Contemporary Art Award in Beijing, Ars Fennica in Helsinki. He has taught and lectured at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam and HISK in Antwerp/Ghent. Hou is also a correspondent to Flash Art International and contributes to many other art publications.