Simon Baker, the Tate’s first photography curator, has been appointed director of the Maison Européenne de la Photographie (MEP), the prestigious photography center in Paris. Baker will succeed Jean-Luc Monterosso, who has been the MEP's director since it opened in 1996 and whose mandate ends on March 31. Baker will take over his position in May.
In 2009 Baker, who graduated from University College London (UCL) with Ph.D. in art history, joined the Tate Modern in London as curator of the Photography and international Art department. In 2015, he became head curator of the department with the main goal of developing the photography acquisition, conservation and exhibition strategy.
He has been the curator of many Tate exhibitions, including those featuring the work of Boris Mikhailov, Sirkka-Liisa Kontin, Guy Bourdin, Yutaka Takanashi, Bernd and Hilla Becher, and recently "Performing for the camera" (2016) , "Nick Waplington / Alexander McQueen: Working Progress" (2015), "Conflict, Time, Photography" (2014), "William Klein + Daido Moriyama" (2012), "Simon Taryn, A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters" (2011).
Simon Baker has also been Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Nottingham (2004-2009). He is the author of numerous publications on the history of art and photography.
"It’s a fantastic opportunity and Simon thoroughly deserves it," said the director of Tate Modern, Frances Morris. "Simon was instrumental in building the Tate's collection of photography and really understands how photography is embedded in the history of art."
Baker was selected by a jury presided by the MEP's president Jean-François Dubos. Monterosso will remain on the MEP's board of directors.
The news comes just weeks after Shoair Mavlian, assistant curator at Tate Modern, announced she was leaving the institution to become Photoworks' new director. In October 2017 Kate Bush joined Tate Britain as its adjunct curator of photography, however, responsible for "researching and building the collection of British photography and curating exhibitions and displays". In September 2017, Tate announced that it had acquired Martin Parr’s 12,000-strong photobook collection, making it one of the leading institutional collectors in this field.
Baker told the Art Newspaper that he intended to “devise a new and exciting program of exhibitions that will showcase the best post-war and contemporary practice”.
"I am very interested in the MEP's tradition of working around the cutting edges of fashion photography and demonstrating a strong commitment to women and emerging artists," Baker told the paper. "The MEP must become a home for photography in the 21st century—open, welcoming and relevant to the broadest possible audience. When it was founded, photography was a specialist subject of interest to a small but dedicated public, but now many people have cameras on their phones and photography is a part of daily life."