LE CATEAU-CAMBRESIS.- The Matisse Museum
was founded in 1952 by the painter Henri Matisse in his birthplace of Le Cateau-Cambrésis. It came under the aegis of the Département du Nord government authority in 1992 and was expanded and totally renovated in 2002.
Under the leadership of its former director, Dominique Szymusiak, recently retired, the museum substantially grew its collections, climbing to 22nd position in the rankings of the 300 largest French museums. With the forthcoming renovation of its gardens and annexation of the towns historic covered market, which will be devoted to contemporary art, the Département du Nord is making a strong statement about its new and ambitious plans for the Matisse Museum, both locally and internationally.
It̉s within this context of repositioning the museum that Patrick Kanner, President of the Council of the Département du Nord, has appointed Carrie Pilto director. She assumed her new position in December 2012.
Franco-American, Pilto studied art history at the Sorbonne University in Paris (Université de Paris IV) where she graduated with a DEA in modern and contemporary art. She holds an undergraduate degree in finance and business administration from the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona. While studying in Paris and Madrid, she gained experience in both the public and private sectors as assistant to contemporary art galleries and auction houses, and later in the contemporary art department (ARC) of the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris (Musée dart moderne de la Ville de Paris), where she was curatorial assistant for the exhibition Life/Live that introduced a generation of "Young British Artists" to France.
In 1997, she joined then ARC curator HansUlrich OBRIST, along with designer and arts patron agnès b., and artist Christian BOLTANSKI, in founding point dironie, a series of carte blanche editions by contemporary artists and thinkers distributed free of charge all over the world. As managing editor of point dironie, PILTO produced over 40 issues through 2007 with the likes of Jonas MEKAS, Douglas GORDON, Annette MESSAGER, Lawrence WEINER, Gabriel OROZCO, Roni HORN, Thomas HIRSCHHORN, Hans-Peter FELDMANN, Cedric PRICE, Matthew BARNEY, Harmony KORINE, Yoko ONO, GILBERT & GEORGE, Philippe PARRENO, Edouard GLISSANT, Richard PRINCE, Rosemarie TROCKEL, Ken LUM, Ed RUDCHA, Tobias BUCHE, and Tacita DEAN.
Her work as an independent curator includes the exhibition The Artists Library (2008) for the Centre International de lart et du paysage de lIsle de Vassivière, in the Limousin region of France. There she invited contemporary artists Carol Bove, Claire Fontaine, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Thomas Hirschhorn, Joseph Kosuth, Maria Pask, and Peter Wuthrich, to present works transforming their personal libraries into major installations and site-specific works.
From 2007-2011, prior to joining the Matisse Museum, Pilto served as Project Assistant Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. There she devoted her knowledge of the historic avantgarde to researching an identifying the collections of Gertrude Stein and her family, culminating in the award-winning exhibition The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-garde, organized in collaboration with the Réunion des Musées Nationaux (RMN) and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Pilto instigated new scholarship contributing to the exhibitions popular and critical success, including awards for « Best Historical Museum Exhibition Nationally» in 2011 by the International Association of Art Critics (AICA) ; « Best Thematic Exhibition » of 2011 by the Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC), and the Dedalus Foundation Exhibition Catalogue Award for 2012.
While exploring the Stein̉s relationship with Matisse, alongside the Matisse Family archives and my colleagues in Paris and New York, I developed an endless fascination for his work, and was struck by the relevance of his legacy for so many artists working today. "Im honored to be able to lead the further development of Matisses museum with the expansion project. I very much look forward to continuing its tradition of public service, of scholarly exhibitions devoted to Matisse, August Herbin, and the Tériade collection of modern masters and artist books, and to redynamizing these avant-garde traditions by commissioning new work by international contemporary artists."