Clément Chéroux, who arrived to the Museum of Modern of Art as chief curator in June 2020, is leaving the institution to helm the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson in his native France, the New York Times reports. Chéroux was named to his MoMA post just weeks before the Covid-19 crisis effectively shut down New York and with it the museum, which had only been open for a few months following it shuttering for a major renovation and expansion. Chéroux at that time replaced Quentin Bajac, who himself left for a French institution, Paris’s Jeu de Paume, of which he remains director. The post has been held by some of the most significant figures in photography, among them Edward Steichen and John Szarkowski.
Prior to coming to the New York institution, Chéroux—himself an accomplished photographer—was senior curator of the Pritzker Center for Photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and served as chief curator in the Department of Photography at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. On accepting his position at MoMA, Chéroux cited the museum’s then-recent decision to show photography alongside painting, sculpture, and film as yielding a “great new energy.” During his brief tenure at the institution, the photography department purchased works by rising talents including Deana Lawson, and Sara VanDerBeek, additionally acquiring Marilyn Nance’s photographs of the celebrated 1977 African arts festival FESTAC 99. Currently on view at the museum are two major exhibitions organized by senior curator Roxana Marcoci: a retrospective of the work of German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans and a group show of women photographers themed around issues of resistance.
MoMA director Glenn D. Lowry in a statement described Chéroux as a “gifted curator and a beloved colleague whose leadership of our photography program through an exceptionally difficult period was exemplary.” The Fondation Cartier-Bresson, where Chéroux, lands next, was established in 2003 in Paris and is undergoing an expansion that is due to be completed in November. French daily Libération reports that Chéroux will succeed Agnès Sire, the organization’s founder and artistic director, and François Hébel, since 2017 the foundation’s director.