Controversies France

Director backs sponsors at top French art school

Nicolas Bourriaud defends Ralph Lauren deal

The school's restored lecture hall

The director of the Ecole nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Nicolas Bourriaud, has defended the decision to seek sponsorship for the prestigious art school after students protested against an event at the college hosted by the US fashion designer Ralph Lauren. The students were angry after 14 studios in the college were closed earlier this month for a private Ralph Lauren event. “Some of the studios were affected by the event on two weekdays; this was not communicated to the students soon enough,” says Bourriaud, who is a former co-director of the Palais de Tokyo, Paris.

Ralph Lauren has donated €1.5m to the college for the restoration of its Honour Amphitheatre which was decorated by Paul Delaroche in 1841. Meanwhile, the coffee company Nespresso supports the college’s exhibitions. Bourriaud says that since state funding was cut by €500,000, private finance is essential. “Our strategy has focused on presenting the assets of the Beaux-arts de Paris, to both the art world and our potential private partners,” Bourriaud says. “Now we need to work on developing how students participate in the life of the school.”

Update: Ralph Lauren is giving €1.5m to the Ecole nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, not €500,000 as we originally reported.

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