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Simon Baker: From the Tate to the MEP

Published on , by Sophie Bernard

With the acquisition of forty-six prints by Irving Penn and three thousand contemporary books, the former curator of the Tate, now director of the Maison Européenne de la Photographie (MEP) in Paris, unveils his strategy.

© Marguerite Bornhauser Simon Baker: From the Tate to the MEP

© Marguerite Bornhauser

Coming from the Tate Modern in London, where you played a key role in developing its photographic collection, you have often said that one of the MEP 's assets is its collection. What are its specific features? Yes, one of the reasons I applied for the position in 2018 was this collection, which covers the 1950s to the present day, and includes major names like William Klein, Helmut Newton, Richard Avedon and Cindy Sherman. In addition, with the majority of photographers, the MEP also owns not one or two pieces but large groups and even complete series, like Nobuyoshi Araki's "Sentimental Journey" and Robert Frank's "Americans". From the outset, this idea of acquiring series was a firm commitment for Jean-Luc Monterosso (co-founder of the MEP and its director until 2018—Ed.). Today, it remains one of my priorities for development.   Why is it so important, in your view? Because most photographers conceive their work in series, in the long term. So this decision means that I respect this specific aspect of the medium and the artists' approach. I am also continuing my predecessor's work. Is this the spirit in which the MEP took in forty-six prints by Irving…
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