Former Louvre chief to head preparations for 130th anniversary of French-Korean ties

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Jan 22, 2014 - 19:37
  • Updated : Jan 22, 2014 - 19:37
Henri Loyrette (center), former president and general director of the Louvre Museum, speaks with reporters at the French Embassy in Seoul on Tuesday. (Philip Iglauer/The Korea Herald)

The former president of the Louvre Museum and Cho Yang-ho, the chairman and CEO of Korean Air, will head up a joint organizing commission to prepare for the 130th anniversary of Korean-French diplomatic relations in 2015 and 2016.

Henri Loyrette, former president and general director of the Louvre Museum, announced his appointment as he wrapped up a week-long visit to South Korea with a press briefing at the French Embassy, Tuesday.

Cho is well-known as an avid supporter of the arts here and abroad. Anniversary celebrations kick off in France in September 2015, and continue for a year and a half through 2016.

South Korean-French diplomatic relations began in 1886 with the signing of the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation.

“We spent a very busy week here in Korea. I even felt a week was too short. I met a lot of people including government officers who are going to prepare the year of exchange together, including the vice secretary of the Foreign Ministry, and the minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism,” said Loyrette.

He also sat down with the heads of the nation’s most prestigious cultural institutions, such as museum directors, the head of the National Theater of Korea, the head of Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra and the head of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts.

“It was my first time to meet them but the meetings were productive enough to guarantee that France and Korea share ideas on how to approach the 130th anniversary,” he said.

For more than a decade until he stepped down last year, Loyrette headed the Louvre, perhaps his country’s most prestigious and iconic center for fine art. He was also the first curator and then director of the Musee d’Orsay in 1974 and 1994, respectively. He is also an accomplished author, penning 19 books, including “Nineteenth Century Art.”

He visited Seoul several times previous to this week-long trip in his capacity as the head of the Louvre and d’Orsay.

Celebrations here and in France will include a string of joint cultural events, but it is still too soon to outline specifics, he said during the briefing with reporters.

“We don’t have specific plans to announce yet, but we did set out guidelines for cooperation that will introduce Korean works in France and French works in Korea and joint projects from design to production,” he said.

Declining to describe specific projects, Loyrette said he hoped a solo exhibition of painter Park Soo-keun, sometimes described here as a Korean Jean-Francois Millet for his work’s naturalism and realism, could be included in joint events, describing Park as an artist who should be introduced in France.

A retrospective exhibition of Park is currently underway at Gana Insa Art Center in Seoul.

By Philip Iglauer (