Hou Hanru

Provocation As Norm

“It’s about sharing and transmitting experience, and learning from a new generation.”

The French curator has been the youngest of the practitioners who have changed western views on Asian and particularly Chinese art practice since the 1990s. Throughout his career he has shown a unique understanding of emerging artists and a deep knowledge of contemporary art from both hemispheres. As Artistic Director of MAXXI, the National Museum of the 21st Century Arts in Rome, Hou uses his comprehensive approach for exhibitions on global issues, featuring all genres and art practices.

His ongoing research project with the MAXXI team The Independent (since 2013) showcases innovative art spaces in Italy and abroad while developing major experimental exhibitions and collection programs to redefine the public museum in this challenging time. Before he moved to Rome in 2013, Hou had already gained international attention as Director of Exhibitions at the San Francisco Art Institute, as well as working as an active independent curator based in Paris. The traveling exhibition Cities on the Move (1997–2000), co-curated with Hans Ulrich Obrist, investigated the ways Asian artists and architects have to deal with rapid changes in urban lifestyles and values.


Istanbul. Passion, Joy, Fury, MAXXI 2015, photo: Musacchio&Ianniello/Fondazione MAXXI


Hou has curated and co-curated more than 100 exhibitions at institutions and events around the world, and has been a consultant and advisor in numerous international institutions including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Times Museum of Art, the Rockbund Art Museum, the Deutsche Bank Collection, and the Power Station of Art. Committed to his critical spirit, he frequently contributes to journals and books, and gives lectures that are both lucid and enjoyable at art and educational institutions around the world.

Hou Hanru on His Approach