Chris Dercon is an art historian, a documentary filmmaker and cultural producer.
He was at the end of the 1980's program director of PS1 Museum in New York where he showed the work of Helio Oiticica as well as other Brasilian art pioneers, Andre Cadere, Franz West, and David Medalla. In 1990 he became director of Witte de With, Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, known for seminal exhibitions of amongst others Helio Oiticica, Eugenio Dittborn, Allan Sekula and Paul Thek, as well as a board member of INIVA (under the presidency of Stuart Hall) in London. From 1996 until 2003 he was the director of the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, where he showed exhibition projects by Hans Haacke, Hubert Damisch, Richard Hamilton, and – much against the grain of the local populist politics – Maurizio Cattelan followed by "Unpacking Europe" curated by Salah Hassan.
Dercon curated himself exhibitions for the Bienniale of Venice and the Centre Georges Pompidou (Face a l'Histoire). After being an artistic consultant for several Frac divisions in France, Dercon advised the Generali Foundation in Vienna and Macba in Barcelona on acquisitions.
In 2003 Dercon became director of the Haus der Kunst in Munich, which was the former Haus der Deutschen Kunst initiated in 1937 by Hitler and the Nazi party. The Haus der Kunst showed amongst other exhibitions the collections of Ydessa Hendeles, Generali Foundation, Herman and Nicole Daled. Since recently the Haus der Kunst is cooperating with the Sammlung Goetz. The Haus der Kunst is well known for its photo exhibitions by Robert Adams, Lee Friedlaender, William Eggleston and many others. In 2005 Dercon produced with Anish Kapoor ‘Svayambh’ and published for the Deutsche Guggenheim the essay ‘MY BODY IS YOUR BODY’. Dercon oversaw in Munich also projects by architects Rem Koolhaas and Herzog & deMeuron. Besides, Dercon initiated exhibitions by Amrita Sher-Gil, Garin Nugroho, Amar Kanwar and Ai Weiwei. The exhibition of Amrita Sher-Gil, in collaboration with the National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi and the Goethe Institute New Delhi, was also shown at Tate Modern in London. The Primitive project by Apichatpong Weerasethakul won last spring the Golden Palm in the Cannes Film Festival. In 2010 Haus der Kunst showed an exhibition of Arab modern and contemporary art entitled “The Future of Tradition – The Tradition of Future”, again in close cooperation with the Goethe Institute.
In April 2011 Dercon joined the team of Tate Modern as its director in London, which Dercon considers as an art movement by itself.