Caroline Bourgeois, 50

Bowery and Prince St.

Photograph: Jay Muhlin

Do you have to be a member of the bourgeoisie to have that last name? [Laughs] No, that's a very common name.

No relation to the French Revolution? No, I don't think so. I would like it to be, but it's not.

Where did you grow up? All my life in France, but I have parents from different countries, so it opened me to different cultures. Part of my father's family is from Denmark.

And your mother? Everyone is dead, so we don't need to think about them. I don't like so much to speak about my private life; let's put it that way.

Fair enough. Are you here for work? I'm working with the Franois Pinault Foundation, organizing shows. Contemporary art.

Fancy. So are there any particular artists you're especially excited about? I cannot answer that.

Because you're too much of a hotshot trendsetter? Well, yeah; I work at too important a place to answer that.

So, contemporary art: mostly banana peels on the gallery floor? [Laughs] Contemporary art speaks for itself.

I think a lot of people feel that it doesn't—that you have to already know all about it to understand it. It's difficult to generalize. Some works can speak to anyone.... It's a necessity to help the viewer to allow himself to feel something.

Or maybe just think something. When you feel, you think. When you think, you feel.

More from Caroline

"New York is a city I love. It's a very different way of living, a different feel. Walking around is different. Paris is more circular; New York is more of a rectangle."

"I ran a public space before, where I showed very unknown artists. So I know young artists pretty well."

"If you go to the suburbs of Paris, it's rougher than New York. It's like in the '80s when you went to Harlem, around 120th or 130th Street. Now, being a lot more clean, you don't have the same sense as a tourist of a rough city. In the past, I had it. We had stories of people robbed. In Paris, depending on where you are, that could happen still. Paris has been less cleaned than New York."