The German Center for Art History (DFK Paris) was founded in 1997 as a project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Its inception thus fulfilled a longstanding wish in the art history research community, namely to provide an institutional framework for studies on French art and its reception around the world.
An important goal was to centralize German-language art historical research in France as well as to spark the interest of French human sciences in German art and in Germany-language art history. In this respect, as an independent research institute, the DFK Paris has, over the years, become a forum for lively international exchange about art theory.
To strengthen this international dimension, the DFK Paris joined the International Association of Research Institutes in the History of Art (RIHA) in 2003. In addition, following a recommendation from its Academic Advisory Council, in 2006, it became a member of the Foundation of German Humanities Institutes Abroad (DGIA), which, operating directly under the German federal government, became the Max Weber Foundation in 2012.
As founding director, Professor Thomas W. Gaehtgens led the DFK Paris until October 2007. From 2009 to 2014, Professor Andreas Beyer held this position. Professor Thomas Kirchner has headed the institute since February 2014.
Initially located at Place des Victoires, the center has been housed in the Hôtel Lully, the former residence of French composer Jean-Baptiste Lully, since October 2011. It is thus located in the immediate vicinity of the French National Institute for Art History (INHA).