“Centre Pompidou”

Centre Pompidou: pipe dreams

Delivered by architects Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano in 1977, the Centre Pompidou recently celebrated its 40th birthday. We retrace this museum, social and monumental adventure. An account of the “Pompidou touch”, an example of interdisciplinarity and cultural renown. The 40th birthday of the Centre National d’Art et de Culture Georges-Pompidou, in Paris, is a national event. The Centre Pompidou was quick to become a world icon, a symbol of France’s avant-garde spirit, supported by the French president Georges Pompidou, and known for its once contested architecture, designed by the Italian-British architectural duo, Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano. At the time, some compared the building to a supermarket… “All the better. People won’t be afraid of entering it,” Piano is said to have replied. “Pompidou wanted to reconcile France with the culture of his time, noting that while our country, under the influence of André Malraux, had turned to the arts with conviction, it experienced certain difficulties in taking in more recent innovations from contemporary creation,” observed the museum’s president from 1996 to 2002, Jean-Jacques Aillagon, to Le Figaro. Planted in a once working-class district, coming up with the museum plan, then building it, were real gambles, pulling along with it a few modern and contemporary art galleries, such as the very first one to set up in the area, Daniel Templon, at 30 Rue Beaubourg, in 1972, opposite the gaping hole that awaited the museum at the time. We should mention that on the international avant-garde scene – which was starting to globalise and meet strong competition –, Paris needed a museum to reshuffle the contemporary-art cards. Inaugurated in 1977 with an exhibition on Marcel Duchamp and curated by Jean Clair, the museum, directed by Pontus Hulten from Sweden at the time, put on one themed exhibition after...

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Cy Twombly, the painter of Olympus at the Centre Pompidou

Over 140 works including the painter’s three major cycles… The Cy Twombly retrospective on at the Musée National d’Art Moderne – Centre Pompidou is a key exhibition. Recommended (highly)! By a happy coincidence, the Cy Twombly exhibition was launched at the end of November 2016 while on the other side of the English Channel, an exhibition opened on Rauschenberg – the other “TW”, as Roland Barthes nicknamed him. The two lovers, the two companions, celebrated on the same day by the opening of two retrospectives. One at the Tate (London), the other at the Centre Pompidou (Paris). Robert Rauschenberg had a decisive impact on the career of Cy Twombly; he was the one who encouraged Twombly to enrol at the prestigious Black Mountain College (North Carolina) before the pair combed through Europe and North Africa together for the first time, in 1952. From Lexington to Rome This moment – this shift in the history of the young Twombly – is the starting point of the retrospective at the Centre Pompidou. Curator of the exhibition, Jonas Storsve explains: “This is the first complete retrospective to be dedicated to Cy Twombly, going from 1951 to his death in 2011.” The exhibition begins with the painter’s first experiments from the start of the 1950s, using viscous cream-white industrial paint hollowed by lead-pencil annotations – works that stand out for the economy of their means. During this period, Cy Twombly still lived in Lexington (Virginia), before he left for the Black Mountain College and the other side of the Atlantic. It was not until the end of the 1950s, or even the start of the 1960s, that colour appeared blatantly in Twombly’s work, as a result of his abandonment of industrial paint for less fluid coloured paints in tubes. “This was a very...

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Data: Cy Twombly, a new auction myth

Cy Twombly, arguably one of the most fashionable painters at the moment, is soon to be displayed the Centre Pompidou. At the same time, his market is doing particularly well. Especially since his death … Edwin Parker Twombly Jr. was born on 25 April 1928 in Lexington (Virginia). He started drawing and painting at an early age, soon under the tutelage of Pierre Daura from Spain. Between 1947 and 1949, he continued his learning by enrolling at the Boston Museum School, before moving on to study in the art department of the Washington and Lee University, in Lexington. At the Art Students League of New York (1950-1951), he met Knox Martin and Robert Rauschenberg, with whom he became close friends. The latter encouraged him to take on a stint at the Black Mountain College (North Carolina), where he made the acquaintance of Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, poet Charles Olson, John Cage and Merce Cunningham. This was the era of abstract expressionism; Cy Twombly visited the Kootz gallery (New York) where Pollock, Rothko, Newman, Still, and Motherwell were exhibited. He held his first solo exhibition at the Seven Stairs gallery (Chicago) in 1951, followed by a show at Kootz in the same year, displaying monotypes and black-pencil drawings evoking totemic or even phallic forms. In 1952, Cy Twombly crossed the Atlantic for the first time, travelling through Italy, Spain and North Africa accompanied by Robert Rauschenberg. The next year, he did his military service at Camp Gordon (Georgia), before being posted to Washington, D.C. as a cryptologist.  In 1957, he returned to Rome and began a period of intense activity, namely painting Olympia, Sunset, Blue Room and Arcadia, some of his best-known works. In his drawings, graffiti and scratches are visible, alongside letters, words and figures. Already at that time,...

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Data: Nothing surreal about the Magritte market

Omnipresent at the last FIAC and presently benefiting from institutional attention, René Magritte seems to be on a roll. A few figures help us see why. René-François-Ghislain Magritte was born on 21 November 1898 in Lessines, in the Hainaut province of Belgium. His parents — Léopold, a tailor-merchant and Régina, a milliner — settled in Gilly and encouraged the young Magritte to study painting. This was when he started frequenting the workshop of Félicien Defoin. In 1912, family troubles — economic difficulties and strife between the Magritte couple — took a toll on Regina and she threw herself into the Sambre River. In 1913, at the Charleroi Fair, Magritte met Georgette Berger. Magritte’s first known paintings, Impressionist in style, date from 1915. These productions coincided with his enrolment at the Académie des Beaux-arts in Brussels, where his teachers included Émile Van Damne-Sylva, Gisbert Combaz and Constant Montald. In 1918, the Magritte family moved to Brussels and the young painter started working as a poster designer — a first poster for Derbaix pot-au-feu was printed. He worked between 1919 and 1920 in the workshop of Pierre-Louis Flouquet, who introduced him to avant-garde movements: cubism, orphism and futurism. These various influences would be a source of inspiration for a time only. Freed from all military obligations, Magritte married Georgette Berger in June 1922, after being reunited with her by chance in the Brussels botanical gardens. He then worked as an illustrator, with painter Victor Servranckx, in the Peters-Lacroix wallpaper factory in Haren. With the latter, he wrote a manifesto, L’Art pur. Défense de l’esthétique, which was never published. In 1924, Magritte left the wallpaper factory and started taking on other jobs as a poster designer or illustrator. At the same time, things started to speed up. Magritte and Mesens drew closer...

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Clément Chéroux, the third eye

A specialist in the art of looking, Clément Chéroux is a curator at the Centre Pompidou, where he has been head of the photography department since 2013. His keen eye makes him a highly observant eyewitness of the images that now haunt our world. An eye-to-eye interview. “Ten years of photography acquisitions at the Centre Pompidou”… This is the gist of the exhibition organised by Clément Chéroux and Karolina Ziebinska-Lewandowska, to celebrate the 20th edition of Paris Photo: a selection of around one hundred works from the museum’s collections – one of the largest in Europe, comprising around 40,000 prints to date. Let’s note that this event is not just another exhibition on the genealogy of forms or the subversion of images; it is a major overview, almost a manifesto, illustrating the highlights over a century on which the photographic medium left its mark. Its title? “The Pencil of Culture”, in allusion to the book by William Henry Fox Talbot published in 1844, “The Pencil of Nature”. Another time, another paradigm… For Clément Chéroux, the image is well and truly a “marker of culture” today. Explanations follow. The exhibition borrows its title from the very first book on the history of photography, The Pencil of Nature by Talbot. What is the idea behind this title? When photography was invented and revealed to the public in 1839, its main aim could be summed up as reproducing reality faithfully and quickly. Hence Talbot’s title, seeing photography as “the pencil of nature”, a nature that prints itself on the sensitive plate without the artist adding any gestures to it. The quality of the image, the way Talbot saw it, came primarily from its truthful character. Today, over 170 years later, photography’s main quality can no longer be reduced to its capacity to...

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