“Serge Lasvignes”

Museum in a Garage

Already the seat of the European Union, will Brussels soon be the new hub for contemporary art? In any case, it’s what Rudi Vervoort, patron of the Brussels-Capital region, has in mind. At the heart of the project is the iconic Citroën garage on Place de l’Yser. So what are the returns on this crazy bet?   There’s no longer any doubt that with the big – and rather extravagant-opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, last November, France has not quite finished establishing its cultural expertise and influence abroad. It is also clear that within the art world, the Centre Georges-Pompidou is truly enjoying the wind in its sails. After the success of its Iberian pop-up, which ran for five years in the Andalusian city of Malaga, the Parisian museum institution has surfed a wave of recognition and new partnerships, moving into Shanghai as soon as 2019, with Brussels on the horizon in 2020-2021. Nestled in the heart of the Belgian capital, at the crossroads between Place de l’Yser and the Quai de Willebroeck, the iconic Citroën garage has been chosen to become the future cultural and artistic hub of the “flat country”. Located on the edge of the canal, just a stone’s throw from Place Sainctelette, the garage was erected in 1933 following plans drawn up by André Citroën himself, who had ambitions to create the biggest car factory in Europe. The lovely glass palace, 21 meters tall, is characterized by a curved curtain façade, all built on 2 hectares of land. It would be nearly a century before the fate of the site changed course. In October 2015, the land was bought by the Society of Urban Planning (SAU), a real estate concern of the Brussels-Capital region, for €20.5 million, with the intention of making it the...

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The Centre Pompidou signs a memorandum with Brussels

The Centre Pompidou has recently set up a partnership with the city of Brussels, with the aim of opening a new museum for modern and contemporary art by 2020. Serge Lasvignes, president of the Centre Pompidou, and Rudi Vervoort, president of the Brussels-Capital region, signed a memorandum last week to define their project for establishing the museum in an old building once occupied by Citroën, now destined to become a culture incubator. The Centre Pompidou will be loaning works from its collection, advising the new institution on acquisition strategies, and collaborating with it on programming. The first exhibition of the new museum, expected to draw between 100,000 and one million visitors, is scheduled for 2018. The architecture competition for renovating the Brussels building will be launched at the end of the year. No name has been chosen as yet for the museum, located to the northwest of the city centre, not far from the Molenbeek Canal. The idea for this museum dates back to 2013, with the Belgian government buying this Art Deco garage measuring 15,793 m2 for $23 million in...

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Serge Lasvignes’ Plans for the Centre Pompidou

Having headed up the illustrious Parisian museum for six months now, the new director Serge Lasvignes has unveiled his plans for the future of the institution at his first press conference. The government ex general secretary took over the post on 4 March 2015 from Alain Seban. Serge Lasvignes is looking to highlight the diversity and the varied disciplines of the institution, as can be seen in the programme of up-and-coming exhibitions. His priorities while at the helm are to remain faithful to the principals that founded the centre: a policy of cultural equality and the promotion of young talent. The museum has a duty to be accessible to all and attractive to private collectors, those who are not interested in contemporary design. This has to be done through mediation and giving the voice to the party with greatest vested interest; the artists themselves. A space of 400m² will be entirely dedicated to them, and will sit by the exit from the permanent exhibitions on the 4th floor for maximum visibility. He also wants the museum to act as a key to unlock the door to international art and is going to invite artists from emerging countries to exhibit their work a year from now at the Centre Pompidou. A restoration of the square in front of the museum is also in the pipeline, as a way of re-energising the Centre Pompidou. If it was in the 70s that the social role of the museum really came to the forefront, it was the 90s, primarily the States that brought the tradition of the museum as a ‘forum’ to integrate the population, as a space for discussion and debate, as Serge Lasvignes again wishes it to be. The museum’s website will also improve in its accessibility and its visibility on...

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Serge Lasvignes to head Centre Pompidou

Serge Lasvignes, secretary general of the French government, has been named as the new head of Paris’ Centre Pompidou by the French council of ministers on Wednesday 4 March. He is to replace outgoing head Alain Seban. According to Les Échos, the decision was made behind closed doors by high-ranking government officials, with members of the art world notably absent from proceedings. The paper reports that the position of secretary general will be reserved for another high-ranking government minister, most likely Marc Guillaume. A number of figures in the art world are reported to be unhappy with the choice, claiming that Lasvignes, lacking the necessary enthusiasm for contemporary art, will be poorly suited to his new role. A government spokesperson, Stéphane Le Foll, has announced that the president François Hollande “has praised Lasvignes’ excellent work” adding that “his qualities will be put to good use at the Centre Pompidou.” The Centre Pompidou is amongst the world’s most important museums of modern and contemporary art. With a budget of close to €130 million, the institution welcomes around 3.5 million visitors each year. Alain Seban, former director of the museum, focused on raising its international profile. 61-year-old Lasvignes was secretary general of the government under Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy, and François Hollande, and has never before held a position of responsibility in the culture...

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