Centre Pompidou: timeless modern art

President Pompidou was not only an art lover, but a firm believer that art is for everyone. That art is ageless. So it’s no wonder that his vision of a center for art and culture in France’s capital houses one of the most extensive collections in the world.

Architecture heaven

Begun in 1972 and completed in 1977, sadly after the president’s death, the Centre Pompidou is an institution of modern culture. Iconic for its exhibitions of modern and contemporary art, it’s also an architectural masterpiece in its own right: its colorful structure proudly dominates the Parisien panorama. Climb the caterpillar, the huge mechanical escalator scaling the side of the building, and look out over major monuments of the city. Quelle vue magnifique!

The building was designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers to be a living organism, a heart connected by monumental arteries. Bold primary colors breathe life. Located in the Beaubourg plateau in the 4th arrondissement, the venue lies in one of the oldest quarters of the city: past and present culture is connected in the hearts and minds of the public.

Often referred to as an ‘inside out’ building, once you step from the vast Roman-inspired piazza into the Forum, you find yourself immersed in an immense, 10m high multi-purpose space. From here, the building flows into a variety of spaces for a variety of uses. 6 different levels house over 100,000 works: Chagall, Matisse, Kahlo, Kandinsky and Picasso to name but a few. Is that enough to tempt your palette?

Pompidou wanted a cross-disciplinary center, and that’s exactly what he achieved. Plastic arts, photography, drawing, books, design, architecture, music, and cinema all come to life alongside extensive exhibitions of collections from the 20th and 21st Centuries. There’s a library, an acoustic research center, and the National Modern Art Museum, often referred to as the European MOMA.

Unforgettable exhibits

Along with the permanent collections, there are often temporary exhibitions on display. Avoid lost time in the queue and lose yourself in the culture instead, with a ticket bought in advance. You’ll get full access to the long-term works as well as the pieces passing through.

Currently on show from September 8, 2021 to December 6, 2021 is the magnificent modernism of Georgia O’Keefe. Although temporary, there’s nothing lacking in this exhibition; it boasts a full review of the 20th Century North American’s artistic career. With drawings, paintings and photographs totaling around a hundred pieces, you’ll chart her journey from the beginnings of American modernism to pioneering abstract painting.
Crossing over with this from October 20, 2021 to March 7, 2022, is the first comprehensive exhibition of Georg Baselitz at the Centre Pompidou. ‘Baselitz – La rétrospective’ chronicles the last sixty years of the German artist’s masterpieces. Unclassifiable in terms of his style, Baselitz moves between figuration, the abstract and conceptual works in his career. What his paintings share, however, is the powerful imagination he has; he tries to break away from orders and embrace questioning (influenced heavily by his childhood and youth growing up in post-war Germany).

For budding artists

And for the younger artists out there? La Galerie des Enfants is a space specifically for our mini Monets and compact Kahlos. On display from September 25, 2021 until May 9, 2022 is Jean-Charles de Castelbajac’s exhibition-workshop, ‘Le peuple de demain’ (The People of Tomorrow). Designed to introduce the next generation to his colorful and poetic artistic world, it’s aimed at children aged 4 and above. And don’t forget the young at heart! For once in an art gallery, kids are free to ‘look with their hands’ not just their eyes. Nine activities designed by the artist will transport them into a world of bright images. Talk about living life in color.

Have you been before? What’s your favourite exhibition on show? Let us know in the comments below.

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