Pompidou Centre
History, Arts Collection of French National Museum of Modern Art (Musee National d'Art Moderne).

Portrait of Oscar Miestschaninoff (1923)
By Chaim Soutine (1893-1943).
One of the many masterpieces in the
Georges Pompidou Centre, one of the
best galleries of contemporary art in
the world.

See: Best Art Museums.

Georges Pompidou Centre, Paris

Celebrated for its frank industrial aesthetic (in structure and materials) marked by its unique free-spanning architecture, The Pompidou Centre (full name: "Centre National d'Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou") - designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, and built 1971-77 - is a civic cultural institution which stands in the Beaubourg area of the 4th arrondissement of Paris, near Les Halles. One of the top art museums in Europe, it houses the avant-garde French National Museum of Modern Art (Musee National d'Art Moderne) which is the biggest museum of modern art (1905-60) and contemporary art (1960-on) in Europe. Its name commemorates the former President of France (1969-1974). The centre receives some 6 million visitors per year, and remains one of the most iconic architectural achievements of the 20th century, for having revolutionized the old-fashioned design of the typical elitist art museum. In keeping with its cutting-edge architecture, the Pompidou Centre achieved notoriety in March 2009, with its exhibition entitled The Specialisation of Sensibility in the Raw Material State into Stabilised Pictorial Sensibility. In a weird replay of the completely silent piece of "musical" conceptual art entitled "4.33", by John Cage (1912-92), the exhibition featured nine completely empty rooms.

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National Museum of Modern Art

The Musee National d'Art Moderne was founded in 1947, when it was housed in the Palais de Tokyo. It relocated to the Pompidou Centre in 1977. The museum's permanent collection of 60,000 works is the largest holding of modern and contemporary art in the world, after the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.

The collection includes some of the greatest 20th century paintings, plus architectural designs, photography, cinema, new media, and sculpture. A selection of these works are displayed on two floors of the Pompidou Centre: one floor is devoted to modern art (c.1905-1960), the other to contemporary art (1960-present). In addition, temporary exhibitions of modern and contemporary art - such as the seminal exhibition of feminist art, "Elles" (2009-2011) - are regularly staged on a third floor of the Centre.

Before visiting the National
Museum of Modern Art, in
the Pompidou Centre Paris, see
Art Evaluation: How to Appreciate Art.

Modern Art (1905-1960) at the Pompidou Centre

The Museum's permanent collection of modernist works features exemplars of all major modern art movements, including: Fauvism, Expressionism, Die Brucke, Der Blaue Reiter, Futurism, Cubism, Rayonism, Suprematism, Constructivism, Dada, Bauhaus Design, Surrealism, Orphism, Abstract art, Metaphysical Painting, Magic Realism, Die Neue Sachlichkeit, and Abstract Expressionism. Notable works include several replicas of "readymades" - the series of "found objects" created by Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968).

Modernist painters represented include: Constantin Brancusi, Alexander Calder, Umberto Boccioni and Alberto Giacometti, Henri Matisse, Andre Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck, Le Douanier Rousseau, Paul Signac, Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso, Fernand Leger, Juan Gris, Kurt Schwitters, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Alexei von Jawlensky, Emil Nolde, Oskar Kokoschka, Otto Dix, George Grosz, Marcel Duchamp, Giacomo Balla, Gino Severini, Marc Chagall, Mikhail Larionov, Natalia Goncharova, Alexander Rodchenko, Piet Mondrian, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Kasimir Malevich, Robert Delaunay, Georges Rouault, Balthus, Max Beckmann, Chaim Soutine, Marc Chagall, Modigliani, Jean Arp, Giorgio de Chirico, André Breton, Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte, Max Ernst, Joan Miro, Andre Masson, Jean Tinguely, Yves Klein, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, Francis Bacon, and many others.

Contemporary Art (1960-present) at the Pompidou Centre

The museum's permanent collection of contemporary works illustrates contemporary art movements such as Op-Art, Pop Art, Nouveau Realisme (founded by Yves Klein), Art Brut, Conceptual art, and Minimalism as well as several other tendencies and mini-styles. Featured artists include sculptors like Arman (Armand Fernandez), Cesar, Niki de Saint-Phalle, and Joseph Beuys, assemblage artists like Jean Dubuffet and Louise Bourgeois, printmakers like Andy Warhol, installation artists like Christian Boltanski, and painters such as Victor Vasarely and Robert Rauschenberg, among many others. Other contemporary artists whose works have been shown at the Pompidou Centre include contemporary photographers like Diane Arbus (1923-1971), Garry Winogrand (1928-84), Ed Ruscha (b.1937), Nan Goldin (b.1953) and Cindy Sherman (b.1954), as well as photojournalists like Larry Burrows (1926-1971), Don McCullin (b.1935), James Nachtwey (b.1948) and Steve McCurry (b.1950).

See also our article: How To Appreciate Paintings.

Pompidou Metz

The Northern French city of Metz has recently become home to a branch of the museum, called the Pompidou Metz. By extending the Pompidou Centre brand in this way, French art authorities hope to emulate the success of the Bilbao and Venice branches of the Samuel R Guggenheim museum in New York. The Metz Pompidou will showcase both modern and contemporary art, from the 20th and 21st-century, displayed in a series of rotating art exhibitions. It is estimated that the opening of the new Pompidou museum will increase visitor numbers by 400,000 visitors a year.

For other exhibitions of works by postmodernist artists, please see: Best Contemporary Art Festivals.

Contact Details

Centre National d'Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou
Rue Beaubourg, Paris, France
33 (1) 44 78 49 87

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