Starting on 27 May 2015, the Centre Pompidou is exhibiting a new presentation of its modern collection from 1905 to 1965, with a circuit featuring major milestones in the collection together with exhibition-dossiers (renewed every six months). The first stage in a major refurbishment project, this presentation now invites visitors to enter the museum via level 5 of the building,
and explore the history of art from the modern to the contemporary periodes.
« A new presentation of the museum’s modern collection is always an event, which highlights the importance and incomparable diversity of the Centre Pompidou’s well-stocked collection,» says the institution’s chairman, Serge Lasvignes. We have decided to focus on the major landmarks in the history of modern art from 1905 to the 1960s, and its significant turning points. Visitors will thus have all the keys to understanding how the spark of modernity appeared and set alight the entire world of art in the first half of the 20th century.»
A presentation highlighting great milestones in the collection
Educational and informative in its very conception, intended to communicate to the widest public the elements indispensable for an understanding, the new hang retraces the history of modern art as it is reflected in the iconic ensembles held by the Centre Pompidou. Organised in a number of major sequences, it begins with 1905 and ends on 1965.
Set along the visitor’s path through the new hang are a series of “dossier displays”, of varying format but on a single theme, that will enrich the experience of the visit, sharing the pedagogical ambitions of the main display but offering a more intensive and specialised approach.
The new hang of the modern collection takes advantage of a space reorganised so as to offer optimal clarity. Visitors now enter the Museum via Level 5 and follow the course of art history from the modern to the contemporary on Level 4, where a new hang of the Centre’s contemporary collections in Spring 2016 will follow on directly, establishing an unambiguous historical continuity between the two floors. Certain rooms on Level 5 have been reconfigured to ensure a more fluid circulation of visitors and a stronger sense of a distinct space. The new hang also sees the installation within the exhibition of a visitor study space.
A hang organised around major ensembles
Among the forty different rooms, the great, landmark ensembles in the Centre Pompidou’s collection as ever form the backbone, highlighting the achievements of artists and movements of inescapable importance. Organised in a number of major sequences, the display opens with Fauvism and Henri Matisse and gradually works its way to Sixties Abstraction, where the art begins to verge upon the contemporary in its concerns.
On either side of each of these major sequences, interpolations in the main narrative offering different perspectives, spaces have been devoted to more idiosyncratic but nonetheless crucial artists and movements. Thus, for the first time in the history of the Museum, a whole room has been devoted to Lettrism, a key avant-garde movement in post-war Paris, while not very far away one will find the structural elements of Jean Prouvé’s prefabricated buildings.
Architect Gae Aulenti’s ‘street’ still acts as a central visual axis, along which are placed key works from the collection, from Francis Picabia to Frank Stella, interacting with an architecture now more open to the exterior, the outside terraces that overlook the city regaining importance with the alterations that coincided with the rehanging.
A major innovation introduced with this new hang, intended to offer the opportunity for closer study, these displays are left to the initiative and imagination of departmental staff and their eventual academic partners. Punctuating the principal narrative, each will offer a contribution on a common theme. Changing every six months, they will bring a new vitality to the display of the collection.
A room for ad hoc exhibitions
A space of 120 square metres has been set aside at a key location – the point of transition between the modern and contemporary collections – to house the Museum’s programme of short-term displays (usually of some 2 months duration) paying special tribute to individual artists or taking a closer look at works of particular contemporary interest.
Cover photo credits: MAN RAY, Marcel Duchamp, Obligation pour la Roulette de Monte-Carlo, 1924, Photographie, 8.9 x 11.9 cm, Dation en 1994, Collection Centre Pompidou, musée national d’art moderne, © Man Ray Trust / Adagp, Paris 2015