The Centre Pompidou celebrates its 40th anniversary!

February 14, 2017 | By French Culture Arts

Read an interview of Serge Lasvignes, President of the Centre Pompidou, on the occasion of its 40th anniversary.

Why celebrate this 40th anniversary: what is its significance?

40 is the age of mastery and action: a splendid age, because it means being truly open to what is going on, and being able to share the experience and strength acquired. The Centre Pompidou has built up one of the largest collections of modern and contemporary art in the world, presented 325 exhibitions, and organised performances, conferences, debates and festivals. With this anniversary, I was not aiming for a self-celebration, but to make it a decentralised event – a festival of artistic creation throughout France, with all the institutions that are our friends and share our ambitions, and make up France’s extraordinarily precious cultural network. This shared anniversary is a way of reaching out, not only to those who have always loved and helped the Centre Pompidou, but to new audiences as well.

What are some of the iconic projects of this "decentralised" anniversary?

The originality of the Centre Pompidou’s 40th anniversary lies in the wide range of events presented to the public throughout France, in partnership with museums, art centres, festivals and performance halls. There is something for everyone: the visual arts, architecture, design, dance, contemporary music, theatre and performance. Audiences have plenty to choose from!
The spirit of the 40th anniversary is to encourage people to discover or rediscover the wealth and diversity of the Centre Pompidou collections and the many different facets of art today, through collaborations with regional cultural institutions. For example, the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rennes wanted to exhibit Belgian video artist David Claerbout’s installation “Bordeaux Piece”, a 13-hour work that has never been shown in France. Other exhibitions based on the collection will take a fresh look at various periods in art history: post-war abstraction in Paris (“Le geste et la matière” at the Fondation Clément in Martinique); megastructures – an architectural concept illustrated by the architecture of the Centre Pompidou, designed by Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano (“Mégastructures” at the Lieu Unique in Nantes); the Colourists, a movement little-known to most people, halfway between design and architecture, of which the Centre Pompidou has a large collection (“Eloge de la couleur” at La Piscine in Roubaix), and the perception of colour in ceramics (“L’expérience de la couleur” at the Cité de la Céramique in Sèvres). This program will activate France’s artistic network in every region, from the Eli Lotar retrospective at the Jeu de Paume to the one dedicated to Claude Closky at the Centre des Livres d’Artistes in Saint-Yrieix-la-Perche. Lastly, with performing arts, the anniversary focuses on the historic links with various locations and the support given to artists. For example, the choreographer Alain Buffard, who is no longer with us, was supported throughout his career by the Centre Pompidou, Les Subsistances in Lyon and the Théâtre de Nîmes. 2017 will therefore be an opportunity to revive one of his creations in partnership with these two institutions. Fanny de Chaillé, who works with theatre, dance and performance alike, is presenting her third creation at the Centre Pompidou, and in Bordeaux, Montpellier and Toulouse. It’s also important to use the anniversary as an occasion to write new chapters of history, and forge relationships with emerging artists, like the dancers and
choreographers I-Fang Lin and Volmir Cordeiro.

And in 40 years' time, how do you see the Centre Pompidou developing - what are the challenges awaiting it?

Forty years is too far ahead. We need to meet the challenges here and now, and be able to grasp new forms of modernity. It’s a polycentric world, where we need to explore the new art scenes that are developing, and play our part as well. There are new creative approaches, building endless bridges between art, science and technology. Audiences presented with a many-faceted offer have new expectations, and now seek a more individualised, participatory relationship. We have a burning obligation to move closer to the “other public” – people who do not come spontaneously, who are intimidated by contemporary art. And more generally, we must try not to lose any of the Centre Pompidou’s originality or ability to surprise and move people, while giving them keys to understanding art, an dialoguing with audiences so that we can write the history of modernity together. Lastly, the Centre needs to remain a subtle sensor of an art in a constant state of reinvention, with all its visual, musical and choreographic aspects.

This interview was realized in French by the Centre Pompidou and posted on the website created on the occasion of its 40th anniversary.

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