Known to Parisians simply as Beaubourg (after the neighborhood), The Centre National d’Art et de Culture Georges-Pompidou is a museum of modern art rivaling the best in New York or London.
By design, so to speak, the architecture of the 1977 building is in sharp contrast to the traditional surrounding houses of Paris’ oldest district.
Looking like a cross between a hyper-modern factory joined to a low-rise office building, it accurately reflects its contents. The red, blue and green pipes on the rear are only one example of the tradition busting goals of its makers.
Air conditioning ducts are in blue, water pipes are green and electrical conduits are colored yellow. Escalators are in red and the ventilation shafts are white in the underground areas.
The architects goals were to ‘turn the building inside out’, and they’ve largely succeeded. A low glass box that looks like the scaffolding is yet to be removed, the modern heir to Bauhaus displays air-conditioning ducts and metal stairs on the exterior.
All the better to provide space for works on the interior, so it’s said.
Sponsored by and named after the French president, the museum is a faithful reflection of the art trends of the last century. Every recognized name of the last hundred years is here alongside hundreds lesser or entirely unknown. Among the collection of 56,000 works are well-known names such as Matisse, Pollock, Miro, Braque, Chagall, Dali, Duchamp, Picasso, Kandinsky, Magritte, Klee… even Kelly and Warhol.
The Ten Lizes Warhol is not to be missed. An array of five small paintings atop another five, the work depicts Elizabeth Taylor in the now-familiar Warhol style. Multi-hued, multi-contrast and sharp-grained it presents Warhol at his Warholyist.
All the art movements of the last century are represented. There are examples of Fauvism, Cubism, Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism along with many that have no names.
Built at a cost of $100 million, the cultural center houses four major activities within its million square feet: the exhibits, a reference library, a center for industrial design and a center for music and acoustic research.
Ride the Plexiglas escalator to the top where there is a panoramic restaurant, ‘Le Georges’ at level six. One can sit and look out on the street performers at the Place George Pompidou in front, or view the nearby Stravinsky Fountain.
Pricey, but with good views of the skyline, the visitor can see Montparnasse, the Eiffel Tower and much more. Rest and refresh before continuing to view the massive collection.
The museum is easy to find. Take the metro (subway) to Rambuteau or Hotel de Ville.