Paris has a new showcase for contemporary art. In fact, the place is so fresh it's not even in the guidebooks yet.
Opening Saturday, May 22, the Bourse de Commerce–Pinault Collection houses a vast trove of paintings, sculptures, videos, photographs, audio works, installations, and other art from the 1960s to the present.
The new museum occupies a historic domed building that started out as a commodities exchange near Les Halles in the heart of the French capital. With the Louvre to the southwest and the Centre Pompidou to the southeast, the Bourse de Commerce now stands as the northern point in a triangle of big complexes dedicated to exhibiting several centuries' worth of creative expression.
(Bourse de Commerce — Pinault Collection © Tadao Ando Architect & Associates, Niney et Marca Architectes, Agence Pierre-Antoine Gatier/Photo Vladimir Partalo)
The 10,000 or so items in the Bourse de Commerce collection were amassed over the years by French billionaire François Pinault. He has been trying to find a home for his unique hoard for two decades.
When earlier plans to construct a glass-and-concrete museum on an island in the Seine fell apart due to legal wrangling, Pinault took his treasures to Venice, where he teamed up with Japanese architect Tadao Ando to turn a Grand Canal palace (the Palazzo Grassi in 2006) and an old customs house (the Punta della Dogana in 2009) into galleries.
Ando has also spearheaded the makeover of the Parisian stock exchange (to the tune of $195 million, according to Forbes).
The architect has retained essential features of the building, such as the huge murals wrapping around the rotunda under the glass dome, while thoroughly reimagining the space as a minimalist canvas of pale, cylindrical concrete. The idea seems to be to find a balance between old and new that doesn't jar or upstage the art.
(Bourse de Commerce — Pinault Collection © Tadao Ando Architect & Associates, Niney et Marca Architectes, Agence Pierre-Antoine Gatier/Photo Patrick Tourneboeuf)
The curatorial philosophy is not similarly balanced: Everything comes from recent decades. Among the 400 artists represented in the collection, many rank among the best in the field, including David Hammons, Cindy Sherman, Kerry James Marshall, and many more.
Works on display in the 10 exhibition galleries will change regularly. Among the standouts in the opening show: Urs Fischer's Untitled, a replica of Giambologna's sculpture Abduction of a Sabine Woman from the 1580s.
The difference is that Fischer's version is a 13-foot-tall candle. Made out of wax, the sculpture will be lit on the museum's opening day and will continue to burn for the next six months.
(Urs Fischer, Untitled (2011) ©Urs Fischer. Courtesy Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich/Photo by Stefan Altenburger/Bourse de Commerce — Pinault Collection ©Tadao Ando Architect &Associates, Niney et Marca Architectes, Agence Pierre-Antoine Gatier)
Galleries take up the building's first, second, and third floors. The top story will have a restaurant.
Dated tickets, which should be purchased in advance online, are €14 ($17) for general admission, €10 ($12) for visitors ages 18–26, and free for kids ages 18 and younger.
Visit the museum's website for more information.