Modern Art at Centre Pompidou, Paris

We made a quick 3 day stop in Paris on our way to the Alps for our first try at skiing in Europe (pics coming soon). We visited a couple of our favorite places (we’ve eaten at La Rôtisserie d’en Face every time we’ve come to Paris since our honeymoon in 2001, always good food and such sentimental memories for us; and I love the silky camisoles at Bruce Field on Saint Germain).

We also visited a couple of new places (one new and one not, but both new for us): Musée National d’Art Moderne at Centre Pompidou, and the newly opened Fondation Louis Vuitton in Bois de Boulogne.

Centre Pompidou houses the Musée National d’Art Moderne, which is the largest museum for modern art in Europe. The museum has the second largest collection of modern and contemporary art in the world, after the Museum of Modern Art in New York, with more than 100,000 works of art by 6,400 artists from 90 countries.

We especially enjoyed two of the temporary exhibits at the museum, showcasing the works of Jeff Koons and Frank Gehry .

Love him (or his art) or hate him, Koons is a colorful artist. A few tidbits from Wiki:

  • On November 12, 2013, Koons’s Balloon Dog (Orange) sold at a Christie’s auction in New York City for $58.4 million, becoming the most expensive work by a living artist sold at auction.
  • He has a 16,000 sq ft studio (factory?) near the old Hudson rail yards in Chelsea, with 130 assistants. (see this great 7/2014 Vanity Fair article on Koons, his studio, his family, etc.)
  • In 1991, he married Hungarian-born naturalized-Italian pornography star Cicciolina (Ilona Staller) who also pursued an alternate career as a member of the Italian Parliament.

Frank Gehry has been called ‘the most important architect of our age’ and is probably best known for The Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain. For anyone not sure what they want to do when they enter college (or before, or after), Gehry’s story is inspiring. From Wiki: “According to Gehry, “I was a truck driver in L.A., going to City College, and I tried radio announcing, which I wasn’t very good at. I tried chemical engineering, which I wasn’t very good at and didn’t like, and then I remembered. You know, somehow I just started racking my brain about, “What do I like?” Where was I? What made me excited? And I remembered art, that I loved going to museums and I loved looking at paintings, loved listening to music. Those things came from my mother, who took me to concerts and museums. I remembered Grandma and the blocks (in his Grandfather’s hardware store), and just on a hunch, I tried some architecture classes.” Gehry graduated at the top of his class with a Bachelor of Architecture degree from USC in 1954.

It was fun to see some of Gehry’s buildings that we had visited in the past, and his design for the Fondation Louis Vuitton was stunning, so we decided to visit this new modern art museum, which just opened at the end of 2014 in the Bois de Boulogne. The building is fantastic. The art? Well, let’s just say it must have been too sophisticated for us!

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Balloon Dog (Magenta), 1994-2000, mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating, François Pinault Foundation. One of five versions (Blue, Magenta, Orange, Red, Yellow). The Orange version sold in 2013 for a record price for a living artist.
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Koons started creating sculptures using inflatable toys in the 1970s.
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According to Koons: What we’re looking at is a Three Ball 50/50 Tank from 1985. You know, the reason that I used a basketball over another object is really probably for the purity of it, that it’s an inflatable, it relates to our human experience of to be alive we have to breathe. If the ball would be deflated, it would be a symbol of death. But it’s inflated, so it’s a symbol of life.
The balls always remain exactly 50 percent submerged below the water line, but due to vibration in the room it will move the balls either to the left or right. And that’s one of the really wonderful, beautiful, chaotic aspects of the tank.
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“DR Dunkenstein,” 1982, in which the now retired basketball star Darrell Griffith holds a steaming, severed basketball.
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The New, a series of vacuum-cleaners, often selected for brand names that appealed to the artist. Koons first exhibited these pieces in the window of the New Museum in New York in 1980.
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Haha, now I know why Mark loves Hennessy!
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“Michael Jackson and Bubbles,” 1988.
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“Made in Heaven,” 1989, is just one in a series of pornographic images of Koons and his ex-wife, Ilona Staller.
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The stainless steel “Hanging Heart” looks light as air on its ribbons, but actually weighs more than 3,000 pounds.
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“Hulk (organ),” 2004-2014. This is a functional organ, although visitors are not allowed to touch it.
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‘Pluto and Proserpina,’ 2010-2013.
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“Gazing Ball (hercules),” 2013.
And my favorite hunk (no, not Popeye).
And my favorite hunk (I like Popeye too).
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The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain (been there!).
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Dancing House in Prague (been there!).
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Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago (been there!).
Facebook HQ, scheduled to open this year.
Facebook HQ, scheduled to open this year.
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Model of La Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris.
La Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris (hadn't been there, now we have)
La Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris (hadn’t been there, but now we have). Love this building.


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