Centre Pompidou – An Icon of 20th century architecture

The Centre Pompidou houses the biggest collection of moderne and contemporary art in Europe, and one of the finest in the world. Even the building itself is art, it’s building that is an icon of 20th century architecture. If the art isn’t enough there’s a wonderful view of Paris. 


Not far from our apartment is the Pompidou centre. We walked by it on our first big promenade around Paris. We had seen hideous cues, so today we have timed our arrival strategically. We are quite early and I get in the small cue while my love hunts down a breakfast for us. Returning from a nearby patissier with pane raisin and croissant. The idea of the takeaway paper cup of coffee does not seem to be a thing in Paris so it’s important if we don’t have time to stop in to a cafe for a sit down coffee that we hit up the nespresso machine, which seems to be a quintessential inclusion in the Paris apartment kitchen, before we leave home. We munch happily on delicious sweet buttery pastry while we wait for the Musee to open its doors and watch the cue grow ridiculously large behind us.


The Pompidou Centre is a fascinating piece of architecture so far removed from anything else in Paris. To me it kind of looks like it is still a construction site surrounded by scaffolding. The big pericope tubes surging up out of the concrete around it are so alien in the surrounding city scape of very old buildings. It seems to be a skeletal, mechanical monolith,  fascinating challenging and incongruous at the same time. Architecturally I’m not sure I like it. But then I also know, as a creative, that good work is not necessarily nice, or easy or palatable for everyone. In fact provocation can be as simple as generating the conversation of differing opinions.


Inside we find that the way between floors is via the big glassed in escalators on the side of the building. We go straight to the top, my love tells me there will be a magnificent view and we are not disappointed. The rooftops of Paris are spread wide below us, I visualise an artwork of simple shapes and tones. Grey triangle roofs dotted with orange tubular chimney pots.  I love it.


We wander through this modern art Centre. There is a whole section that is closed for rehanging so our viewing is a little limited but still fun. The current ‘exposition’ aside from the regular collection is a Jeff Koons exhibition. It is a large exhibition of mainly sculptural works that feel somehow commercial and contrived to me. Like a great big ad campaign. Interesting to see but not something that moved me.  


We explore further and find a few things that I really like. There was a fun installation that was a room with blue walls covered in chalk writing and drawings. They allowed only a few people in at once and those who entered were provided with chalk to add their personal touch to the work. I was so fascinated watching people adding to the graffiti that it was much later that I realised that I had missed the opportunity to put my own mark on the wall of a Paris Musee.


One of the pieces I really enjoy is a sculptural representation of Grace Jones expressing her powerful androgynous physical form. Overall the pompidou is fun, light hearted and enjoyable and we know we will have to come back when the full centre is open for viewing.