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28 October 2015 / leggypeggy

France and Georges Pompidou helped me find a way to love modern art

Jean-Paul Goude's work

Jean-Paul Goude’s work with Grace Jones

I’ve never been a huge fan of modern art. It’s okay, but I don’t feel the need to rush out and see it. That all changed when I visited the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris.

Located in the Centre Georges Pompidou, it is Europe’s largest museum for modern art and it absolutely blew me away.

Room after room, piece after piece, I finally found a true love for modern art.

In reality, the love affair began when we were still waiting in the queue to go in. The building, which was commissioned by Georges Pompidou when he was president of France from 1969 to 1974, has its innards on the outers.

Chopin's Waterloo by Arman

Chopin’s Waterloo by Arman

Yeah, you read right. The centre has been built inside out. The plumbing, escalators, ducting, pipes, air vents, stairs and all the other normal guts of a building are on the outside.

That seems to work because there’s plenty of amazing stuff reserved for the inside. In addition to all the modern artworks, the 7-storey structure houses a public information library and a centre for music and acoustic research.

George Pompidou Centre walkway

George Pompidou Centre walkway

Anyway, we had plenty of time to admire the exterior. We chose to go on the first Sunday of the month when admission is free. The queue was long, but there were plenty of buskers (including a woman playing the didgeridoo) and ice cream sellers to help pass the time.

But in the end, we didn’t wait all that long. The only hold-up was to make sure everyone passed through the airport-style metal detector, where I think my underwire bra set off the alarm. Oops, sorry, too much information.

And then we were let lose to travel up the escalators to the roof to see the great views of the Eiffel Tower (in one direction) and Sacred Heart (Sacré-Coeur) Basilica of Montmartre (in another).

Then it was back to levels 4 and 5 where the modern artworks awaited.

One of the most riveting pieces was a video and collection of stills by Jean-Paul Goude. Singer Grace Jones features in these, and I have to admit that I watched the video through twice. Absolutely spellbinding. So many images, so many themes, so much to look at.

But there are so many other noteworthy pieces. I loved an unknown-to-me piece by Picasso, especially because a mum lifted up both her sons to show the piece to them.

And then there were the wooden chairs at the round table, wrapped globes, hanging glass and…and…and!

Just go if you get to Paris. You can bet I’ll go again when I return.

A bit about the Centre Georges Pompidou
First an embarrassing confession! I’ve been to Paris four times since the Pompidou Centre opened in 1977, and this is the first time I’ve ever gone inside. So I’m giving myself a huge kick up the bum for being so remiss.

Three main architects—Renzo Piano and Gianfranco Franchini of Italy, and Richard Rogers of Britain—designed the centre. They won a competition that was, for the first time ever, open to international architects.

Round table by Chen Zhen

Round table by Chen Zhen

Light fittings

Light fittings by Rehberger

Early reaction to the structure was negative. National Geographic called it ‘love at second sight’ and an Italian newspaper said Paris had created ‘its own monster’.

Today’s opinions are much kinder and more positive. That’s my opinion, but plenty more agree. When it was built, the centre expected to have 8000 visitors a day. In its first two decades, it had 145 million visitors, more than five times the predicted number.

And attendance continues to be on the increase.

So go if you ever get to Paris. Please go! And you’ll be surprised to know that it doesn’t seem crowded.


Leave a Comment
  1. psychologistmimi / Oct 28 2015 12:54 am

    I definitely want to go check it out now! thanks for sharing


  2. thegreyeye / Oct 28 2015 1:01 am

    Beautiful, we did not adore modern art too, but now I will visit here in future


  3. / Oct 28 2015 2:29 am

    Don’t you just love the Pompidou, Peggy? The first time I saw it several years ago I just couldn’t stop smiling. I haven’t seen the Jean-Paul Goude video – is it a new piece? ~Terri


    • leggypeggy / Oct 28 2015 11:04 am

      The video must be new. The still components have various dates, but I think the video is dated 2014.


  4. susan@marsha'sbungalow / Oct 28 2015 9:02 am

    A beautiful place to take your time. Love the photos of the young mom.


    • leggypeggy / Oct 28 2015 11:05 am

      The Pompidou deserves a lot of time—and a good mum to accompany you.


  5. milliethom / Oct 28 2015 9:33 am

    I can well see how that place changed your opinion of modern art. I’ve never been a fan of modern art, either, but your post and beautiful photos are very persuasive. I’m fascinated by your description of the outside, too.


  6. jakesprinter / Oct 28 2015 11:12 am

    Great photography my friend 🙂


  7. Andrew Petcher / Oct 28 2015 7:10 pm

    It is a fascinating place that’s for sure!


  8. Tthetraveler / Oct 28 2015 10:10 pm

    This piece was so worth the read


  9. / Oct 28 2015 11:10 pm

    I”m not really a fan of modern art either but you’ve convinced me to visit the Centre Georges Pompidou!


  10. Curious to the Max / Oct 29 2015 12:01 am

    Great post – love that the building is “inside out”. Next time Peggy, you might wear your underwire bra on the outside of your clothes . . .


    • leggypeggy / Oct 29 2015 2:41 pm

      That’s a brilliant suggestion! Don’t know why I didn’t think of it?


  11. Zambian Lady / Oct 29 2015 2:07 am

    That looks like an interesting museum. I will make sure to visit if I go to Paris again, but I hope the didgeridoo player will not be there 🙂


    • leggypeggy / Oct 29 2015 2:42 pm

      She was gone when we left. But the area always has a lot of buskers. There was even a ‘comedian’ speaking to a crowd.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Jane / Oct 29 2015 11:43 pm

    Looks very interesting, Peggy! I hope you get a chance to see it again one day. I never used to be thrilled by modern art but then I saw a few fascinating exhibitions and decided I just hadn’t seen the right kinds before. I appreciate it much more now. Thanks for sharing this great place. 🙂


    • leggypeggy / Oct 29 2015 11:46 pm

      I’d loved to visit again and see how the exhibitions change. And I agree, I think what we like often depends on what we’ve been exposed to.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. chattykerry / Oct 31 2015 11:42 am

    I love modern art and would love to visit. The museum of Modern Art in Madrid is fabulous. It is located in an old psychiatric hospital and that adds to the spooky vibe.


  14. Lynz Real Cooking / Oct 31 2015 11:52 am

    I never thought modern art was interesting at all! This is so cool! I loved the pictures of much of the art! I also think the building is amazing and unique! If I ever go I will sure go to this museum! thanks for the tour!


    • leggypeggy / Oct 31 2015 12:52 pm

      Thanks for joining me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lynz Real Cooking / Oct 31 2015 12:55 pm

        I loved the art, I guess I had my own ideas of what it would be like and it was much different!

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Oct 31 2015 1:18 pm

        I used to think most modern art was those paintings of all black or all blue. I don’t get that stuff.


  15. wineandhistory / Nov 1 2015 7:39 am

    I’ve never been a big fan of modern art either, although there are some pieces there that seem fascinating!


    • leggypeggy / Nov 1 2015 9:33 am

      I was overwhelmed by the styles and variety of the pieces. There was something for everyone to love.


  16. Curt Mekemson / Nov 1 2015 11:08 am

    It looks like great fun, Peggy. And what, pray tell is a didgeridoo? Also I wanted to apologize. Some times when I start typing before WP is ready for me, it wipes out a comment. I’ve never been able to find where they go. Anyway, I did it on one of your comments about Olompali. –Curt


  17. Galavanting Gran / Nov 6 2015 10:38 am

    I like this building and love the Museum. Recall seeing group of kindy children sitting attentively in front of a painting as it was being explained to them.


    • leggypeggy / Nov 6 2015 11:38 am

      It really is the kind of place where you want to sit and listen and learn.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. yeahanotherblogger / Nov 13 2015 2:22 am

    Once again, Peggy, you have written an article that makes me want to catch a flight to Gay Paree.


  19. christie jones / May 9 2017 10:53 pm

    Such an amazing place!! First we started laughing at some of the exhibits when visiting few years ago, but then we fall in love for this unique and wonderful museum! Happy travels Peggy!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Christy B / May 30 2017 10:29 am

    I have never been there but want to go now!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. leggypeggy / Oct 31 2015 11:29 am

    Thanks for the share.



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