Surprising though it may seem, heritage and contemporary art are perfect bedfellows. Cross-disciplinary projects are all the rage these days, and it’s not unusual to come across contemporary art displayed in a museum or heritage site. Playing on aesthetic contrasts and opposing styles, these pairings are often deliberately anachronistic. Contemporary artists are regularly invited to organise “happenings” at historic sites, often setting up surprising contrasts and providing an opportunity to discover familiar spaces in a new light.
The Louvre likes to confront current artists with old masters. So, Yan Pei-Ming, Richard Serra, Tony Cragg and Eva Jospin have been invited to exhibit at this temple for arts of Antiquity. In 2016, French street art star JR made Ieoh Ming Pei’s celebrated pyramid “vanish” by covering it with a gigantic photographic collage. Other artists, including Anselm Kiefer, François Morellet and Cy Twombly have made their artistic mark by producing décors especially for the museum.
The Musée de la chasse et de la nature (museum of hunting and nature) boasts contemporary installations such as 'La Nuit de Diane', by Jan Fabre, which highlight the permanent collections, and also organizes exhibitions of artists of today.
In 2011, the Monnaie de Paris launched 'MétaLmorphose' - a programme of contemporary art featuring the biggest names on the art scene today: Paul McCarthy, Marcel Broodthaers, Christian Boltanski et Hans Ulrich Obrist, Maurizio Cattelan…
Many national monuments provide a platform for contemporary artists, including JR at the Panthéon and Zevs at the Château de Vincennes. Laden with history, the Domaine national de Saint-Cloud will set the scene for "L’Homme Debout" - a sculpture series created by South Korean artist Chung Hyun - until 18 March 2017.
Since 2008, the Château de Versailles has also thrown open its gilded gates to contemporary art and every summer it invites top artists to display works around the royal estate. Guest artists have included Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, Xavier Veilhan, Anish Kapoor and, more recently, Olafur Eliasson.