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 2017, the great ‘MétaLmorphose’ of the Monnaie de Paris was brought to fruition. The aim of the redevelopment and renovation of the site was to create a rich centre for culture in the city. Now this institution, the oldest in France, has a vibrant programme of contemporary art and events with the biggest names in art today such as Paul McCarthy, Marcel Broodthaers, Christian Boltanski and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Maurizio Cattelan … and takes part in key events on the Parisian art scene like Nuit Blanche (All nighter) and the Fête de la Musique.
Many national monuments provide a platform for contemporary artists : JR at the Panthéon, Zevs at the Château de Vincennes, Chung Hyun at the Domaine national de Saint-Cloud... The Palace of Versailles is also a key place for contemporary art; every year, it hosts works by major artists: Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, Xavier Veilhan, Anish Kapoor, Olafur Eliasson, Hiroshi Sugimoto…