Pushing art boundaries in Greater Paris

The city’s contemporary art map has been redrawn in recent years and now extends far from the city centre.

From east to west and north to south, contemporary art is shooting out in every direction! “Greater Paris” is buzzing with cultural and artistic activities. Be prepared for new discoveries, surprises, emotion and enthrallment at the no-holds-barred exhibitions and art centres with specialist programmes that everyone can enjoy. It’s a great chance to knock on the door of artists’ collectives or admire magnificent works in situ – most of which you probably never knew existed. There are so many new places to discover in Greater Paris!

Central Paris: the historic heart of contemporary art

Fondation Louis Vuitton, vue panoramique 2, Paris © Iwan Baan Eberle for Fondation Louis Vuitton - 2014

The centre of Paris is home to several must-see contemporary art venues. From museums to foundations, galleries, art centres and exhibition spaces, Paris is a dazzling showcase for this multifaceted contemporary art scene.

Among its many museums, don’t miss the Centre Pompidou, at the heart of the capital and, further west, the Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris, whose permanent collections and major temporary exhibitions offer an ideal way to discover the best in 21st century art. Since 2002, Europe’s biggest contemporary art centre, the Palais de Tokyo, has explored every aspect of the contemporary creative scene from sculpture, painting and design to fashion, video and cinema. Foundations such as the Fondation Louis Vuitton and the Fondation Cartier also cut a dashing figure in the city’s artistic landscape. The capital is also home to some wonderful exhibition spaces, including the Grand Palais(closed until 2024, the public is invited to the Grand Palais Ephémère) and the Jeu de Paume, devoted to photography and the image.

Throughout the year, the Paris art calendar is filled with major international events, including FIAC (International Contemporary Art Fair), mais aussi Art Paris Art Fair, Paris Photo, Monumenta, as well as Nuit Blanche which transforms the City of Light into a giant playground (and testing ground!) for contemporary artists for one night only.

Creativity goes west

Sèvres - Cité de la céramique, vue de l'atelier de grand coulage, Paris © Patrick Tourneboeuf - Sèvres - Cité de la céramique

Galleries, museums and foundations in the west of Paris provide a perfect showcase for contemporary art, making it an ideal destination for anyone interested in current creative trends. Start in La Défense with a stroll around the biggest French contemporary open-air art museum - the Paris La Défense Art Collection – and its eclectic mix of 69 works of art, where great names in modern art (Miro, Calder, and the like) rub shoulders with contemporary artists such as François Morellet, Richard Serra and Jean-Pierre Raynaud. To keep abreast of the latest trends, visit one of the many art centres in the west of Paris: the Galerie Édouard-Manet in Gennevilliers, Le Cube in Issy-les-Moulineaux, the Centre d’Art Contemporain Chanot (CACC) in Clamart, La Terrasse in Nanterre, La Maison des Arts in Malakoff, among others.

In Sèvres, the Cité de la Céramique, internationally-renowned for its stunning collections of ceramics dating from antiquity to the present day, also has its gaze turned towards the future, and regularly plays host to contemporary art exhibitions. Situated on the fringes of Clamart forest, La Fondation Arp is a world apart. On this secluded and unique site, sculptures by Jean Arp and Sophie Taeuber share the stage with works by contemporary artists. For a surprising artistic experience, don’t miss the Mastaba 1 by Jean-Pierre Raynaud at La Garenne-Colombes. It’s not easy to describe this unusual space, which is an artist’s home, unique work of art and museum all rolled into one. Built in 1986, it is the brainchild of Jean-Pierre Raynaud, one of France’s greatest visual artists. Raynaud created the famous Golden pot that stood proudly outside the Centre Pompidou for over ten years, before being transferred to the 6th floor terrace. You missed it? No problem! You can see a red version of this monumental sculpture at Mastaba 1.

North-east art feast

Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Alex Katz, RDC, Paris © Andrew Phelps

Another hub of artistic activity, the north east of Paris is home to some of the best contemporary art galleries, exhibition spaces, art centres and artists’ residences in the Ile-de-France region. Several leading art spaces have put down roots in this arrondissement, including the Plateau (19th) in 2002 and Centquatre (19th) in 2008. An artistic melting pot, the world’s biggest galleries and art dealers have also taken the north-east road in recent years: in 2012, the Galerie Thaddeus Ropac moved to a former coppersmith’s workshop in Pantin, a town named the “new Brooklyn" by US daily The New York Times. Larry Gagosian opened his second gallery at Le Bourget the same year.

Several contemporary art centres are located in the surrounding arrondissement, including La Galerie in Noisy-le-Sec, Le 116 in Montreuil, and Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers. They are united by the goal of bringing contemporary art and design to a wider audience. Other spaces take a more multidisciplinary approach, including La Maison Populaire in Montreuil, and Mains d’Œuvres in Saint-Ouen. On the margins of the classic art circuit, the creative arts pop up in the most unlikely places. Free-spirited hybrid spaces that blur the line between cultural institutions and artist’s squats, they experiment with new contemporary artistic forms. Among the best know is 6B, a space where art is created and displayed in a former office building in Saint-Denis. Le Shakirail and Villa Belleville, in the 18th and 20th arrondissements, provide studio and exhibition space for artists, while La Briche in Saint-Denis and the Villa Mais d’Ici in Aubervilliers run experimental contemporary art projects, often in partnership with local residents, like Les Jardins d’Alice in Montreuil, and La Halle Papin in Pantin.

The north and east of Paris combine past and present with displays of contemporary art where you least expect it. For example, Musée d’Art et d’Histoire de Saint-Denis hosts contemporary art exhibitions, including in its Chapelle Vidéo. At the Archives nationales in Pierrefitte-sur-Seine you can also admire contemporary works by Antony Gormley, Susanna Fritscher and Pascal Convert, produced as part of the “1 % artistique” project.

 More info on contemporary art in the north-east

 More info on alternative creative spaces in the north-east

A rich seam of art in the south-east

MAC/VAL, façade et entrée, Paris © Luc Boegly

The south east of Paris is a pioneer in the world of contemporary art. In 2005, the Mac/Val (Musée d’art contemporain du Val-de-Marne) was the first contemporary art museum to open its doors in the south-east, in Vitry-sur-Seine - a revolution in the Paris art world. Twelve years on, the gamble has paid off, and the museum - a huge success - has led to an artistic awakening in this corner of the city, where countless new contemporary art spaces have opened in recent years, including art centres, galleries and exhibition spaces. The highly active.

The highly active Maison des Arts et de la Culture de Créteil (MAC) is a multidisciplinary production and exhibition space that organises events throughout the year. The area’s contemporary art centres include Le Crédac in Ivry-sur-Seine and the Maison d’Art Bernard-Anthonioz (MABA) in Nogent-sur-Marne. Some towns also have their own galleries, such as the Galerie Fernand Léger in Ivry-sur-Seine and the Galerie Jean Collet in Vitry-sur-Seine. La Fonderie in Fontenay-sous-Bois, Anis Gras, le Lieu de l’autre in Arcueil, Gare au Théâtre in Vitry-sur-Seine, and the Usine Hollander in Choisy-le-Roi, are among the residences and collectives set up by artists in the south-east.

La Briqueterie, the centre for choreographic development in Vitry-sur-Seine, is a magnet for dance enthusiasts. The area is also spoilt for exhibition spaces. In Fontenay-sous-Bois, a stunning former Baltard-style market building, the Halle Roublot, has been transformed into a cultural centre for visual art exhibitions. Fontenay also has two quirky exhibition spaces: LaGaleru and LaGaleru des Chemins.

The south east of Paris is also an open-air museum. As part of the “1 % artistique” project, Vitry-sur-Seine provides the backdrop to over 140 free-access public artworks, including several monumental pieces!

Contemporary art events are also held throughout the year. Every Spring, the Maison des Arts et de la Culture de Créteil organises a multidisciplinary contemporary art festival called Exit. In July, don’t miss the Nous n’irons pas à Avignon festival that transforms the Gare au Théâtre in Vitry-sur-Seine. Created in 1999, the three-week programme includes theatre plays, dance shows, performances and visual art exhibitions, along with talks, concerts, events and workshops.In October, pop along to the Générateur in Gentilly for the annual performance arts Frasq festival with its music, visual arts and dance.

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Atelier des Lumières

38 rue Saint-Maur, Paris, 75011

Located between Bastille and Nation, in a former foundry in the eleventh arrondissement of Paris, the Atelier des Lumières holds......

Bourse de Commerce - Pinault Collection

2 rue de Viarmes, Paris, 75001

A truly unique monument and collection. Located in the very heart of Paris, the Bourse de Commerce is the new exhibition space......

Centre Pompidou

Place Georges Pompidou, Paris, 75004

The Centre Pompidou, designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, is a 20th-century architectural marvel, immediately recognizable......

Musée d'Art moderne de Paris

11 avenue du Président Wilson, Paris, 75116

Opened in 1961, the Musée d'Art Moderne de Paris (or MaM) is situated in the east wing of the Palais de Tokyo, a monumental......

Fondation Louis Vuitton

Bois de Boulogne - 8 avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, Paris, 75116

The Fondation Louis Vuitton, situated in the Bois de Boulogne, a stone's throw from the Jardin d’Acclimatation, opened its doors......

Grand Palais

3 avenue du Général Eisenhower, Paris, 75008

The Grand Palais is one of the most iconic Parisian monuments. Built for the 1900 Exposition Universelle, it is recognizable by......

Grand Palais Éphémère

Exhibition and Trade Show venue
Place Joffre, Paris, 75007

Pendant la fermeture du Grand Palais, le public est invité à découvrir une partie de la programmation culturelle et sportive......

Sèvres - Manufacture et musées nationaux

2 place de la Manufacture, Sèvres, 92310

Created at the beginning of the 19th century by Alexandre Brogniart, the museum presents ceramics of all types from all countries......

Palais de Tokyo

13 avenue du Président Wilson, Paris, 75116

The Palais de Tokyo occupies a monumental building which was built in 1937 for the Paris International Exhibition dedicated to......

Paris La Défense Art Collection

15 place de La Défense, Paris La Défense Cedex, 92974

The Musée à Ciel Ouvert was built in 1972 thanks to an amibitious policy of public orders and offers you a unique journey through......

Centre d'art contemporain d'Ivry - Le Crédac

Exhibition and Trade Show venue
La Manufacture des Oeillets - 1 place Pierre Gosnat, Ivry-sur-Seine, 94200

Le Centre d’art contemporain d’Ivry - le Crédac est un lieu d’expositions, de production et d’expérimentation dévolu à la......

Le Plateau - Centre d'art contemporain

Exhibition and Trade Show venue
22 rue des Alouettes, Paris, 75019

At the crossroads of a public area (with neighbouring roads) and a private area (with the accommodation that surrounds it), the......

Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain

261 boulevard Raspail, Paris, 75014

The Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, which opened in 1994, is located on Boulevard Raspail in the 14th arrondissement......

Jeu de Paume Paris

1 place de la Concorde, Paris, 75008

The Jeu de Paume Paris, located in the Tuileries Gardens close to Place de la Concorde, is dedicated to photography, video, art......

Le Centquatre

Exhibition and Trade Show venue
5 rue Curial, Paris, 75019

The CENTQUATRE is a new Paris city council artistic establishment and a unique place devoted to production and innovation.......

Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac Paris Pantin

Exhibition and Trade Show venue
69 avenue du Général Leclerc, Pantin, 93500

Austrian gallery owner Thaddaeus Ropac has transformed a former copperware factory in an art gallery in Pantin. A few steps away......

Centre d’Art Contemporain Chanot (CACC)

Exhibition and Trade Show venue
33 rue Brissard, Clamart, 92140

Located 7 minutes from the Gare Montparnasse at Clamart, the Centre d'Art Contemporain Chanot is spaced dedicated to contemporary......

Galerie Gagosian

Exhibition and Trade Show venue
4 rue de Ponthieu, Paris, 75008

Gallery owner and art dealer Larry Gagosian is a one of the biggest stars of his profession. Specialising in both modern and......

Maison d'art Bernard Anthonioz

Exhibition and Trade Show venue
16 rue Charles VII, Nogent-sur-Marne, 94130

Located in a 17th century hotel, the Maison d'art Bernard Anthonioz is an exhibition space dedicated to contemporary creation:......

Les Laboratoires d'Aubervilliers

Exhibition and Trade Show venue
41 rue Lécuyer, Aubervilliers, 93300

The Aubervilliers Laboratories have been open since 1993 in an former metalwork factory in the Villette-Quatre-Chemin quarter of......

Le Cube - Centre de création numérique

Exhibition and Trade Show venue
20 cours Saint-Vincent, Issy-les-Moulineaux, 92130

In Issy-les-Moulineaux, just outside Paris, Le Cube, centre for digital creation, aims to help the public learn about digital......