Greater Paris is a magnet for art in all its forms - design, painting, photography, sculpture and more! The permanent collections, temporary displays and one-off installations of its museums and exhibition spaces put contemporary art in the spotlight.
To brush up on your knowledge of iconic works, a visit to the Centre Pompidou, which houses the largest collection of modern and contemporary art in Europe, is a must. You can admire masterpieces of the 20th century, but also the works of major artists on the contemporary art scene, like renowned German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans, as well as Gerhard Richter, Luc Tuymans, Christopher Wool, Olafur Eliasson, Christian Boltanski, and others. The Georges Pompidou Centre also organises a packed programme of popular exhibitions, such as the Jeff Koons retrospective, which set a new attendance record with more than 600,000 visitors.
The Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, at the top of Chaillot hill, houses an important collection of works from the major artistic movements of the last century, while keeping a close eye on contemporary art trends. The museum has already shown exhibitions devoted to artists such as Larry Clark, Matthew Barney, Olafur Eliasson, Maurizio Cattelan, Pierre Huyghe and Zeng Fanzhi.
To keep up with the latest trends in art, go along to the Palais de Tokyo, opposite the Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris. Offbeat and surprising, this ‘hybrid’ place is dedicated to all mediums of contemporary creation: painting, sculpture, design, fashion, video, cinema ...
Built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900, the majestic Grand Palais, near the Champs-Elysées, is a landmark exhibition venue. It hosts major events such as Monumenta (next held in 2018), the FIAC and Art Paris Art Fair, and Révélations, the first international biennial for the art and craft professions that is devoted entirely to contemporary art.
And, a few minutes from La Villette, the Centquatre is a multidisciplinary venue that creates a dialogue with art in all its forms through exhibitions, artistic encounters and other showcases ... This year’s must-do events include the Circulation(s) festival for young European photographers.
Curious about French art and design? Head to MAC/VAL in Vitry-sur-Seine, the first contemporary art museum to open in the south east of Paris. Devoted to the French art scene from the 50s onwards, its featured artists include Pierre Huyghe, Christian Boltanski, Fabrice Hyber, Claude Closky and Kader Attia.
Another space to get a handle on the vibrant French art scene is Le Plateau, near the Buttes-Chaumont, in the 19th arrondissement. Opened in 2002, Le Plateau is one of two exhibition spaces run by the Fonds régional d’art contemporain (FRAC) of Ile-de-France (you can visit the second space in the Château de Rentilly, in Seine-et-Marne). The Ile-de-France FRAC has a collection of over 1,400 works as well as an exhibition space for artists, Le Plateau organises events and educational sessions, including for young people.
Greater Paris is a nerve centre for all the art forms. Key places for different art genres in Paris are: for photography, the Jeu de Paume in the Tuileries Gardens, near the Place de la Concorde. This museum is entirely devoted to photography, cinema and video. It has built up a reputation with fine retrospectives : Martin Parr, Cindy Sherman, Ai Weiwei, Pierre et Gilles... Another gallery that’s well worth a visit is the Maison européenne de la photographie, , which exhibits works by leading photographers - including Helmut Newton, Annie Leibovitz and Raymond Depardon - and emerging artists. And make time to visit the BAL, a small documentary-image venue set up by legendary French photographer Raymond Depardon.
If you’re heading south, don’t miss the museum opened by French photographer Robert Doisneau - perhaps best known for his celebrated photo, “Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville” (1950) - in Gentilly, where he was born in 1921. Opened in 1996, the Maison de la photographie Robert Doisneau is an exhibition centre showcasing photographers with a keen eye for observing life. Throughout the year, it organises exhibitions devoted to original artists from around the world, including David Seymour and Georges Rodger, the founders of the Magnum agency, Serge Clément, Jane Evelyn Atwood, Clemens Kalischer, and many others.
Installed in a futuristic building signed Jakob + MacFarlane, the Cité de la mode et du design is dedicated to the avant-garde. It is also home to Art Ludique, the first museum dedicated to the art of entertainment (comics, mangas, video games, animation ...).
As for the digital arts, they are strongly represented in the centre of Paris, at the Gaîté Lyrique, but also in the west at the Cube, a digital arts centre in Issy-les-Moulineaux. Meanwhile, cinema has its headquarters at Luc Besson’s Cité du cinéma, which opened in Saint-Denis in 2012.
Urban art also has its own museum. Opened in October 2016, Art 42 is France’s first street art museum. Located in the 17th arrondissement of Paris, at the heart of 42, a computer programming school created by Xavier Niel, at no cost you can admire (by reservation only) 150 works by artists including Banksy, Invader, JR, and emerging names.