Pompidou expansion

I’ve been intrigued by the notions of museum expansion for a few years now (and recently donated a drawing, from 2005, to Hwy Rachel to help them raise money – that drawing was about the notion of museum expansions). So I was delighted to see this article published this morning at the NYTimes about how two of France’s largest museums – the Louvre and the Georges Pompidou – are possibly planning not only in-state expansions but possibly international expansions: art satellites abound!

But what makes this article interesting is how the authors highlight the use of art as political leverage:

And President Chirac, who recently visited China, is clearly eager to use the Pompidou to raise France’s profile in the world’s fastest growing economy.

(referring to the possibility of the Pompidou opening a satellite branch museum in Shanghai)

Critics of the expansions are skeptical of the use of commerce to locate the meaning of art — the exchange of a handful of paintings for x-amount of dollars, or Euros, or whatever currency you use, will inevitably raise questions.

Supporters of the Louvre’s plans to build satellite museums in Abu Dhabi then flip the coin, the very clever and contemporary coin, by saying:

it was a tribute to French cultural influence that France had been invited to share its expertise with Abu Dhabi. “It is a chance that should be seized,? she said.

(quoting Francine Mariani-Ducray)

Of course, does any of this really matter when it must be admitted that the overwhelming majority of the world’s art collection is in storage! From museum to museum, art equals capital and you build your capital by storing it away, if not in banks then in crates and containers resting in unmarked warehouses around the world. To all aspiring artists, these places are your graveyards!

So I say let them build their satellites and fill it with art. It won’t change my life one bit if it’s in a dusty crate or just up the beach in Abu Dhabi or in a city like Shanghai with all their burgeoning skyscrapers. I get out as often as I can and see as much as I can, and I won’t see even 1% of what the world has to offer by the time I die, so why is this a bad thing? But I agree it’s evil to use public money for cultural capitalism. But if I was in Shanghai, sure, I’d love to see the ‘Shanghai Georges Pompidou’; what a crazy thought! And in the end it’s a shame either way to keep it all in storage; which is inevitable because there just isn’t enough space in the world to showcase all of mankind’s artistic accomplishments. This is a bloody conundrum I tell you!

Related websites:
NYTimes article about Chinese art market bursting at the seams, published about a week before the article linked up top