In what feels a little like a throwback to the first half of the 20th century, when European museums dispatched exhibitions of impressionist and expressionist paintings to the art-starved U.S., and later, when MoMA sent shows of American abstract expressionists around the country and to Eastern European countries as a demonstration of American artistic genius, the Pompidou Center, France’s National Museum of Modern Art, announced plans yesterday to send a big-top circus full of art around to the country’s less-cultured rural corners and urban ghettos.
AP reports that the project still needs some major funding and has not set and itinerary yet, but will probably start by the end of 2010. Obviously this is a great idea—the more art people are exposed to the better—but if mishandled this project could also come off a lot like cultural colonialism, particularly in the ghettos of France’s major cities. Let’s wait to worry about that until this is a sure thing, though.
Alain Seban, the Pompidou’s president, explained that the 10,700-sqare foot, $4.4 million set of triangular tents planned for the project will house between 10 and 15 works from the museum’s collection and be free to the public, setting up in malls town squares and parking lots around the country. The works shown will change as the the exhibition theme changes, but Seban has already made a couple picks: Picasso’s “Woman in Blue” from 1944, a Calder mobile, Matisse’s “Magnolia Still Life” from 1941 and Martial Raysse’s neon sculpture “America, America” from 1964 (pictured).