Guide Tour of Museum of Modern Art in Paris, France

The Museum of Modern Art in Paris (Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris, MAM Paris), is a major municipal museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art of the 20th and 21st centuries, presents the municipal collection of modern and contemporary art since Fauvism, rich in more than 15,000 works, mainly focused on artistic movements linked to the capital and more recently on the European art scene.

Located between the Champs-Elysées and the Eiffel Tower, the art museum occupies the east wing of the Palais de Tokyo, an exceptional emblematic palace of the architecture of the 1930s. The west wing of the palace, which belongs to the State, is also devoted to contemporary creation in all its forms. The museum, inaugurated in 1961, reopened on February 2, 2006, after a period of renovation, with an exhibition devoted to Pierre Bonnard. It is one of the fourteen museums of the city of Paris managed since January 1, 2013 by the public administrative establishment Paris Musées.

The Museum of Modern Art in Paris is one of the flagship establishments of the Parisian cultural field, with more than 15,000 works,, including monumental murals by Raoul Dufy, Gaston Suisse, and Henri Matisse, its collection become one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary art in France.

The permanent collections present the major artistic currents ranging from the 20th century to the current scene, illustrated by major artists in the history of art: Picasso, Dufy, Modigliani, Derain, Picabia, Chagall, but also Boltanski, Parreno and Peter Finger. The museum has exceptional in situ works such as the first two versions of La Danse by Matisse and The Electricity Fairy., a monumental masterpiece by Raoul Dufy.

The museum shows an impressive and varied amount of works by major figures of the 20th century art. The architecture of the building itself is a work of modern art, a complete tour will discover lots of sculptures and bas-reliefs by great artists of that period. Along a chronologically built walk, the museum offers the visitor to travel through time discovering the main artistic trends with a rich collection of paintings, sculptures but also photographs or furniture, which are as well representative of the artistic evolution during this century.

Since January 1, 2013, the Paris Musées public establishment has managed the network of 14 municipal museums, an ambitious project for museums. It strengthens the strategic management of the network, optimizes its management and is accompanied by a major financial effort by the City to continue the renovation of the buildings and improve the functioning of the museums.

For a long time, the City of Paris wanted to split the collections of the Petit Palais museum to create a museum of modern art, dedicated to the artistic currents of the 20th century. In 1934, the State had indeed decided to build a National Museum of Modern Art, by committing to provided new exhibition space to relieve the over crowded of Petit Palais museum.

The Palais de Tokyo, where the museum is located, is the work of architects A. Aubert, D. Dastugue, JC. Dondel and P. Viard. It was designed as part of the 1937 International Exhibition of Arts and Techniques. The State set up the National Museum of Modern Art in 1947, before transferring it to the Center Pompidou in 1977, while the City of Paris created the Museum of Modern Art there in 1961.

From an architectural point of view, it belongs to the Art Deco style. The Palais de Tokyo comprises two large wings perpendicular to the Seine, with simple lines, connected by a portico of honor forming a peristyle and opening onto terraces and steps that descend to the river. This elegant building combines classic and modern elements. The architectural decoration is centered on the exterior. The carved decoration follows a mythological theme in keeping with the function of the building, centered on the figure of Apollo Musagète (god of the arts), surrounded by centaurs and nymphs.

The collection exceptional bequest of Doctor Maurice Girardin in 1953 (more than 500 works), the contribution of this bequest will be decisive and shape the strengths of the current collection. With a core of Fauvist paintings: Lhote, Derain, Matisse, Braque, Dufy, Lipchitz, Vlaminck, an important set of Cubist works, but also artists like Rouault (109), Soutine, Modigliani or Buffet (13 works).

In 1954, the Electricity of France donated Raoul Dufy’s large decoration La Fée Électricité. According to the wishes of the artist, the company decides to give the grand decoration in view of its presentation at the opening of the new museum. The work was presented in 1964 for the first time, after major architectural adjustments to accommodate the 250 panels deployed over 600 m2, in a horseshoe-shaped room.

The 1937 exhibition had also been the occasion for major acquisitions, including: La Danse by Henri Matisse, The Art and Technique of Gaston Suisse, Nu dans le bain and Le Jardin by Pierre Bonnard, L ‘Équipe de Cardiff’ by Robert Delaunay, La Rivière by André Derain, Les Disques by Fernand Léger, L’Escale by André Lhote, L’Oiseau bleu by Jean Metzinger, fourPortraits of artists by Édouard Vuillard, furniture by Pierre Chareau, André Arbus, Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, not forgetting the monumental decorations by Robert and Sonia Delaunay, Albert Gleizes and Jacques Villon.

The Amos (1955) and Henry-Thomas (1976, 1984, 1986) donations then contributed decisively to giving the museum its identity. In addition, the City of Paris had acquired since 1937 major works by Matisse, Bonnard, Delaunay, Derain, Léger, Lhote, Vuillard as well as furniture by Chareau, Arbus, Ruhlmann, etc., which are still among the masterpieces. of the museum, not to mention the major decorations by Robert and Sonia Delaunay, Albert Gleizes and Jacques Villon, acquired in the movement (gift from the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles in 1939). This collection development policy has continued to grow ever since.

July 6, 1961, after six years of work, the municipal museum finally opens its doors with the core of works from the modern art collections of the Petit Palais, to which are added acquisitions from the commission for the purchase of fine arts and enrichments made thanks to the generosity of private collectors, such as Ambroise Vollard, Count Emanuele Sarmiento, Mathilde Amos and the collection of Doctor Girardin.

Since 2007, more than 800 works have been donated, considerably enriching the museum’s collections, which now contain more than 10,000 works. The museum was also able to acquire more than 200 works, thanks to an active patronage policy led by the Friends of the Museum society, supplementing the municipal budget allocated to it.

Permanent collections
The Modern collection is representative of the artistic movements that have developed in Paris since Fauvism in 1905; while the contemporary collection, from the 1960s, is more open to the European artistic scene (new realism, narrative figuration, kinetics, arte povera, Supports/Surfaces, BMPT, German artists and young French scene…). The Michael Werner donation thus made it possible to bring together the main French collection of German contemporary art, with that of the National Museum of Modern Art. More recently, the collection has extended to artists from all over the world, in America, China, Africa, etc.

November 15, 2014, the museum’s permanent collections had 10,013 works by 2,149 artists, including 1,766 paintings, 1,057 sculptures and three-dimensional works, 1,856 drawings, 1,757 prints or 3,021 photographs and atDecember 31, 2018, 15,041 works, which illustrate the various currents of 20th century and 21st century art.

The permanent collections with the contribution of many works by Jörg Immendorff, AR Penck, Markus Lüpertz, Antonius Höckelmann (de), in addition to the works of Willi Baumeister, Hans Hartung, Konrad Klapheck, Gerhard Richter, Georg Baselitz, Sigmar Polke, Wolf Vostell, Andreas Gursky, Thomas Schütte, Jan Voss, Thomas Ruff, Gisèle Freund, Rosemarie Trockel, Gloria Friedmann,Albert Oehlen, etc., but also to acquire works by Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Otto Freundlich, Per Kirkeby or Marcel Broodthaers.

Large donations granted by artists or their families include: bequest of Dr Maurice Girardin, donations Henry Thomas, Michael Werner, Mathilde Amos, Count Emanuele Sarmiento, Ambroise Vollard, Berthe Reysz, L’Oréal or Piotr Gaudibert, De Chirico and Suzanne Duchamp- Crotti bequests, Brauner, Leroy, Tomilina- Larionov, Buffet,Jean Dewasne, Karel Appel, Judit Reigl, Anna-Eva Bergman, Zao Wou-Ki…

One-off donations from artists, especially during monographic exhibitions include: Simon Hantaï, Jacques Monory, Pierre Soulages, Aurélie Nemours, Erró, Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Robert Motherwell, Keith Haring, Georg Baselitz, Bertrand Lavier, Marc Desgrandchamps, Niele Toroni, Luis Tomasello, Peng Wan-Ts, Bernard Piffaretti, Zeng Fanzhi…

Donations and contributions from the Society of Friends of the Museum include: Pierre Tal Coat, François Morellet, Albert Oehlen, Peter Doig, Georges Noël, Francis Picabia, Malick Sidibé, Christian Boltanski, Michel Blazy, Philippe Parreno, Philippe Decrauzat, Hubert Duprat…

Regular museum acquisitions include: Anton Räderscheidt,Peter Stämpfli, Gérard Fromanger, Martin Barré, Yan Pei-Ming, Anita Molinero, Gilles Barbier, Alain Séchas…

Divided into various halls, visitors will be able to see several artistic movements including Cubism, Fauvism, Realism, Abstract and Contemporary Art. The museum also includes a section on decorative art and furniture from the 1920s and 1930s. In addition, several halls contain temporary contemporary exhibitions, both French and international.

The museum’s collections include over 8,000 works of art made up of renowned artists such as Picasso, Henri Matisse, Raoul Dufy, Georges Braque, Amedeo Modigliani, André Derain and Alberto Giacometti. One of the most impressive paintings is found in the Dufy Hall. Here there is an enormous painting covering the walls of the room that narrates the history of electricity with beautiful bright colours.

Temporary exhibitions highlight the European and international art scenes of the 20th century, as well as displaying monographic and thematic exhibitions of trends in today’s art. Temporary exhibitions run every six weeks.

Society of Friends of the Museum of Modern Art in Paris
In 1975, Henriette Joël, encouraged by Gottfried Honegger, François Morellet and Otto Hahn, founded the society of Friends of the Museum of Modern Art in Paris. The Société des Amis supports the production of exhibitions and the acquisition of works of art. It offers its members conferences and visits devoted to the Parisian, French and foreign artistic scenes in museums, cultural institutions or artistic events, meetings with artists and exhibition curators, trips in France or abroad. and the edition, reserved for its members, of limited edition products produced by artists.