Art Market

Emmanuel Macron inaugurated the Centre Pompidou’s new Shanghai outpost.

Christy Kuesel
Nov 5, 2019 6:13PM, via New York Times

French President Emmanuel Macron (C), president of Centre Pompidou Serge Lasvignes (L), and Fong Shizhong (R) unveil a plaque during the inauguration of the Centre Pompidou West Bund Museum in Shanghai. Photo by Hector Retamal/POOL/AFP via Getty Images.

The long-awaited Shanghai outpost of Paris’s Centre Pompidou will open to the public Friday. French President Emmanuel Macron inaugurated the museum branch Tuesday in the latest expansion of the famed modern and contemporary art museum, which opened locations in Brussels and the Spanish city of Málaga in recent years. The opening comes just as the art world’s attention turns to Shanghai, which hosts the major ART021 and West Bund Art & Design fairs this week.

“China is today a major center for artistic creation,” Centre Pompidou President Serge Lasvignes told AFP. “It is also an essential place to build a new audience.” According to economist Clare McAndrew’s 2019 art market report, China is also the world’s third-largest market for art.

The museum is operated in collaboration with Chinese state-owned development company West Bund Group, which has a renewable five-year deal with the Centre Pompidou. The Pompidou will curate shows with works lent from its vast collection, while West Bund will cover the costs of the physical space and pay the Centre Pompidou about €2.75 million ($3.1 million) per year, according to the New York Times. And the artworks to be featured in the Shanghai Pompidou’s shows, like other museums and galleries in China, are subject to approval by local authorities. Lasvignes told the New York Times that fewer than five works had to be replaced in its inaugural exhibition, “The Shape of Time.”

The collaboration, which grants the Pompidou Shanghai over 27,000 square feet of exhibition space in the newly built West Bund Museum on the banks of the Huangpu River, is nearly two decades in the making. A deal almost came together 10 years ago, but fell apart at the last minute, according to the New York Times.

The Pompidou Shanghai is the latest effort from France to promote cultural development in other countries. Besides the two other outposts of the Centre Pompidou, opened in 2018 and 2015, a Louvre outpost opened in 2017 in Abu Dhabi, where the United Arab Emirates is partnering with France for over 30 years, paying the country €400 million ($446 million) to use the Louvre brand. It will eventually pay €974 million ($1.1 billion) total for expertise, guidance, and artwork loans from the European country. France also signed a deal with Saudi Arabia to develop the Saudi region of Al-Ula into a major cultural and tourist destination.

Christy Kuesel