Meeting with Bernard Blistène, the Director of Centre Pompidou

Центр Жоржа Помпіду у місті Париж
Centre Pompidou, Paris city

Meeting with the Director of Centre Pompidou Bernard Blistène, at the premises of M17 Contemporary Art Center.

The meeting was held with the support of the Collectors Club and Adamovskiy Foundation. 

09 July 19

Meeting with the Director of Centre Pompidou Bernard Blistène, at the premises of M17 Contemporary Art Center, organized by the Collectors Club, shed light on many issues.

The collection of the Georges Pompidou Centre exceeds 100,000 artworks, the museum manages about 80 projects annually, the museum staff is approximately 1,000 persons, 10,000 to 20,000 people visit the Centre daily. For this fall, an opening of the museum branch in Shanghai is scheduled, and the further global expansion of the exhibition space goes on. Annually, the government allocates about 2 million euros for collection development. Taking into account the current prices for contemporary art, for instance, one artwork by Basquiat exceeds such an annual budget thrice and even fourfold – this kind of funding for the world museum – is insignificant.

What is their key to success then? How come a national cultural institution, as a kind of the state-owned, successfully and unceasingly replenishes its collection, and holds the position of one of the three most influential global museum institutions of contemporary art (MOMA, Tate Modern, Centre Georges-Pompidou)?

Among the factors mentioned by Mr. Blistène: the constant collaboration of the museum with patrons, as well as influential collectors and art dealers by means of engagements in the projects; loans of artworks; engagement to important events and encouraging donations to the museum's collection.

"We use our collection as a weapon to prove the fact, that if the work from your collection will come to us – millions will observe it, and your name will be written down in history." Indeed, the exhibition nameplates include the origin of the artwork, from whose collection the artwork has been gained as a gift. Unlike museums in Switzerland or Israel, Pompidou does not take private work for a long-term (20-30 years) exhibit with the museum’s collection. That is only about the works owned by the institution.

Due to the legal basis and certain support from the government, the museum institution employs the following engaging tools:

- Tax privileges, the donator will receive from the State the remuneration in the form of a tax credit from the market value of the artwork. Descendants and relatives of the artists also receive tax exemptions for an inheritance, if agreed with the museum;

- The museum can influence the decision on the export of works of art beyond the borders of France provided that the collector "shared" part of the collection or otherwise supported the museum development and activities;

- The museum is not subject to tax the donations raised by donators, which are spent exclusively on museum development and support.

Thus, the museum managed to raise funds for the restoration of the Brâncuși's Studio, located next to the museum's building on George Pompidou Square, which has 137 sculptures of the outstanding sculptor. The artworks by Chagall and Duchamp were received in the same way, by means of donations from relatives or collectors, and that is only to name a few, as it’s a constant long-standing practice.

It is interesting to note, that Pompidou holds a rather large collection of Russian contemporary art, they have been interested in the research of the evolution of development from Malevich to these days and they have extremely valuable factual material for such research. The museum constantly works with its own property, organizing exhibitions, and integrating artworks into various curatorial projects. 

Answering the question of how the nationality of artists is described on the nameplate - the year, the birthplace city and country are indicated. For example: Kazimir Malevich, 1878, Kyiv, Russian Empire. The museum has a separate department dedicated to detailing the origin of the artists, and making changes in accordance with the approved approach.

Do Ukrainian artists have a chance to get into the Pompidou collection? The museum's interest is indisputable. At the meeting, director of the Centre Pompidou, Bernard Blistène and Nicolas Liucci-Goutnikov, the museum's conservateur (curator), told that they still open and discover Ukraine for themselves, yet they have a list of names they would like to bring to the world collection. Plans include visiting other cities of Ukraine (Kharkiv, Odesa, Lviv), and to hold dialogue with collectors, artists and their descendants.

"Keep an eye on the new trends and media in the arts. When buying artwork to your collection, keep the archives and publications, as that is how we get and hold more information about the times we live in," - advised the speaker at the end of the meeting with the collectors.

Additional Information: 

The Centre Pompidou is a non-governmental public body, an établissement public national à caractère administratif (EPA), subsidized and responsible for the ministry of Culture. French administrative public body like this is a public legal person with an administrative and financial autonomy, for a mission of general interest and non-industrial commercial, placed under the control of the State or a local authority.

The government delegates, in whole or in part, the design and execution of a public policy. Benefitting from legal personality and financial autonomy, it receives a government grant that is supplemented from its own resources (admission charges, partnerships, sponsorship etc.); it recruits its own staff. On the Centre Pompidou’s board sit government representatives, parliamentarians, the mayor of Paris, and other suitably qualified individuals, together with staff representatives.

In 1969, President Georges Pompidou decided that the vacant site of the Plateau Beaubourg should be used for the construction of a multidisciplinary cultural centre of an entirely new type. The decision gave new impetus to a number of different projects that would now be united in the new centre, with the establishment of a new public reading library in the centre of Paris, the provision of worthy premises for the musée national d’art moderne (MNAM), inadequately housed in one of the wings of the Palais de Tokyo, and the creation of a centre for new music (the IRCAM) inspired by the ideas of French composer Pierre Boulez. In addition to this, the new centre would take over the activities of the centre d’art contemporain in the rue Berryer while also incorporating François Mathey’s team from the musée des Arts Décoratifs, who had developed a dynamic program of exhibitions of contemporary art.

An architectural competition attracted 681 competitors from 49 different countries. The international jury chose a design submitted by a team of three, British architect Richard Rogers and the two Italians Renzo Piano and Gianfranco Franchini. Piano and Rogers both later won the Pritzker Prize.

The Centre Pompidou was inaugurated on 31 January 1977. From the late 1970's the Centre Pompidou stage saw highly influential exhibitions that made major contributions to the history of 20th-century art.  Under the leadership of its directors Pontus Hulten and Dominique Bozo, the collection of the musée national d’art moderne grew considerably and became a world leader in the field of modern and contemporary art.

A reorganization in 1992 saw the creation of a department of cultural development, responsible for a program of live performance, film screenings, lectures, symposia, and debates. The fusion of the modern art museum and the centre for industrial design laid the foundations for an architecture and design collection. 

After 20 years of activity and having welcomed over 150 million visitors, under president Jean-Jacques Aillagon the Centre Pompidou underwent renovation work. The government provided funding to expand gallery space for the display of the permanent collection and improve facilities for live performance.

At present, the Centre Pompidou welcomes some 3.5 to 3.8 million visitors per annum, and holds the third position among the three most-visited landmarks in Paris, after Louvre and Eiffel Tower. 

The Centre Pompidou includes the National Museum of Modern Art, the public reading library and the Kandinsky research library, the Industrial Design Centre, the Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics and Music, concert and exhibition halls, and cinema halls.

- We express the special gratitude to the Collectors Club and the Adamovskiy Foundation -