5 contemporary artworks to see in Paris

Centre Pompidou, corridors of the Paris contemporary art museul
Inside the Centre Pompidou, Paris

Paris, city of light, is also a city of culture. Throughout the ages, it has never ceased to attract and inspire the greatest artists. Today, our capital is renowned over the world for its prestigious museums that attract thousands of tourists who want to discover the most famous artworks. Artsper looks back at five contemporary artworks that are emblematic of Paris’ artistic effervescence.

1. Alexander Calder, Horizontal (1974), in front of the Centre Pompidou

Stabile mobile by Alexander Calder in front of the Centre Pompidou inParis
Alexander Calder, Horizontal, 1974

This monumental artwork of 4.5 tons and 7 meters high is one of the last large mobile works created by Calder. It was last shown at an exhibition in La Defense in 1992, but was never shown again to the public after that. In 2011, the square in front of the Centre Pompidou welcomed it back and it seems willing to stay. Today, the work has become a symbol of the Beaubourg district.

2. Marcel Duchamp, Fontaine (1964) at the Centre Pompidou

Fountain by Marcel Duchamp, ready-made at the Centre Pompidou of Paris
Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, 1964

Let’s now enter the Centre Pompidou. It houses the largest collection of modern and contemporary art in Europe, including emblematic works by the greatest artists. There, you can see this reproduction of the Fountain by Duchamp, signed by the artist. It is nowadays his most famous work. Better known as “The Urinal”, the original of 1917, which has now disappeared, was one of Duchamp’s first ready-made.

3. Olafur Eliasson, Inside the horizon (2013) at the Vuitton Foundation

Installation Inside the Horizon in the Grotto space of the Louis Vuitton Foundation
Olafur Eliason, Inside the horizon, 2013

Specially created for the inauguration of the Louis Vuitton Foundation, this artwork was incorporated into the building’s architecture. It has become an emblem of the place, which it floods with its warm yellow light. The artist presents here a monumental work the spectator can interact with. It blends itself into its environment, articulated around a play of mirrors and reflections on water.

4. Zao Wou-Ki, L’Hommage à Matisse (1986) au Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris

Zao Wou Ki , l'Hommage à Matisse, abstract oil given to the museum by the artist's wife
Zao Wou-Ki, L’Hommage à Matisse, 1986

This work was added to the MAMVP’s collections this year, on the occasion of the retrospective organized by the museum in January 2019. It comes from a donation from the artist’s wife, Françoise Marquet-Zao, who said she wanted to sanctuarize her husband’s works by making it accessible to the public. She had already donated works by Zao Wou Ki to the Cernuschi Museum in 2016.

5. César, Pouce (1994) à la Défense

César, Pouce, sculpture in La Défense
César, Pouce, 1994

No museum for this last work, which is part of the Defence’s outdoor art collection. Pouce (the thumb) by César, installed in the district in 1994, is part of a series undertaken since 1965 by the artist, following a commission from the gallery owner Claude-Bernard. This one is the most massive of all the artworks of the series, being 12 metres high and 18 tons heavy.

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