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PARIS: The reopening of Parisian museums this week finally gives billionaire tycoon François Pinault the chance to showcase his vast collection of contemporary art in the French capital, with works ranging from stuffed pigeons to slowly melting chairs.

The museum’s launch in a converted 19th-century commodity exchange a few blocks from the Louvre has been suspended twice due to the coronavirus pandemic after suffering earlier planning problems, with an initial project scrapped in 2005.

Pinault, 84 – who made his fortune in the timber trade before moving into retail as Kering, run by his son – joins French luxury tycoon Bernard Arnault in a bid to imprint his legacy on the Parisian art scene and landscape, with museums and renovation projects.

But the Bourse de Commerce – Collection Pinault, which will open on May 22, will also give visitors a glimpse of the businessman’s vast treasury of art purchases since the 1980s, including pieces by photographer Cindy Sherman and painter Peter Doig.

The 200 works on display for the opening, many straight out of storage, feature artists who have never had retrospectives in France, such as Kerry James Marshall, known for his black-figure paintings and explorations of Afro history. -American.

An ephemeral work by Swiss-born artist Urs Fischer will take center stage at the launch, with wax sculptures set up in the central space, including chairs and a marble-like statue, which will slowly melt during six months as they are set on fire.

Overhead, stuffed pigeons peer into the gallery, in an art installation called “Others” by Maurizio Cattelan designed to give visitors a surprising sense of being watched.

The project follows Pinault’s attempt to build a new museum in western Paris on the site of a former Renault car factory, which has become embroiled in disputes with local authorities. The billionaire has since opened two museums in Venice, Italy.

AFP

Paintings by South African artist Marlene Dumas at the Bourse de Commerce-Collection Pinault, which houses the private art collection of French billionaire Francois Pinault in Paris.

Arnault, who is behind luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, built his Louis Vuitton Foundation in the west of the French capital, opening Frank Gehry’s futuristic design to public exhibitions in 2014.

The Cartier Foundation, linked to the jewelry brand belonging to the Swiss Richemont, has been a cultural hotspot for contemporary art exhibitions in Paris since the 1980s.

FOUNDED ART

Many museums in France are reopening for the first time since October on May 19 as COVID-19 restrictions ease. The Bourse de Commerce – Pinault Collection will welcome 600 to 700 visitors per day, a reduced attendance compared to its capacity of 1,700 places.

In the crowded art world of Paris, once dominated by public institutions, private museums now offer a new perspective, said Bourse de Commerce chief executive Martin Bethenod.

“Now it’s a much more balanced art scene, it’s kind of an ecosystem where the private and the public can work together,” Bethenod told Reuters.

Housed in a former circular cereal hall, the exterior of the Bourse de Commerce has been restored, while inside the old and the new mingle. A cement walkway designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando gives visitors an up-close view of the towering glass dome, as well as a late 19th-century painting depicting an archaic European-centric worldview, with colonial stereotypes.

Part of the concept was to curate the work, in a form of dialogue with contemporary artists, Bethenod said.

“Mr. Pinault’s point of view is very much linked to societal issues, social issues, political issues, gender issues, cultural issues,” he added.