The Palais de Tokyo reopened its enormous doors. And they remained open for 28 hours straight. The extended free access - complete with eclectic round-the-clock programming - was the first glimpse at a major expansion project that adds 14,000 sq m to an already impressive destination for contemporary art in Paris.
Built for the 1937 International Exhibition, the Palais de Tokyo was, from its beginnings and until 1974, the Museum National d'Art Moderne. It had been closed off from the public for three decades. The architecture firm of Lacaton & Vassal was responsible for the overhaul, which primarily focused on filling the cavernous lower level with natural light from clerestory windows and adding a train station-style glass roof to the main gallery.
New president and longtime curator Jean de Loisy proudly quipped in a mock Italian accent that the look was 'brutta, brutta!' (Translation: ugly.) - Hilarious!
Christian Marclay stole the show with his stained-glass comic-strip windows near the entrance, which explode with 'shrruuuuf', 'splorch', 'kra-sakk!'
Of the windows, Lacaton says, 'It gives a quality of transparence. There's now a certain lightness and even fragility.' She adds that the inherent beauty of the space allows it to maintain an 'in-progress' look and feel. 'My wish is that after every exhibition, it would become empty and then recomposed again,' she states. 'There is a real freedom of use.'
The very graceful concrete structure from 1937 appeared naked, with a raw, industrial, modern look.
Behind the monumental facades, the interior of the building resembled a magnificent industrial wasteland : the volumetries are astonishing, the natural light is omnipresent and fulsome, knowingly implemented by the great overhead skylights and wide bays set out on the facades.
We propose a simple, "light response, one sticking close to the word "installation" and to the extremely limited budget. To utilize what exists, not to transform it, to make the most of the building's physical and aesthetic qualities. To preserve the enormous freedom of the spaces without partitioning them off, so as to permit the maximum spatial freedom and fluidity.
|Ulla Von Brandenberg // Death of a King|
|Laurent Derobert// Fragments de mathematiques existentielles|
|Laurent Derobert// Etre Reve|
|Julien Salaud// Grotte Stellaire|
There's also an intricate interpretation of the Big Bear constellation in twine and black light by Julien Salaud entitled 'Grotte Stellaire' (star-studded cave) in one of the basement rooms.
|Maria Loboda// Walldrawing (Arsenic, Cyanide, Mercury, Lead)|
Images of artwork courtesy of Palais de Tokyo