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Fondation Cartier gives up island vision

Instead of relocating to Ile Seguin, the contemporary art foundation will expand its home in Boulevard Raspail

Jean Nouvel’s design for the Ile Seguin site

The Fondation Cartier, the Paris-based contemporary art foundation, has abandoned plans to relocate from its central Paris premises to the Ile Seguin, the island in the Seine that was formerly the home of a Renault car factory.

In 2011, the president and founder of the Fondation Cartier, Alain Dominique Perrin, asked the French architect Jean Nouvel, to draw up preliminary plans for a new base on Ile Seguin. But Perrin tells The Art Newspaper that he has decided to enlarge the Fondation’s current premises in Boulevard Raspail, and will commission Nouvel to work on the expansion.

The Paris-based architect designed the Fondation’s original glass and steel venue, which opened in 1994. Perrin is due to meet the newly elected mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, to discuss the proposed extension.

Despite losing an anchor institution, the French company SCI R4, a subsidiary of the Swiss conglomerate Euroasia, is nonetheless moving forward with plans to turn 25,000 sq. m of the Ile Seguin into an “artistic micro-city” with artists’ studios and vast art storage spaces.

The ambitious regeneration scheme, entitled R4, has also been designed by Nouvel, and is scheduled for completion by 2017. The R4 project was initially announced in 2011, but planning permission was only granted last year by the Boulogne-Billancourt council, which oversees the island.

When asked about the withdrawal of Fondation Cartier, Nelly Wenger, the R4 project manager, says: “As an extension of R4, the ambition is to set up a programme to develop teaching activities in partnership with universities and a residential hotel that will focus to a large extent on artists.”

There will also be a hub of commercial galleries on Ile Seguin. “Around 20 art galleries will provide a unique network that cannot be found elsewhere in Paris,” says an R4 statement. Wenger declined to say which galleries have signed up. A multi-purpose exhibition hall is also due to be built along with auction rooms. “These areas… will enable auctioneers to hold important sales in Paris,” R4 says.

Meanwhile, a programme of cultural events based on the island, entitled “allez-y” was launched by R4 in 2012. The inaugural show, was co-organised with Fiac, the Paris-based Modern and contemporary art fair, included 18 works by contemporary artists such as Oscar Murillo and Ugo Rondinone.

This month, the R4 video art festival launches on Ile Seguin. The one-day event on 26 June includes works by emerging video artists from four art schools such as the Haute Ecole d’Art et de Design in Geneva and Le Fresnoy in Tourcoing.

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