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Centre Pompidou surveys a decade of collecting

The Centre Pompidou has organised an exhibition of 100 images acquired over the past ten years for the 20th edition of Paris Photo. The show in the Grand Palais will present works by 40 artists, from Richard Avedon to Jeff Wall, through Brassaï, Andreas Gursky, René Magritte, August Sander and Wolfgang Tillmans. Called The Pencil of Culture, a reference to William Henry Fox Talbot’s The Pencil of Nature (1844-46), the exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue on the recent history of the collection, showing, on the cover, the striking polarisation Punu mask, test for the film Culte Vaudou (1937), by Maurice Tabard.

Wolfgang Tillmans’s Urgency XVIII (2006) (© Centre Pompidou/Dist. RMN-GP)

The show’s co-curator, Clément Chéroux, is about to leave Paris to become the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s senior curator of photography, having led the Centre Pompidou’s photography department since 2013. Chéroux says: “The [Pompidou’s] collection has become one of the most important in Europe, and one of the richest in the world on the 1920s and 30s.” Collecting and showing photography was included in the mission of the centre from its birth, in 1977, and a specific department was created in 1985. It now comprises more than 40,000 items. Almost 12,000 have been purchased since 2007. In 2011, the museum was able to acquire the collection of Christian Bouqueret: 7,000 vintage prints from the 1930s and 40s. Otherwise, the acquisitions cover the full range of photography: historical, contemporary and representing all trends and nationalities. The exhibition is sponsored by J.P. Morgan, the official partner of Paris Photo. V.N.