Cultural policy

Pompidou outposts to pop-up across China?

The new president of the Paris museum was in China last week to discuss joint projects with Chinese officials

The newly appointed president of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Serge Lasvignes, is in talks with Chinese officials about a number of joint projects, including temporary pop-up Pompidous at venues across the Asian country. Lasvignes visited China 15-16 May with Laurent Fabius, the French minister of foreign affairs and international development. A spokesman for the Centre Pompidou declined to comment on the initiative.

The visit signals that the pop-up strategy pursued by the institution’s former president, Alain Seban, is due to continue under Lasvignes. The launch in March of a Pompidou outpost in Málaga, Spain was Seban's final flourish before handing over the reins to Lasvignes, who began a five-year term on 2 April.

This is not the first time the Pompidou has tried to branch out in China. In 2007, the then president Bruno Racine said he expected a museum carrying the Pompidou’s name to open in a former fire station in Huaihai Park in Shanghai. But the scheme never materialised because of difficult negotiations with the Chinese authorities.

The pop-up plan is part of an ongoing charm offensive by the Pompidou aimed at Chinese institutions and patrons. In May, five leading Chinese collectors donated five pieces to the Paris museum, which already owns around 128 contemporary Chinese works.

The gifts are the Appearance of Crosses painting series (1994-2011), by Ding Ying; two paintings, The Water and The Material (2014), by Zhang Enli; Spring (2014), by Zhao Yang; and the installation Corporate (4 Knives Groups) (2014), by Xu Zhen.

The latter was donated jointly by Adrian Cheng, the Hong-Kong based founder of the K11 Art Foundation, and the Shanghai-based businessman David Chau. Cheng also gave Zhang Enli's work, The Material. The other donors are the Chinese-Indonesian billionaire Budi Tek, the art consultant William Zhao and Andrew Xue.

"Both Zhang Enli and Xu Zhen produce vital and exciting work.  Each, in his own very individual way, challenges our cultural or socio-political assumptions, using irony. My donation to the Centre Pompidou is in line with the work of K11 Art Foundation to support contemporary Chinese artists who are outside market currents," Cheng says.

Cheng sits on the Pompidou's international circle patrons' group. Last year, his foundation launched a three-year partnership with the Palais de Tokyo in Paris consisting of a series of exhibitions and exchanges focusing on emerging art in China and France.