Interview with…

Published : 24.06.2020

Chiara Parisi,
Director of the Centre Pompidou-Metz

On November 28, 2019, Serge Lasvignes, Chairman of the Board of the Centre Pompidou-Metz and Chairman of the Georges Pompidou Center for art and culture in Paris, appointed Chiara Parisi as Director of the Centre Pompidou-Metz for a five-year term beginning on December 2, 2019.

Amid the upheaval caused by Covid-19 during the first few months of her term, Chiara Parisi tells us about her vision for the museum.

You were appointed Director of the Centre Pompidou-Metz last December. Can you summarize how your career led you to Metz? What motivated you to apply for the position of director of the Centre?

I am originally from Rome, I have a doctorate in art history, and I started my career at the Villa Medicis,
where I had the good fortune to train as a young curator.

In 2004, I decided to come to France to head up the International Center for Art and Landscape on Vassivière Island in the Limousin region of the country. Over the course of seven years, I developed a program that was tied to the museum’s geographic origins while still open to the world, including innovative exhibits and projects with more environmental content.

In 2011, I joined the Paris Mint as Director of Cultural Programs to create a new space for contemporary
art in the heart of Paris. Within a few years, the Paris Mint became recognized as an international art venue. I organized several monographic exhibitions there, including those on Paul McCarthy and
Maurizio Cattelan.

After these six intense years in Paris, I returned to the Villa Medicis as a curator of modern and contemporary art. Between 2017 and 2019 I launched a new cycle of exhibits on Yoko Ono, Tatiana Trouvé,
Annette Messager, Camille Claudel and others.

As the end of 2019, I arrived in Metz, a city that I first came to know nearly ten years ago when I was invited
to attend the “Nuit Blanche” modern art cultural event. My objective now is to extend the Centre Pompidou-Metz’s extraordinary success into the future. The Centre Pompidou-Metz has become a leading art destination, and I would like to pursue what has been built by my predecessors, Laurent le Bon and Emma Lavigne, by further enhancing the museum’s international reputation and the vibrant region of which it is a part.

It is a unique museum, hosting a new exhibit every year drawn from the contemporary art collection of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the world’s largest alongside that of New York’s Museum of Modern Art. The Centre Pompidou-Metz boasts one of the world’s most audacious and successful architectural designs for a major museum, which we owe to Shigeru Ban and Jean de Gastines. In sum, it exerts an irresistible pull on the museum’s staff, visitors and guests.

The Centre Pompidou-Metz is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Attendance at the museum and its reputation continue to grow. What themes do you plan to emphasize over the next five years? What are your goals for the museum?

I would like the Centre Pompidou-Metz to be a lively, animated place, where people can learn about art,
contemplate it and exchange ideas about it. A place people come to see exhibits, shows and events, to meet artists and art historians, as well as to relax, enjoy a coffee break, revisit a favorite work of modern art, chat with friends, take part in an educational workshop or learn about new trends in contemporary art.

I would also like to give full expression to the museum’s architecture and emphasize its sculptural dimension. Visitors to the museum adore its architecture; it’s up to us to make the most of this valuable asset.

Notwithstanding the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced us to close the museum for three months, we have continued our work on the cultural program for the coming months. We are working right now on Giuseppe Arcimboldo, an Italian Renaissance painter who has always fascinated me and who continues to inspire contemporary artists. I believe we must be fundamentally transverse and multidisciplinary. So we are developing projects related to the landscape, such as the Land Art exhibition, or to martial arts to show how major artists have always used the human body in both physical and spiritual dimensions. Finally, we are working on large monographic exhibitions for Suzanne Valadon, André Masson and Kazimir Malevich.

Teaching and learning are cardinal values for me, and I would also like to create a series of initiatives, both inside and outside the museum, to reach out to different audiences.

What events have been planned to celebrate the 10th anniversary? Will they be impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic?

We have created a high-quality series of events for this symbolic year, during which we expected to exceed
four million visitors for the first time. 2020 will be an opportunity to look back over this first decade of hosting artistic creation in all its forms and also to think about our vision for the future.

This goal is all the more crucial in light of the current public health crisis. The stability of our cultural institutions will be even more imperative when life goes back to normal. Many people are already manifesting a thirst for art, a desire to once again discuss, gather and experience collectively. In my opinion, by maintaining a high-quality cultural program, local authorities are sending a strong, positive signal to their citizens.

As of today, we are therefore not planning to cancel our programs, but rather to postpone them when possible.

After reopening on June 12, we were finally able to inaugurate the Folklore exhibition (open until October 4), as well as those of Susanna Fritscher (until September 14) and Giuseppe Penone (until January 11, 2021), which were initially scheduled to start in March. The Yves Klein exhibit will open on July 18, followed on November 21 by the exhibit dedicated to Marc Chagall and the importance of stained-glass windows in his work, organized to coincide with the 800th anniversary of the Metz cathedral. Finally, Aerodream, a surprising exhibit about the little-known history of inflatable architecture and design, has been postponed until January 30, 2021.

The museum’s 10th anniversary weekend celebration will be held May 28-30, 2021. I’d like to make this a
visionary moment that brings together the vitality and the creative and constructive energies of the artistic
community. Eleven artists – Maurizio Cattelan, Daniel Spoerri, Bintou Dembélé, Simone Fattal, Shigeru Ban and others – have been invited to write eleven new commandments that will play out in a series of projects conceived for our museum. All of our exhibition spaces will be accessible free of charge, and events
will be scheduled non-stop. The celebration will be a memorable one.

Wendel has supported the Centre Pompidou-Metz as its founding sponsor since 2010. Why is this partnership so important for the museum?

Thanks to Wendel’s steadfast support and long-term vision, we can, above all, pursue our cultural program
with confidence and determination. Knowing that we can count on the vision and loyalty of such a prestigious partner, who has been at our side since the beginning and who is equally attached to our
values of excellence, innovation and accessibility, has been an invaluable asset.

As a member of our Board of Directors, Wendel also contributes private-sector expertise, a splendid complement to the support we receive from our elder institution, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and from our local municipal and regional authorities.

Wendel’s involvement with the Centre Pompidou-Metz has combined a local dimension with international
visibility, for the benefit of all parties.

Less than two hours from Paris, the Centre Pompidou-Metz is both nearby and a complete change of scenery. Visitors can see a renowned masterpiece, meet the new darling of the artistic scene or spend the night within a stone’s throw of one of the world’s most beautiful Gothic cathedrals.

I would like to make our institution a place where you can experience everything having to do with the
history of art, from the most entertaining to the most challenging, and from the most interactive to the most innovative.

A full measure of success in this endeavor can only be achieved through a collective effort, and we are proud
to be able to count on Wendel.

The partnership between Wendel and the Centre Pompidou-Metz stands the test of time

On the occasion of the Centre Pompidou-Metz’s 10th anniversary, Wendel has reaffirmed its support for another five years. Wendel would like to emphasize how very important it is to support cultural institutions during the current period. Since the museum’s creation in 2010, Wendel has accompanied it in its development and is in this regard, its founding sponsor.

Credits : Philippe Levy