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A visit to the Centre Pompidou, Paris

Whether you simply pass the imposing, turned inside out, building or are viewing it from one of Paris’ look out points like the iconic Eiffel Tower or the top of mount Montmartre, the Centre Pompidou is one of those Parisian icons that is hard to miss. The building is a work of art on its own, both hated and loved by Parisians and tourists. Along the Place Georges Pompidou this modern museum flaunts an exterior façade of pipes and escalators. Instead of being tucked away, hidden from visitors, they were embraced by Pompidou’s architectural team.

Each of the buildings functional elements are colour coded. Red represents pedestrian flow – ride the escalators to the top and enjoy a stunning view of Paris along the way. Green pipes are for the water circuits, yellow for electricity and blue is for air conditioning. Inside is a collection of art that spans the early 20th century up to the present day.


Some of the museum’s masterpieces, one of the largest collections in Europe, a dazzling 140,000 works, are by Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, Piet Mondriaan, Frida Kahlo and Pablo Picasso…

We take a look at some of the major works of art at the Pompidou:

Marc Chagall at the Pompidou

Between 1910-1914, after moving to Paris, Russia-born Chagall discovered Fauvism, an art movement known for its bright colours and unusual perspectives. A combination that creates a sense of movement intensifying the emotional impact of the non-secondary colours used in the painting. In his works he celebrated birth, marriage and death. He created a world where reality and fantasy could meet.

In his work Les mariés de la Tour Eiffel, which he created in the late 1930’s, we see Chagall and his wife in bridal clothes. The painting has both Parisian and Russian elements, inspired by their personal life. Chagall met the love of his life Bella in Russia. In order for him to marry her, he needed to gain her parents approval and went to Paris to make his name. Returning as a successful artist, he and Bella tied the knot. Alas, due to several wars, her sickness and early death, Bella never had the chance to live with her husband in Paris.

Henri Matisse

French born artist Matisse, the founder of Fauvism, went to art school in his early twenties. A visit to Corsica inspired him with the bright colours of the landscape. Advice from Camille Pissarro, who pointed out his less successful use of colours, helped him to improve his work. He was also inspired by artists like Cézanne, Gauguin and Rodin. In 1905, at the age of 35 years, his painting style changed from the Pointillism he had favoured – coloured dots to create a painting – to Fauvism, and a new style was born.

In La Blouse Roumaine, which was painted in 1940, when Matisse was 70 years old, we see a young girl wearing a Romanian style blouse. The main focus of the painting however is not the girl itself but the embroideries on the blouse. Matisse was fascinated by fabric and his focus lays on the colours and design of the embroideries.


The Musée Pompidou not only displays paintings but all sorts of art, even an entire shop! French born artist Benjamin Vautier, known as Ben, was born in 1935. He opened a shop in Nice in the late 1950’s, selling second hand items. It became a place where artists from Nice’s art school could meet, publish and debate. It eventually became the Centre d’art total and was eventually taken down and then rearranged by Ben in the early 1970’s. Discover this unique and beautiful piece of art, inside and out. On the side of the shop a black wall displays some of Ben’s sayings such as: ‘la vérite changera l’Art’ meaning the ‘truth will change art’ and ‘l’amour c’est des mots’ – ‘love is words’.

Furniture or art?

Maybe the last thing you expect to find in an art museum such as this – is a kitchen. The Musée Pompidou slowly leads you from a more common and familiar type of art, to bigger and more ‘playful’ works in the back. You’ll find sculptures as well as a complete kitchen and living room. This part of the museum is less crowded than the exhibition rooms with works by Picasso and Kahlo, likely because the works are less known and maybe it’s more difficult to see how a kitchen can be defined as art.

A unique find – Breton’s treasure

Sometimes when walking by a piece of art you just know you’ve come across a true treasure, a unique find. In the Musée Pompidou to me that was the studio of artist André Breton, a French writer and poet. He was the leader of the surrealist movement and the author of Nadja. It’s like a tiny museum put into a bigger one. The studio shows Breton’s working space and his personal collection of artworks including Picasso, Duchamp and Miró. Breton’s studio where he worked from 1922 to 1966 was not far from where the Pompidou now is, and just steps from the Moulin Rouge.

By Natascha Gordeau a former tour guide with a passion for travel, photography and storytelling. From her home she loves to travel to France, the place where her ancestors are from. Find her at Tash Travel Pics 🌍📸🗽 (@N_Gordeau) / Twitter

Did you know? There is a second Pompidou Museum in the city of Metz, Lorraine

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