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Centre Pompidou’s New Shanghai Outpost Faced Censorship: Report

Emmanuel Macron inaugurating the Centre Pompidou's new Shanghai outpost.

Emmanuel Macron (center left) inaugurating the Centre Pompidou’s new Shanghai outpost.

HECTOR RETAMAL/POOL/EPA-EFE/SHUTTERSTOCK

The Centre Pompidou museum in Paris is in expansion mode. Last month it announced a 237,000-square-foot “art factory” due to open in a suburb of the French capital in 2025, and this week it is opening a new branch in Shanghai. That new museum, located in the city’s West Bund district, was unveiled to the public on Tuesday—but the New York Times reports that the institution already faced a minor controversy in the run-up to its opening.

Titled the Centre Pompidou x West Bund Museum Project (it is located near the West Bund Museum), the new outpost is showing an exhibition called “The Shape of Time,” which features 100 works from the Pompidou collection, by Wassily Kandinsky, Zhang Huan, Christian Boltanski, Cristina Iglesias, and many more. According to the Times report, Chinese officials picked out a few works that they found unsuitable for public view. Serge Lasvignes, the Pompidou’s president, told the Times that the pieces—which he declined to specify—didn’t make it on view for reasons that were “not only political.”

Be that as it may, the opening of the Shanghai museum seems to have been a cause for celebration. Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, made an appearance at the opening, and said in a press conference, “Long live the friendship of China and France.” (The Pompidou’s Paris headquarters has also been holding up its end of the deal: Cao Fei recently became the first Chinese artist to have a solo show there.)

The Shanghai museum occupies 27,000 square feet and is designed by David Chipperfield. It’s subject to a five-year contract, and at the end of that term, the Pompidou will reassess whether it wants to keep up its presence in China. (Its museum network also includes branches in Brussels; Metz, France; and Málaga, Spain.)

The new Pompidou is far from the only major museum to have opened in Shanghai in recent years. ARTnews Top 200 collector Budi Tek inaugurated the Yuz Museum in 2014. That same year, Wang Wei and Liu Yiqian, who also rank on the Top 200 list, opened a branch of their Long Museum. Meanwhile, the UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, which is based in Beijing, has just announced plans to open a museum in Shanghai.

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