In the belly of Paris
The thirteenth century Stock Exchange building has been transformed by Tadao Ando to exhibit the French tycoon's collection.
They called it the belly of Paris, the area between the Louvre, Saint Eustache Church and the Marais district. It has hosted Paris’s central market for centuries as well as Les Halles Baltard in the 19th century. An infamous neighbourhood, swarming with people, merchandise, money and stabbings. Then in the twentieth century everything changed ; in the sixties art replaced merchandise and nowadays the Halles District is one of the most important itineraries for visitors to Paris, with the Pompidou Center at the center of a culturally established tourist circuit. It is in this context that the opening of the new museum Bourse de Commerce– Pinault Collection is situated, a new museum created by François Pinault for the French capital. This historical building from the 13th century which has been transformed through the centuries from a grain deposit to a Stock Exchange has now been adapted to host Pinault’s collection. François Pinault dreamed for a long time of offering his collection to Paris and had the desire to exhibit “art of our time” in a city which has been a world leader in the arts since the 19th century. After a first failed attempt in the early years of the 21st century, François Pinault now exhibits his collections permanently at Palazzo Grassi and at the Punta della Dogana (Sea Customs House) in Venice.
With his minimalist sensitivity, Tadao Ando has established a dialogue between form and time
But when the opportunity presented itself in 2015, Pinault accepted the challenge of transforming the Bourse de Commerce into a new exhibition space for his collection. Tadao Ando, a Japanese architect who has always accompanied Pinault in his cultural endeavours was immediately selected for this restoration and transformation project. With his minimalist and sensitive aesthetic, Tadao Ando has established a dialogue between form and time, interpreting the circular shape of this building in a new and pure way. Drawing a circle within a circle, a characteristic rhythm of his personalized reinforced cement, one sees that he has succeeded in creating a new dimension respectful of the previous uses of the building. Ten exhibition spaces, an auditorium, a foyer and a studio permit for a wide range of programs and conferences, meetings, films and concerts. After three years of building work, the Bourse de Commerce – Pinault Collection opened its doors in January. The program offers an experience of contemporary art through the use of quality spaces and the introduction of artists to the public. The Belly of Paris has become a symbol of creativity and now has found its ombelicus mundi.