West Bund x Pompidou Collaboration Extended by Five Years
By Alex Yiu
On November 24, the Shanghai West Bund Development Group (West Bund) and Paris’s Centre Pompidou reached an agreement to extend their exhibition collaboration for another five years. The 2024–29 renewal agreement was signed in the presence of Wang Yi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee and Minister of Foreign Affairs, and French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Catherine Colonna, coinciding with the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France.
In 2019, the signing of the first five-year partnership, “Centre Pompidou x West Bund Museum Project,” led to a series of cultural exchanges programs and activities between the two institutions, including the completion of the David Chipperfield-designed building on the Huangpu River under the West Bund Group’s budget. The Chinese state-owned development group paid a yearly lump sum of approximately EUR 3 million in exchange for exhibiting Pompidou’s modern and contemporary art collection within its permanent collection. Despite controversies regarding censorship and profiting, the project was inaugurated by President Emmanuel Macron during his state visit to China in 2019. At the time, the collaboration strengthened France’s “Museum Diplomacy,” helmed by the completion of the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the Pompidou Málaga, which further expanded France’s influence in the global cultural landscape.
During the first partnership, the West Bund Museum showcased three semi-permanent exhibitions—“The Shape of Time” (2019–2021), “The Voice of Things” (2021–2023), and “Mirrors of the Portrait” (2023–2024)—bringing over 700 artworks from the collections of the Centre Pompidou. Numerous special exhibitions, artist solos, and performances from both global and Chinese artists were also displayed, including an exhibition of Vasily (Wassily) Kandinsky’s pioneering works; a collaborative performance by French and Chinese choreographer Mathilde Monnier and Duan Ni; solo exhibitions of French visual artists Marguerite Humeau, Laurent Grasso, American video artist Bill Viola, and Chinese visual artists Yu Ji, Chen Wei, Hu Xiaoyuan, among others.
While new programs have yet to be announced, West Bund Museum is currently hosting four exhibitions, including the semi-permanent exhibition “Mirrors of the Portrait,” a retrospective of French modernist painter Raoul Dufy, Chinese painter Cui Jie’s solo, and an interactive installation exhibition by the artists’ duo Clédat & Petitpierre.
Alex Yiu is associate editor at ArtAsiaPacific.