Paint the Town Red
Maison Rouge, a contemporary-art venue by Amplitude Architectes, kicks off a museum revolution in Paris
Sheila Kim -- Interior Design, 8/1/2004 12:00:00 AM
Maison Rouge aspires neither to the regal grandeur of the Musée du Louvre nor to the iconoclastic modernism of the Centre Pompidou. Instead, the upstart Parisian foundation promotes a unique perspective on art. "Not to conserve a collection or simply present current work—but to provide an opportunity for exploration and discovery," says founder Antoine de Galbert, a prominent collector.
Located in the bohemian Bastille district, the 21,500-square-foot complex encompasses a series of interconnected buildings that once housed a printing plant. Amplitude Architectes overhauled the site, adding concrete floors and a glass storefront and, most important, preserving a three-story 1930's house standing in a central courtyard. All four facades now sport a coat of red paint, symbolizing the heart of the foundation, and architect Jean-Yves Clément enclosed the courtyard with a glass roof, allowing the house's two upper stories to protrude above.
Maison Rouge's namesake red house holds offices and a kitchen for the courtyard café. Exhibitions take place in the surrounding buildings—the inaugural show being a provocative look into collectors' inner sanctums. Curated by Galbert and managing director Paula Aisemberg in conjunction with psychoanalyst Gérard Wajcman, "L'Intime: Le Collectionneur Derrière la Porte" turns its back on the standard white-box scheme in favor of 15 vignettes set up in oversize plywood boxes akin to shipping crates. Thierry Germe designed the art-filled installations, which range from a closet-size powder room to a parquet-floored dining room—furniture, lighting, moldings, and all. Comparisons between vignettes emphasize the multiplicity of private curatorial visions. "By displaying the artworks in situ," explains Wajcman, "we're inviting visitors to see the innermost core of these collections: the collector."