Guide to the Fondation Cartier Contemporary Arts Center

A Modern Arts Treasure-Trove in the French Capital

Fondation Cartier Contemporary Arts Center in Paris

 TripSavvy / Leopoldine Bauer

The Fondation Cartier is one of Europe's most important institutions for contemporary arts. While it often gets overlooked by tourists, who are more likely to head to the National Museum of Modern Art at the Centre Pompidou or the Palais de Tokyo to glimpse important current trends in the arts, the Foundation, nestled near Montparnasse in the city's south, hosts a constant stream of temporary exhibitions focusing on particular contemporary artists, schools, or themes.

Recent temporary exhibits have focused on the history of Rock n' Roll, the film and art of American cult filmmaker David Lynch, and photographer William Eggleston. Exhibitions focus on a variety of mediums, from painting, video and photography to performance art, graphic design and fashion, exploring multiple facets of contemporary artistic achievement. The Fondation is also an important patron to contemporary artists, commissioning important works and offering artist-in-residence programs.

Opened in 1994, the Fondation is housed in a luminous glass building designed by famed French architect Jean Nouvel. Out back, green takes over the senses in a lush garden with tall trees and the work of landscaping artist Lothar Baumgarten (whose name, ironically enough, translates to "tree garden" in German).

Location and Contact Information:

The Fondation Cartier is located in Paris' 14th arrondissement (district), near the historic Montparnasse district where artists and writers such as Henry Miller and Tamara de Lempicka thrived in the 1920s and 1930s.

261 Boulevard Raspail, 75014 Paris, France
Metro/RER: Raspail or Denfert-Rochereau (Metro lines 4,6 or RER Line B)
Tel : +33(0)1 42 18 56 50
Fax: +33 (0)1 42 18 56 52
Visit the official website

Opening Hours and Tickets:

The Cartier Foundation is open every day excepting Monday, from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm. On Tuesdays, the center stays open until 10:00 pm for what it calls "nocturnes".
Closed: December 25th (Christmas Day) and January 1st.
The ticket counter closes every day at 5:15 pm.

Tickets: See this page for current ticket prices. The admission fee is reduced for students under 25 and for senior visitors with a valid photo ID. Entrance is free for visitors under the age of 18 on Wednesdays from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

Sights and Attractions Nearby:

Past Exhibits and Artists - Highlights:

The Fondation Cartier prides itself on discovering new talents in contemporary arts and in helping young artists gain international exposure and acclaim. Some of the artists "discovered" by curators at the Foundation include the following:

  • Designer Marc Newson gained considerable attention when his installation at the Fondation Cartier, "Bucky, From Chemistry to Design" drew large crowds interested in how he took the discovery of a new molecule and created furniture and objets d'art to emulate its shape.
  • Now-acclaimed video artist Pierrick Sorin had his major debut at the Foundation with a major video installation there in 1994.
  • Australian "hyperrealist" sculptor Ron Mueck was introduced to French admirers of contemporary arts with a show in 2005 at Cartier.
  • J'en reve was another major exhibit in 2005, highlighting the work of over 60 young artists from around the world. Many of these artists went on to achieve international recognition.
  • Malian photographers Seydou Keuta and Malick Sidibé were given solo shows in 1994 and 1995 respectively, and have since become acclaimed around the globe.
  • Japanese lenses such as Nobuyoshi Araki (in 1995) and Rinko Kawauchi (in 2005) debuted in Europe with shows at the Foundation. Compatriot neo-pop painter Takashi Murakami enjoyed a solo show there that was a major success, while more recently, in 2006, exhibits dedicated to the work of painter Tanadoori Yokoo and younger talent Tabaimo underlined the Foundation's interest in bringing vibrant developments in Japanese art to Europe.
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