Metz, 14 February 2014,
Dear Dominique Gros, Mayor of Metz
Dear Jean-Luc Bohl, President of Metz Métropole
Dear Thibaut Villemin, Vice-President of the Lorraine Regional Council
Mr President of the Pompidou Centre, dear Alain Seban
Dear Laurent Le Bon, Director of the Centre Pompidou Metz
I would also like to acknowledge Bernard Blistène, the new director of the National Museum of Modern Art, and Alfred Pacquement, his predecessor, who also contributed to this very beautiful exhibition,
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,
I am extremely proud and happy to share this inauguration with you. Proud because this exhibition, which is a permanent exhibition of major works from the history of the XXe The Centre Pompidou-Metz will continue to shine even more brightly at the service of all our fellow citizens, our friends and our neighbours here in Lorraine.
The public at the Centre Pompidou-Metz is largely a regional audience. It wasn’t easy. Especially if we remember the discussions at the time the decision was made to set up the Centre here in Metz, when some people said to us, "There is no need for modern art in Lorraine, it is not for us modern art, we need more classical things."
The results of the Centre Pompidou-Metz are there. They have been there since its opening with more than two million visitors. It’s an extraordinary success, absolutely remarkable. A popular success that has never been at the expense of cultural and artistic demands. And that’s great.
This success is that of the team at the Centre Pompidou, Paris and Metz. I want to thank Alain Seban and Laurent Le Bon who have always looked after and supported the Centre Pompidou-Metz with great pride and commitment. I would also like to acknowledge the two wonderful curators of the “Phare” exhibition, and thank Elodie Stroecken and Claire Garnier for this remarkable work. These are young women, and I can’t hide the fact that this is an additional reason for satisfaction. Many thanks to the entire Centre team.
Thanks also to the local authorities who, alongside the State, have supported this cultural cooperation project represented by the Centre Pompidou-Metz. Local authorities are represented by Jean-Luc Bohl, President of Metz Métropole and Dominique Gros, Mayor of Metz, whom I greet. They are not of the same political sensibility but they have shown, since the opening of the Centre Pompidou-Metz, that there can be no attempt at political instrumentalization of culture.
Culture is the general interest. Culture, when we share the same ideal of common interest, is at the service of all. It must allow us to overcome divisions because it raises the soul and the spirit, whether we believe in heaven or not.
Culture is what brings us to share emotions, such as those we can feel in front of Fernand Léger, Robert Delaunay and all these extraordinary masterpieces that are presented here.
Culture is also the ideal of giving to see, of bringing those who, because of their family, social and professional environment, are not necessarily initially in contact with culture, to discover the masterpieces of the human spirit. How can we not be deeply upset in front of this curtain of Picasso when we know his story? How not to feel in front of this canvas by Fernand Léger, who traveled to the United States during those terrible years that knew the XXe century, the mark of great history? A history that is not only the history of art because artists are always witnesses of their time. This is what we must share with everyone because there is no citizen who is not, by nature, insensitive to the art and works that we see on display here.
The Centre Pompidou-Metz thus accomplishes this beautiful mission: to give everyone access to culture, beyond partisan divisions. And it is beyond these divisions that this must continue.
The State is invested. How?
It is invested first because this exhibition «Phare» is financed - and this was explained by Laurent Le Bon - thanks to the Lorraine Pact. A pact in the service of the economic redeployment of our region and that will allow us, with the State and the Region, since the Lorraine pact is financed equally by the State and the Region, to subsidize the 500,000 euros required to install and hang these works.
I am not afraid to talk about costs because the return on investment of these costs is much higher than the investment that was made. The study I commissioned from the General Inspectorate of Finance and the General Inspectorate of Cultural Affairs shows that in France, culture is a sector of excellence. We are proud of it. It is our identity and our dignity. It is what makes our reputation everywhere in France. That is also why we are the world’s leading tourist country.
Culture creates economic activity and accounts for 3.2% of gross domestic product. Let us not be afraid to talk about numbers either, because we keep hearing that culture should be sacrificed in times of crisis. No, culture is also economic wealth and attractiveness. Culture represents nearly 700,000 direct jobs in France.
Culture is employment in all territories and economic activity in all territories. This is what is new in the awareness of the weight of culture. In all regions of France, we have a strong desire to develop festivals, cultural institutions, museums. The more rural the regions and territories, the more investment helps to revitalize the territories. It was therefore important that culture and the Centre Pompidou-Metz be at the forefront of this Lorraine Pact.
Nor is the role of the State limited to financial support. All the works you see here are works that belong to you. These are works from the national collections, which means they are the works of the French Republic. They belong to all. They are therefore destined to be seen, loved and appreciated by all. That, dear Laurent Le Bon, is what makes the difference with the white whales stranded on the Spanish shores: in France, we have local authorities that engage in cultural policies, but do so with the State. The Centre Pompidou-Metz is this extraordinary alliance of community engagement - except for one - and exceptional loans from these exceptional collections, the national collections.
So here we have the representation of what could have been most beautiful, and not only in France - we must never have a nationalist vision of art or culture. Picasso is a fine example, he who was born in Spain. We don’t only exhibit French artists, and I want to salute Yan Pei-Ming, who made us the friendship of coming, from Dijon where he creates, and whose «The Survivors» are on display in the main hall. We are very proud that France welcomes artists who have so much talent.
These collections are yours. They belong to the French people. And the fact that they can be exhibited here in Metz for such a long time shows that France always makes an honor to put culture within everyone’s reach.
If I have been so insistent on arts and cultural education since I became Minister of Culture and Communication, it is because, for me, it is the key. It is through children who do not yet have psychological barriers, do not feel forbidden access to the museum and have not yet internalized all social obstacles, that we can create this beautiful feeling of equality before artistic emotion and access to art. This exhibition is also a magnificent tool for children, young people, students to understand the history of art of the XXe The European Union is a great example of this.
It is not necessary to ask what is the purpose of art. Art is an evidence that requires being able to be appropriate. This evidence implies that we can not only explain it but accompany it to help read, decipher, understand images. This does not prevent us from being moved at first glance by a web. But the more we learn about this discipline, the more the emotion is enriched.
The exhibition has a beautiful name, «Phare», in reference to Baudelaire’s poem. In reference to these paintings which are masterpieces and which are therefore beacons in the history of art. But also because the Centre Pompidou-Metz is today a beacon in the cultural and artistic landscape in France, Europe and the world. It is a beacon for our entire territory, for the city of Metz, for Metz Métropole and I also want to salute all the elected officials of Metz Métropole whom I know well and who are present today. It is a beacon for the department of Moselle which it is not normal that it does not participate in the funding of the Centre Pompidou-Metz. I regret it and I will never stop regretting it. It is a beacon for the Lorraine Region, and I know that Thibaut Villemin will ensure the permanence of this presence of the Region alongside us, as well as Jean-Pierre Moineau, Vice-President in charge of culture.
This lighthouse allows the influence of the whole region and, beyond borders, of the Greater Region, since we are lucky to be close to Luxembourg, Germany and Belgium.
So it’s a lighthouse for our region, for our territory. It’s not a lighthouse at night. On the contrary, I see it as a beacon that illuminates, that also gives us a way forward and opens up horizons. Here, we open up many horizons.
We are opening new horizons with this new exhibition «Phare». The work, which has been engaged for almost five years now on temporary exhibitions, will continue, just next week with the exhibition «Paparrazzi». There will still be many others under the talented leadership of Laurent Le Bon.
We are therefore fortunate to have this lighthouse that reminds us and gives us “the best testimony we can offer of our dignity”, as Baudelaire said in his poem “The Lighthouses”.
The Centre Pompidou-Metz, and this is a Lorraine speaking to you, someone who studied in Metz and who was born a little bit higher up in the region, would have loved, child and high school student, to have an institution like this at hand to learn and discover so much.
I am proud today, as Minister of Culture and Communication, to be able to inaugurate this exhibition, because the Centre Pompidou-Metz is making the most beautiful gift we have been able to give to Lorraine. This is the best opportunity our region has had in a long time. It is for all of us the greatest opportunity to change the image of the city and the whole region; to show that industrial history is not incompatible with artistic curiosity and commitment, and this is what all these artists testify to; to show, finally, that we too in Lorraine are entitled to the best. This is good because with the Centre Pompidou-Metz, we have the best.