The French Centre national des arts plastiques [CNAP, National Centre of Visual Arts] is a public institution attached to the French Ministry of Culture and Communication. Inheritor of French state patronage established in 1791, the CNAP has been fostering and supporting artistic creation in France and elsewhere in all areas of the visual arts, thanks to an annual budget of around 10 million euros. As an illustration the collection includes twenty or so photographers active in China over the past fifty years.
Last 24 January 2017, the CNAP held its annual conference during which Yves Robert - CNAP Director - mentioned key endeavours completed in the course of 2016, while announcing new developments ahead. The major announcement was the future change of location, moving from its current venue at la Défense business district to Pantin in Parisian suburbs. The purpose is to gain a more adequate collection storage space as the collection is unceasingly growing. Another announcement was particularly exciting: two significant loans consented to the Museum of Contemporary Art & Planning Exhibition (MOCAPE) in Shenzhen and the Chongqing University Museum.
Partnerships between the CNAP and international institutions is not new and 2017 marks a year filled with collaborations around the world, including with the Museo de Arte del Banco de la República (Bogota, Colombia). However there is an exceptional aspect of these two loans granted to China. During two years, Shenzhen’s MOCAPE and Chongqing University Museum will be able to display a selection of over a hundred artworks created by the young art scene in France, as well as pivotal artworks in the history of modern and contemporary European art.
For the moment, these two Chinese cultural institutions are under construction. While little is known about Chongqing University Museum, it is known that the MOCAPE has been designed by the Austrian architectural studio Coop Himmelb(l)au. The building combines two independent institutions – the museum of contemporary art (MOCA) and the planning exhibition (PE) – as a cultural meeting point and a venue for architectural exhibitions. It is part of the master plan for Shenzhen’s new urban centre, the Futian Cultural District, that hopes to establish itself as a new attraction in Shenzhen’s fast growing urban fabric. I strongly encourage the readers to keep posted on these very exciting cultural initiatives as they offer a promise for a long-term Sino-French relationship.