From the port area north of the Rue de la Republique juts forth the pixelated prow of the new contemporary art center in Marseillle. Its inauguration on March 22-24 was one of the highlights of the calendar of events of the Marseille-Provence European Capital of Culture program.
Qu’est-ce qu’un Frac?
Every region in France has a Frac Fond Regional d’Art Contemporain (contemporary art fund), operating under a mandate to collect, show and educate. It serves both as a research and dissemination space and as a platform for education and exchange with the general public. The official Frac website states that “In France, culture is historically tied to public institutions, because we consider it not only a means of personal development, but also a tool to educate, spread knowledge, and form one’s mind and taste.” Taken collectively the Frac represents the third largest public collection of contemporary art in France, after those of the Cnap (Centre national des art plastiques, or National Collection of Contemporary Art) and the Musée national d’art moderne – Centre Georges Pompidou. The director of the Frac Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Pascal Neveux, describes the Frac as a laboratoire rather than a museum. He hopes it will eventually form an unequalled art and architecture circuit in this part of town.
“When there are social problems, culture mustn’t be neglected,” said Michel Vauzelle, Président of the Provence Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region when questioned by FranceTV about the investment of 21,5 million euros in a city known to be facing a challenging social juncture, “here we support young artists, the culture of today and of tomorrow. We are not just the region of Cezanne and Van Gogh.”
The building, designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, houses the museum, conference room, document center, office, and cafe in a triangle wedged into 3895 m2 (42.000 sq ft) as the best use possible of the available footprint. The architect says about the vision for this project, “the building consists of an alley that rises in a spiral, connected with outside terraces in a number of places, and you can breathe in the sea air and experience the ambience of this port city when you go out onto the terraces that float in the sky. The activities that are performed there draw the attention of the people walking on the ground, and create a type of connection between the city and the building, as well as daily life and art.”
The new FRAC PACA houses temporary exhibits and the permanent collection of 920 works by 426 international artists (including 36 works by US artists) and provides access to today’s major art movements.
FRAC Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
20 boulevard de Dunkerque
13002 Marseille. Tél. : 04 91 91 27 55