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France / Centre Pompidou-Metz

Simple Shapes at Centre Pompidou-Metz

How simple shapes inspired modernity in art

Since the dawn of time, a handful of simple shapes have transcended cultures, geography and the passage of time. In association with the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès, the Centre Pompidou Metz presents a major exhibition devoted to these strangely familiar, universal forms.

Fondation d'Entreprise Hermès - Simple Shapes at Centre Pompidou-Metz
© Formes Simples au Centre Pompidou-Metz

What do a carved Cycladic head, an installation by Anish Kapoor, and Brancusi’s Bird in Space have in common? All are simple, plain, replete forms embodying a kind of artistic energy at work, often in resonance with the natural world. Each is the product of careful negotiation between their creator’s choices and the demands of physics.

A new exhibition at the Centre Pompidou Metz gathers over 200 works exploring modernity in art through this formal heritage, handed down from ancient societies to the present.

Exhibition curator and art critic Jean de Loisy – president of the Palais de Tokyo, Paris – is well versed in the cross-disciplinary history of simple shapes. The product of art, nature or machine tools, each piece, he says, ‘touches our collective sensibility in the most direct way.’ Many are ‘inaugural’ works, yet each has a logical, ‘inevitable’ quality, too. 

Simple Shapes examines our perception of modernity in art, embracing cultures across time and space, united by their focus on form. Arranged in 18 themed sections, this meditative exhibition highlights an infinite tissue of influence, reference and convergence.

Inspired by the universality of shape, the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès has co-produced the event from the outset, with the Centre Pompidou Metz, reinforcing our commitment to ethical patronage and new shapes of public/private partnership. Simple Shapes offers a new, panoramic, cross-disciplinary approach to the history of art, reflecting the core mission of the Centre Pompidou Metz.

>> Discover the exhibition on video

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Curators: Jean de Loisy

Associate curators: Mouna Mekouar, Sandra Adam-Couralet