Nouveau Nouvel

…or should it be “neuf?” Regardless, with buildings opening on both sides of the Atlantic this week, Dr. Evil is a busy man. The Musee du Quai Branly opens in Paris tomorrow, to much acclaim and more than a little controversy. President Chirac’s pet project is to be for Non-Western Art what the Louvre is for Western. In a televised announcement, he told the nation, “This museum is a symbol of a France that recognises the diverse cultures of the world.” Yet in typical imperialist fashion, it pillaged its works from others; in this case, the Musee des Arts Africains et Oceaniens and the Musee de l’Homme. Others believe that the museum perpetuates cultural sterotypes… Whatever, says I. It looks damn cool and it’s realy nice to see Nouvel working with solid forms and color.

The Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis (right) looks to be just as successful. I won’t waste my breath (or fingers, I guess) when Christopher Hawthorne has written such a great review for the LA Times.

“If ever a building deserved to be called sexy-ugly, it’s this one. Somehow sleek and ungainly at the same time, a brooding, preening pile of geometric forms that could hardly be less photogenic, particularly on the outside, the design manages to slide naturally into its industrial riverbank context and feel utterly up-to-date. In a manner that is truly French, the fact that the building seems aware of its imperfections doesn’t keep it from exuding a palpable vanity.”

Links aplenty:

  • A Dramatic Impact [Pioneer Press]
  • Minneapolis gets a taste of French style [ LA Times]
  • Imperialist? Moi? Not the Musee du Quai Branly [ New York Times]
  • That’s Amelie’s real new Paris[Times Online]
  • Musee du quai Branly : l’art et la science [Le Monde]
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    Jimmy Stamp

    Jimmy Stamp is a freelance writer, researcher, and recovering architect. He has contributed to The Guardian, Wired, Smithsonian, The Journal of Architectural Education, and many other websites and publications. His first book Pedagogy and Place: 100 Years of Architecture Education at Yale comes out in spring 2016. If you're looking for writer with a penchant for Piranesi and pop culture, or if you just want to say hi, you can find him on twitter @LifeSansBldgs or instagram or email him at

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