International Competitions in Architecture
A NEW MUSEUM FOR CONSTANTIN BRANCUSI - PARIS
The Brancusi Museum in Paris is not, and perhaps it shouldn’t be one of the most relevant buildings in the great city. Yet, the way it is conceived and built it shows a lack of spirit that we think is not quite congruous with The City of Lights.
Paris, and French culture in general, always “flirted” with the straight line and the ninety degrees angle. After all, Descartes was French. And its “urban trees” have cubistic coiffures, impossible to imagine anywhere else…
Yet, when one thinks of The Brancusi Museum designed by Renzo Piano and built in front of Centre George Pompidou, one cannot but be alarmed, since through this very banal construction Piano, and his clients, reduced the straight line and the above mentioned angle to sheer prose. There are many people who think, looking from the outside, that this building is not in fact a museum, but a public toilet. And certainly not a museum for Brancusi…!?!
The decision the French took to destroy the “shack-like studio” (as one monograph on Piano calls it) Brancusi left as a gift to Paris as the most genuine place to display his art (since he lived and worked there), was certainly a sad one. But this tristesse is at least doubly amplified by the building that in quite an uninspired and uninspiring mode Piano designed and built. After all, would we imagine Milarepa (the Tibetan mystic and poet), whose modern incarnation Brancusi claimed being, living and working in the quite rational, secular structure that this museum is…?!?
If we are to talk about architectural ecology, about corrective architecture, perhaps re-thinking and re-envisioning the way in which the subtle, “organic” work of Brancusi could and should be displayed, might not be futile. Let’s imagine we could re-design this building in such a way that we will do justice not only to Brancusi, but also to Paris, where, in the past, the straight line and the right angle found more inspired manifestations.
In other words, we invite you to not necessarily renounce the poetical capabilities that geometric simplicity could offer, but to re-envision a museum that is not a mere repository of the works of a complex sculptor, well known for his élan vital towards loftier spheres of being. We invite you to envision a building that speaks (nay, sings!) about the heart and the mind, and less about the physiological functions of some lower parts of the human body. Again, we do not ask you to design a flamboyant building, but a building that would correspond to the spirit of Brancusi’s work, in large measure neglected, or not quite well understood, by Renzo Piano.
Anyone who is unhappy with the current situation is invited to participate, Piano included, if self-criticism would make him want to try again.