Parisian pride is prodigious. Lately, however, while New York has been gloating over its apparent conquest of cultural, political, and economic hegemony in the Western world, the French capital has seemed spiritually, intellectually, creatively to have fallen onto rather despondent times. Something indeed prodigious has clearly been needed to do the city proud once again as a center of civilization second to none. A rudimentary attempt to satisfy this need brought into being a decade ago the Georges Pompidou National Center for Art and Culture, the riposte of Paris to New York’s Museum of Modern Art. It was hideous and pretentious, a fiasco. The Pompidou Center is a public toy like the Eiffel Tower, not a select abode for art. What was wanted instead was something audacious but sure, something nobody else could achieve but everybody in the world must want to see, something superlative but simple, miraculously imaginative but serenely self-evident...


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