Kanal Brut by Kanal – Centre Pompidou
In a resolutely experimental move, one of the jewels of 1930s industrial architecture in Brussels—the former Citroën building—has been transformed into a platform for reflection on the challenges facing the museum of the future. Extending throughout the huge, recently decommissioned spaces, which have been left in their original state, is a multidisciplinary show of works drawn from the collections of the National Museum of Modern Art at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
A variety of artistic trails across the site endeavour to give a sense not only of the building’s identity but also of its human and social back-story, almost tangible to visitors as they make their way through workshops or offices. Removed from the hallowed surroundings of the museum and placed in this industrial environment, the artworks respond to a fresh set of stimuli. In the ‘raw’ space, the dividing-line between art and life seems for a moment to dissolve, as one of the mythic principles of modern art—the fusion of art with life—is put to the test.
The book to which this museum experiment has given rise offers readers a chance not only to make numerous artistic discoveries but also to take a stroll through the heart of this extraordinary building. The aesthetic qualities of the place, particularly evident on the first floor of the workshop, are accentuated by the presence of large-scale works such as Jean Prouvé’s Maison tropicale, Toyo Ito’s PAO II, and Ross Lovegrove’s Pavilion.
The building’s social history, meanwhile, is highlighted in a series of displays comprising photographs, film, design, and three-dimensional works. These ensembles are positioned in various areas—workshops, offices, kitchen, changing rooms—and make reference to the purposes for which these spaces were used.
Visual arts, design, architecture, works produced by artists resident in Brussels, and live events intermingle in this publication, inviting the reader to experience art outside the usual context.