Cloth $54.00 ISBN: 9780226680682 Published October 2007
Paper $22.50 ISBN: 9780226680705 Published October 2007

Paris Primitive

Jacques Chirac's Museum on the Quai Branly

Sally Price

Sally Price

224 pages | 10 halftones, 1 map | 6 x 9 | © 2007
Cloth $54.00 ISBN: 9780226680682 Published October 2007
Paper $22.50 ISBN: 9780226680705 Published October 2007
In 1990 Jacques Chirac, the future president of France and a passionate fan of non-European art, met Jacques Kerchache, a maverick art collector with the lifelong ambition of displaying African sculpture in the holy temple of French culture, the Louvre. Together they began laying plans, and ten years later African fetishes were on view under the same roof as the Mona Lisa. Then, in 2006, amidst a maelstrom of controversy and hype, Chirac presided over the opening of a new museum dedicated to primitive art in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower: the Musée du Quai Branly.

Paris Primitive recounts the massive reconfiguration of Paris’s museum world that resulted from Chirac’s dream, set against a backdrop of personal and national politics, intellectual life, and the role of culture in French society. Along with exposing the machinations that led to the MQB’s creation, Sally Price addresses the thorny questions it raises about the legacy of colonialism, the balance between aesthetic judgments and ethnographic context, and the role of institutions of art and culture in an increasingly diverse France. Anyone with a stake in the myriad political, cultural, and anthropological issues raised by the MQB will find Price’s account fascinating.
Choice
"It takes a muckraker to piece together such a sordid tale, and Price is up to the challenge. By turns breezy, gossipy, provocative, insouciant, and aggravating, she is generally perspicacious, entertaining, and enlightening."
James Volkert | Museum
"A crackling good story."
Lawrence Guy Straus | Journal of Anthropological Research
"This is a fascinating, entertaining, and troubling book. I read it in one (transatlantic) sitting and recommend it highly."
R.C. Rosbottom | French Review
"A riveting story of how museums literally become pieces of a board game of professional and political one-upmanship. All of the major issues confronting France (and Europe) today are present in this short history. . . . A superb lens through which to see the debates about 'otherness' and current French preoccupations with it."
Contents
Opening Notes
Where to Begin 
 
JACQUES AND JACQUES
The Primal Moment
The President’s Secret Garden
The Passionate Connoisseur
Good-bye, Columbus 
 
MUSEUMS IN THE CITY OF LIGHT
The State of Culture
The Grandest Museum in the World 
 
THE MOVE TO THE LOUVRE
Down with Hierarchy
Getting Started
Cohabitation
In-House Rumblings
A Dream Come True
Artifactual Question Marks 
 
THE ORGAN DONORS
Trouble at the Trocadéro
Resistance Movement
Colonies and Crocodiles
Musical Chairs 
 
AN ANTI-PALACE ON THE SEINE
The Turn to Concrete
Preparing the Transplants
Behind the Hairy Wall
Glass, Gardens, and Aborigines
A River Runs Through It
Art of Darkness
 
Epilogue: Cultures in Dialogue? 
 
BACK MATTER
An American in Paris
Contributing Voices
Notes
Bibliography
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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