Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume
Neighborhood: 1e Arrondissement
Nearest Subway Stop: Concorde (397 feet), Madeleine (1337 feet), Tuileries (1480 feet), Assemblée Nationale (1726 feet), Opéra (2599 feet)
Hours of Operation
11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
The Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume is a museum of contemporary art in the north corner (west side) of the Tuileries Gardens next to the Place de la Concorde in Paris.
The rectangular-shaped building was constructed in 1861 during the reign of Napoleon III. It originally housed real tennis courts; the name of this game in French is jeu de paume.
It was used from 1940 to 1944 to store Jewish cultural property looted by the Nazi regime's Reichsleiter Rosenberg Taskforce in France (see Rose Valland). These works included masterpieces from the collections of French Jewish families like the Rothschilds, the David-Weills, and the Bernheims. Hermann Göring commanded that the loot would first be divided between Adolf Hitler and himself. For this reason, from the end of 1940 to the end of 1942 he traveled twenty times to Paris. At Jeu de Paume, art dealer Bruno Lohse staged 20 expositions of the newly looted art objects, especially for Göring, from which Göring selected at least 594 pieces for his own collection. Some of the art was destined for the Führermuseum in Linz, while the Nazis attempted to sell so-called 'degenerate art' (modern art "unworthy" in the eyes of the Nazis) on the international art market. Unsold art (including works by Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí) were destroyed on a bonfire in the grounds of the Jeu de Paume on the night of 27 July 1942. French Resistance curator Rose Valland, who was working at the museum, kept a secret list of all the works passing through, and after the Nazi defeat in 1945, most of these works were thereby returned to their rightful owners.
Between 1947 and 1986, it contained the Musée du Jeu de Paume, which held many important impressionist works now housed in the Musée d'Orsay. Widely considered as the "most famous museum of impressionist painting in the world", the rooms bore names such as Salle Degas, Salle Cézanne, or Salle Monet. From 1989, as part of the Grands Projets of François Mitterrand, the building underwent a $10 million renovation by architect Antoine Stinco, resulting in about 12,700 square feet of exhibition space spread across three floors. The formerly walled-in reception hall was transformed into an atrium-like open area flooded with natural light from large bay windows, allowing views of the neighboring Tuileries Gardens, Place de la Concorde, and Eiffel Tower. The top floor features a series of skylighted galleries.
In 1991, the Jeu de Paume reopened as "France's first national gallery of contemporary art", with a exhibition devoted to Jean Dubuffet. Subsequent retrospectives were dedicated to international artists such as Marcel Broodthaers (1991), Robert Gober (1991), Ellsworth Kelly (1992), Helio Oiticica (1992), and Eva Hesse (1993). In 1999, the museum chose American architect Richard Meier as the subject of its first-ever architectural exhibition. Since 2004 the Jeu de Paume has developed into a centre for modern and postmodern photography and media, mounting survey exhibitions on Ed Ruscha (2006), Cindy Sherman (2006), Martin Parr (2009), and William Kentridge (2010), among others.
In popular culture
The museum's war episode was depicted in John Frankenheimer's 1964 film The Train, starring Burt Lancaster and Jeanne Moreau. In Sara Houghteling's novel, Pictures at an Exhibition (2009), the character of Rose Clément is based on Rose Valland.
The Jeu de Paume is subsidised by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication. Attendance increased from 200,000 visitors in 2006 to over 320,000 visitors in 2008.