Jacques Chirac or the dialogue of cultures

Wednesday October 5, 2016: Jacques Chirac or the dialogue of cultures, Conference visit by Marie-Odile Fontaine Guide-lecturer.

Thanks to the kind invitation of the Friends of the Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac Museum, we were able to discover this fascinating exhibition commented enthusiastically by Madame Fontaine.

The course evokes both the evolution of the perception of primitive arts in the West and the anniversary of the ten years of the museum wanted by Jacques Chirac and his involvement in the knowledge of the early arts.
Between the Ashantis exhibited at the 1887 Acclimatization Garden and the 1931 International Colonial Exhibitions, a long journey has been made that no longer considers the African and Oceanic arts as the work of underdeveloped or "degenerate peoples". But to perceive them as an art in its own right. Artists such as Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse, Alberto Giacometti and Pablo Picasso will not only collect black art but also draw inspiration from it.
Jacques Chirac, yet very attached to his Corrèze, will pay homage to Martiniquais Aimé Césaire or Senegalese Léopold Sédar Senghor for their part to the movement of affirmation of negritude. It is he, who presides over the pantheonization of Alexandre Dumas, will say: “The Republic today is not satisfied with paying the honors to the genius of Alexandre Dumas. It fixes an injustice. This injustice which marked Dumas from his childhood as it already marked with an iron the skin of his slave ancestors… ”.


Alfred Chaubrac (1853-1902). Poster Zoological Garden of Acclimatization - Ashantis. 1887. Chaimont. Dutailly collection


Male figure bembe. Congo (before 1930). Wood, seashell, pearls. Former Guillaume Apollinaire collection. Quai Branly Museum.


Anthropomorphic Figurine. Sahara. Towards the 4th millennium before our era.Pierre. Quai Branly Museum.


Statue of a man. Egypt, Late Period (399-300 BC). Wood. Louvre Museum.

On November 16, 1995, before the General Assembly of Unesco, Jacques Chirac declared: “I encourage Unesco to be more than ever the laboratory of ideas that the world so badly needs; a bridge built between all cultures, with respect for each of them… ”. For him, cultural diversity should be considered as one of the pillars of sustainable development "every time a culture disappears, a language disappears, it is the culture of the world that is weakened". He decisively supported the development and then the adoption of a Convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions which was voted in 2005.
André Malraux, through his imaginary museum, popularized the idea that works of all times and all cultures are capable of dialogue.
The influence of Claude Levi-Strauss is also very strong, which refuses any hierarchy of values ​​between cultures. Jean Malaurie, passionate about the Inuit (The last Kings of Thule) edited Sad tropics by Claude Lévi-Strauss in the “Terre humaine” collection. Bonds of friendship united Jean Malaurie to Jacques Chirac.
In 1960, the first volume of the collection “The Universe of Forms” directed by André Malraux, will be followed by 41 works which offer a vast panorama of the history of civilizations, ranging from Sumer to Oceania via cultures. classics from the West, the Near East, Africa or pre-Columbian America.
It is also in 1960, that the Colonial Museum becomes the Museum of African and Oceanic Arts. In 2003, his collections as part of those of the Museum of Man are devolving to the future museum of Quai Branly.
In 1972 is inaugurated the first edition of Autumn Festival wanted by Georges Pompidou. This festival offers a program open to all the cultures of the world that become more and more familiar to the public.


Overmodeled skull. Papua New Guinea. Skull. Quai Branly Museum.


Reliquary bust of Saint Hernin. End of the 14th century. Gold Silver. Locarn. Heritage House.


Head of Khmer female divinity. Cambodia. End of the 10th century. Sandstone. MNAA Guimet.

In 1972 is inaugurated the first edition of Autumn Festival wanted by Georges Pompidou. This festival offers a program open to all the cultures of the world that become more and more familiar to the public.
The influence of Georges Pompidou on his young collaborator then minister was decisive and Jacques Chirac considered himself the repository of the cultural and political heritage of Georges Pompidou and made sure that the project of the Pompidou Center was completed.
Jacques Chirac, following the model of François Mitterrand who had distributed gifts received during his two septennates between various institutions, decided to donate those he received in the department of Corrèze and that is how was born the President Jacques Chirac Museum in Sarran.
During his tenure as mayor of Paris, then as president, Jacques Chirac will have the opportunity to appreciate the Chinese civilization and he gains a reputation of enlightened amateur, maintained by its relations with the museums Guimet and Cernuschi.
The “Seasons” or “Crossing Years” devoted by France to the culture of a foreign country for several decades invite the public, in Paris and in the regions, to familiarize themselves with all foreign cultural forms.
Jacques Chirac's passion for Japan will mobilize the institutions of the City of Paris on projects aimed at making known the cultural richness of this country. In 1982, a pact of friendship united Paris and Tokyo and the Tokyo Season in Paris, in 1986, program a set of exceptional events (exhibitions, Kabuki performances, sumo tournament).


Lei vase. Late 11th-early 10th century BCE. Western Zhou Dynasty. Bronze. Cernuschi Museum.


Pyxid in the name of Isma'il. Spain. Cuenca.11th century. Ivory. Narbonne, Saint-Just-et-Saint-Pasteur cathedral.


Bamileke drum. Cameroon. XIIIth century. Wood. Quai Branly Museum.

In 1987, the Institute of the Arab World is inaugurated by President François Mitterrand and his Prime Minister Jacques Chirac. This institution associating France with about twenty Arab countries was well in the direction of its conviction that it was necessary to strengthen the links between France and the Arab world through increased cultural exchanges.
The year 2003 saw the refusal of President Jacques Chirac to participate in the Iraq war and the project to open a department devoted to the arts of Islam at the Louvre museum in order to "recall the major contribution of civilizations of the 'Islam to our culture'. This department will open its doors in 2012 allowing the public to discover the incredible wealth of the national collections.
The meeting between Jacques Chirac and Jacques Kerchache, recognized as one of the best experts in “primitive arts”, will be decisive. It is on his suggestion that, to mark the discovery of what will become America, 1982 will see an exhibition dedicated to the Taïnos, people of the Greater Antilles who will disappear following the conquest. In 1999, President Chirac will be the first head of state to visit Nunavut, an autonomous territory devolved to the Inuit by Canada and, in 2004, will inaugurate the exhibition “Inuit, when the word takes shape” at the Musée de l'Homme. .
His interest in sustainable development has never wavered and his speech in Johannesburg in 2002 is further proof of this: “Our house is on fire and we are looking elsewhere. The mutilated, over-exploited nature fails to replenish itself and we refuse to admit it. (…) The earth and humanity are in danger and we are all responsible for it. ".
After his election in 1995, President Chirac set up a committee to reflect on the place of primitive arts in French museums. In 1998, it was decided to build the Quai Branly Museum Establishment. The competition launched in 1999 resulted in the choice of architect Jean Nouvel for the construction of the museum. Already, in 1995, Jacques Chirac had announced the opening of rooms to present the masterpieces of “primitive arts” and the pavilion known as “Sessions” will thus see the light of the day in 2000. The company of Friends of the museum of the quai Branly, created in 2002, will strongly contribute to the enrichment of the collections as well as the acquisition policy led by the museum. In addition, during all the years of gestation of the museum, a vast inventory, documentation and restoration project is undertaken. The inauguration of the museum will take place on June 20, 2006 in the presence of many personalities including Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the UN, Abdou Diouf, President of the International Organization of La Francophonie, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Jean Malaurie, Rigoberta Menchu, Paul Okalik or even Marie-Claude Tjibaou.
In 2008, Jacques Chirac creates a foundation for the prevention of conflicts and encouraging the dialogue of cultures. It is from 2009 that this foundation awards an annual prize to personalities who have committed themselves to these causes dear to the former head of state.


Pou Whakairo Maori statue. New Zealand. Wood. François Pinault Collection.


Chupicuara female statue. Mexico. 600 av. our era-200 of our era. Terracotta. Quai Branly Museum.



Adel Abdelssemed (born in 1971). Pigeon. 2014. Rubber. François Pinault Collection.


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