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5.8.05

Contemporary Art in Dunkerque

Lieu d'Art et Action contemporain (LAAC), DunkerqueThe Musée d'art contemporain in Dunkerque, in northern France on the Channel coast, has been closed for nearly eight years. The city has reopened their modern art museum this summer as the Lieu d'Art et Action contemporain (LAAC). Claude Lorent wrote about a visit there (A Dunkerque, la renaissance du LAAC, July 29) for La Libre Belgique (my translation):

Like many museums, both of ancient and contemporary art, this one essentially holds the collection of a man who fell in love with contemporary art, in the early 70s and has put together a collection, mostly pictures, which he soon wanted to be accessible to the public in his region, Dunkerque in the Nord-Pas de Calais. This man, Gilbert Delaine, is not an industrial baron with an immense fortune. He is a high-level bureaucrat in the Ministry of the Environment, but he lives and works in a port city in a major economic and demographic expansion, Dunkerque.
There is another article (Le feu au LAAC, July 9) by Maurice Ulrich for L'Humanité, too. Jean Willerval originally designed the "very unusual building, on three floors, rather spread out, whose square rooms are arranged around a central well of light." It was meant to appear modern while also recalling the look of medieval fortifications. The design was a good example of how what happens when ideas win out over practical considerations in building architecture. As you can see in the picture, the building is sunk part way into a lake, and as water is wont to do, it began to leak into the exhibition space. Benoît Grafteaux and Richard Klein handled the renovation work. An interesting example of a private collection turned into a museum, the LAAC has to share the town of Dunkerque with the Fonds Régional d'Art Contemporain (Frac) Nord-Pas de Calais, which has a snazzy Web site and a more interesting collection.

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