Picture Courtesy of Power Station of Art.

Exhibition in Shanghai

Jean Nouvel, in my head, in my eye… belonging…

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About the exhibition

From November 7th, 2019 to March 1st, 2020, the Power Station of Art presents, in collaboration with Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, the first solo exhibition in China of Pritzker Architecture Prize winner and Venice Architecture Biennale Golden Lion Award recipient, French architect Jean Nouvel. Rather than an usual architectural display, Nouvel will transform the exhibition room into a theater filled with light and shadow for his exhibition titled Jean Nouvel, in my head, in my eye… belonging… It will debut a three-and-a-half-hour film produced by Nouvel, as well as six works of art based on his architecture, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in what inspired Nouvel’s design practice, thus entering his thoughts and emotions.

With more than 200 construction projects worldwide, Jean Nouvel is perhaps one of the most prolific architects in the world. However, Nouvel has always pursued change and innovation. Since the beginning of his career, he has continuously opposed internationally sterotyped architecture. Nouvel instead pays attention to the local context and emotion of buildings. With the help of new technologies and materials, he creates a harmonious relationship between his buildings, the surrounding environment, and their historical context that resonates with people. For Nouvel, light is an important architectural element. He excels in using light to reveal the complexity and diversity of different spaces in the building and to create a unique narrative of fluidity.

Nouvel often mentions that the roles of architects and film directors are similar, and that the process of creating a building is like shooting a movie. Making use of his first exhibition in China, Jean Nouvel has achieved his “dream of directing”—his first film will premiere at the Power Station of Art. The three-and-a-half hour film features more than 100 construction projects by Nouvel around the world. Through poetic shots and montages accompanied by the architect's dream-like narration, the film is a reflection of Nouvel's architectural career and shows his concern for the world and life. Originating in his self-consciousness, thought, and imagination, Nouvel believes that this exhibition will be “a rebellion against orthodoxy.” Supported by video as a medium, the variety of situations in Nouvel’s mind are transferred into a physical form and rhythm, making his efemeral memories become eternal and inspire new discussions.

In addition to the film, the exhibition will present works of art based on six representative buildings from Nouvel's creative career, namely the “Lucerne Culture and Convention Center;” the “Tête Défense;” the “Tour Sans Fins;” the “Fondation Cartier pour l'art Contemporain” in Paris; the “Galeries Lafayette” department store in Berlin; and the“53W53” glass tower which, among other, hosts as an extension to the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

As a part of the PSA series “Architecture & City” Exihibitions and Researches, this exhibition will not only present the architect’s cultural standing and emotional belonging in a different way, but also showcase how light and shadow magiccan illuminate the emotion and power of architecture, opening up multiple approaches to understanding architecture for the audience.

I have always been responsive to the architecture of light. Indeed my prime ambition is often to make buildings that stand in a spatial continuum, that belong to the air. Paradoxically, this play on dematerialization probably makes the Fondation Cartier the building the most permeated by its site that I have managed to create.
Jean Nouvel

Jean Nouvel

After he enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux, Jean Nouvel ranked first in the entrance examination of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1966 and obtained his degree in 1971. Assistant to the architect Claude Parent and inspired by urban planner and essayist Paul Virilio, he started his first architecture practice in 1970. He became a founding member of the “Mars 1976” Movement whose purpose was to oppose the architects’corporatism and then a founder of French Architecture Union.

His works have gained worldwide recognition through numerous French and International prizes and rewards. In 1989, The Arab World Institute in Paris was awarded the Aga-Khan Prize because of its role as “a successful bridge between French and Arab cultures.” In 2000, Jean Nouvel received the Lion d’or of the Venice Biennale. In 2001, he received three international awards: the Royal Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Praemium Imperial of Japan’s Fine Arts Association and the Borromini Prize for the Culture and Conference Center in Lucerne. He was appointed Docteur Honoris Causa of the Royal College of Art in London in 2002. Three years later, he received the annual prize of the Wolf Foundation in Israel “for providing a new model of contextualism and redefining the dialectic between the two salient characteristics of contemporary architecture: concreteness and ephemerality.” Jean Nouvel was the recipient of the prestigious Pritzker Prize in 2008. In France, he has received many prizes including the Gold Medal from the French Academy of Architecture, two “Équerre d’Argent” and the National Grand Prize for Architecture.

PSA « Architecture & City » Exhibitions and Researches

In 2013, PSA initiated its thematic program – “Architecture & City” Exhibitions and Researches, providing themed exhibitions, holding seminars, and supporting publishing plans every year. Through architecture as a comprehensive social device, PSA is hoping to tell stories between cities and their inhabitants, as well as explore the intricate relations between individual, space and power mechanism. Until now, the museum has held exhibitions in this field including Piece by Piece: Renzo Piano Building Workshop (2015), Mobile Architecture: Yona Friedman (2015), Bernard Tschumi – Architecture: Concept & Notation (2016), Ordinary Metropolis – Shanghai: A Model of Urbanism (2016), Balkrishna Doshi: Celebrating Habitat – The Real, the Virtual & the Imaginary (2017), Superstudio 50 (2017), The Rise of Modernity: The First Generation of Chinese Architects from the University of Pennsylvania (2018), Hélène Binet: Dialoghi, Works from 1988 to 2018 (2019), and Junya Ishigami, Freeing Architecture (2019).

Image gallery


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Jean Nouvel and la Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain

The profound long-term relationship between Jean Nouvel and the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain dates back to the late 80s. In those days, the Fondation Cartier was located near Paris, in Jouy-en Josas. Cartier asked the architect Jean Nouvel, who was then at the beginning of his career, to conceive an extension project for the Fondation Cartier. Although this building never saw the light of day, Cartier, the Fondation Cartier and Jean Nouvel from then on were engaged in an enduring conversation.


When the Fondation Cartier eventually decided to move to Paris, boulevard Raspail, in the Montparnasse neighborhood, Jean Nouvel was commissioned to create a new building on the site of the former American Center. This building was to be his second cultural architectural project in Paris, after l’Institut du Monde arabe. In 1994, the Fondation Cartier thus inaugurated its new building designed by Jean Nouvel. With its impressive glass galleries that open onto the surrounding garden, and the reflections of trees, plants, and sky on the layered glass façades, this building disorients the visitor while at the same time envelops him in peaceful natural environment. The transparency, the blurring of boundaries between interior and exterior gives the visitor the lasting impression that the building is dematerialized.

The architecture of the Fondation Cartier sets the tone for its artistic program. The Fondation invites artists to conceive site-specific temporary exhibitions in a dialogue with the building. Its innovative architecture, and the creative possibilities it offers, inspires the Fondation Cartier’s groundbreaking program. Like the building, which is open to the outside world, the Fondation Cartier’s programming is also open to all artistic disciplines bringing together in its spaces cinema, visual arts, the science, fashion design, music. Flexibility perfectly defines both Jean Nouvel's building and the Fondation Cartier's way of programming and producing exhibitions. From one exhibition to the next, each artist approaches the building in a different way, either leaving the space completely open to the outside or creating a space that is completely closed. The fact that artists can reinvent the building’s gallery space with each new exhibition is what gives the Fondation Cartier’s its specific identity.

This long-lasting collaboration between Jean Nouvel and the Fondation Cartier demonstrates the Fondation’s continuous commitment to its community of artists, and Jean Nouvel will remain an important partner in the future projects of the Fondation Cartier.