Jean Nouvel's glass and steel building, an exhibition centre with Cartier's offices above, is as much a work of art as the installations inside. Shows by artists and photographers often have wide-ranging themes, such as 'Birds' or 'Desert'. Live events around the shows are called Nuits Nomades.
From among the uniforms, pistols, carriages, official decrees and fumigation tongs emerge snippets of history: during the 1871 Siege of Paris, hot-air balloons and carrier pigeons were used to get post out of the city, and boules de Moulins, balls crammed with hundreds of letters, were floated down the Seine in return, mostly never to arrive. The second section covers French and international philately.
The sculptor Antoine Bourdelle (1861-1929), a pupil of Rodin, produced a number of monumental works including the modernist relief friezes at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, inspired by Isadora Duncan and Nijinsky. The museum includes the artist's apartment and studios, which were also used by Eugène Carrière, Dalou and Chagall. A 1950s extension tracks the evolution of Bourdelle's equestrian monument to General Alvear in Buenos Aires, and his masterful Hercules the Archer. A new wing by Christian de Portzamparc houses bronzes, including various studies of Beethoven in different guises.
Opened in 2003, this two-floor gallery is dedicated to the work of acclaimed photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. It consists of a tall, narrow atelier in a 1913 building, with a minutely catalogued archive, open to researchers, and a lounge on the fourth floor screening films. In the spirit of Cartier-Bresson, who assisted on three Jean Renoir films and drew and painted all his life (some drawings are also found on the fourth floor), the Fondation opens its doors to other disciplines with three annual shows. The convivial feel of the Fondation - and its Le Corbusier armchairs - fosters relaxed discussion with staff and other visitors.
When Constantin Brancusi died in 1957, he left his studio and its contents to the state, and it was later moved and rebuilt by the Centre Pompidou. His fragile works in wood and plaster, the endless columns and streamlined bird forms show how Brancusi revolutionised sculpture.
This is one of the most intimate museums in Paris, a rare peaceful, almost secret corner where you can also get a good dose of modern art. The former studio of Russian-born Cubist sculptor Ossip Zadkine was converted into a museum in 1932, and has always had a particular charm, conserving the spirit of the place where the sculptor and his wife, painter Valentine Prax, lived for more than 40 years. A renovation and re-opening in autumn 2012 has cemented and invigorated this success.The reception area is complete with a traditional samovar providing tea for visitors; beyond this is a procession of small light-filled rooms, all glass ceilings and dark wood floors, white walls and fittings. The sculptures in wood, stone, plaster and clay are given new life in this fresh new setting (particularly ‘Rebecca’, a large sculpture of a water-carrier that's bathed in natural light). There’s barely a wink to Valentine Prax, just a solitary canvas hung at the head of a staircase: Zadkine is the master of this place, dominated by his angular portraits, and women’s bodies carved out of tree trunks in African-inspired elliptical forms. Don’t miss the garden planted with stylised bronze statues (including the famous ‘Monument à la Ville détruite de Rotterdam’), to extend your experience of avant-garde Montparnasse which, in Zadkine’s time, was the haunt of Amedeo Modigliani, Blaise Cendrars and Arthur Miller.