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<span class="alinea"></span>For centuries, France has had a complicated relationship with its provinces—something we used to say, but which we rarely do today. As far back as the fifteenth century, the immensely talented François Villon wrote in his <i>Ballad of the Women of Paris</i>, “il n’est bon bec que de Paris” (“there is no tongue like one from Paris”). During the twentieth century, and into the twenty-first, this distance remained and even grew, as the capital increasingly
dominated the political, economic, and cultural landscape of the country; so much so that in 1947 the geographer Jean-François Gravier described the city’s “macrocephaly” in his famous <i>Paris and the French Desert</i>. It is interesting to note that at the time of his writing, a solution to this lack of equilibrium was being set in motion: policies promoting the democratization of culture through decentralization, outlined and championed by Jeanne Laurent and others. 1947 was also the year the Festival d’Avignon was established. The foundations for this policy had been established, under the Front Populaire, by the great Jean Zay, Minister of National Education and Fine Arts. André Malraux, with the Maisons de la Culture, and his successors, would build on that edifice, encouraged by the increased awareness, on the part of local elected representatives, of the importance of cultural development in establishing an equilibrium and promoting their cities. Today, with high-speed trains, planes, and Internet, distances are easier to cross; time moves faster; the offerings of the different regions are outstanding; as evidence, the cultural boom of many cities.
<span class="alinea"></span>A French collection with an international vocation, anchored in Venice, and soon, in the heart of Paris, the Pinault Collection has embraced this new set of circumstances and the opportunity to travel across the world. Contributing works to exhibitions in Washington, Zurich, New York, Mexico, and Shenzhen; welcoming Brazilian artist Lucas Arruda to its residency in Lens; this summer, presenting in Rennes, in the renovated Couvent des Jacobins, an exhibition that brings together works by celebrated artists with younger artists emerging on the contemporary scene, such as Vincent Gicquel, a local artist who lives and works in Bordeaux. François Pinault went to the Aubrac region, in Laguiole, to seek out Michel and Sébastien Bras and invited them to bring their inventive, sophisticated, and sincere cuisine to the Bourse de Commerce. These talented chefs from across France will provide visitors with a fine-dining experience that complements and enhances their encounter with an exceptional collection and building. As a country boy myself, I dedicated my long career to promoting the cultural development of the entire country, including during my tenure at the Centre Pompidou, and so I applaud the Pinault Collection's ambitious new undertaking.