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All of history

The Pompidou Centre in Paris is celebrating its 20th anniversary with an ambitious exhibition on the relationship between 20th century politics and art. Matthew Reisz is impressed

By Matthew Reisz   April 1997

The pompidou centre’s Face ?  l’Histoire (1933-1996), assembles 450 works by some 200 artists-from Klee to Kollwitz, Moore to Magritte, Kokoschka to Warhol-and invites us to look at them politically. It is a dizzyingly ambitious exhibition.

The long central corridor starts with Soviet propaganda posters and images of Nazi athleticism giving way to magazines such as Life, Picture Post and Paris Match to sketch in the historical background. Branching off are rooms with paintings and sculptures grouped chronologically and thematically.

Such a layout inevitably places the stress on how different artists responded to the same external events. Yet the curators…

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