‘Norman Foster’ at Centre Pompidou, Paris

From 10 May to 7 August 2023, Centre Pompidou in Paris held the largest Norman Foster retrospective, curated by Frédéric Migayrou in collaboration with the Norman Foster Foundation and Foster + Partners.

The largest retrospective spanning the entire oeuvre of Norman Foster’s work over the last six decades was held at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 2023.

Covering nearly 2,200 square-metres, the exhibition reviewed the different periods of the architect’s work, highlighting seminal projects, such as the headquarters of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (Hong Kong, 1979-1986), the Carré d’Art (Nîmes, 1984-1993), Hong Kong International Airport (1992-1998) and Apple Park (Cupertino, United States, 2009-2017).

Norman Foster, Founder and Executive Chairman, Foster + Partners and President, Norman Foster Foundation: ‘This exhibition traces the themes of sustainability and anticipating the future. The birth of the practice in the 1960’s coincided with the first signs of an awareness of the fragility of the planet. These were the green shoots of what would later be named The Green Movement. These principles may now be mainstream but more than half a century ago they were revolutionary and anticipated the reality of today. Throughout the decades we have sought to challenge conventions, reinvent building types and demonstrate an architecture of light and lightness, inspired by nature, which can be about joy as well as being eco-friendly.’

The exhibition was designed by Norman Foster and executed in collaboration with Foster + Partners and the Norman Foster Foundation.

The exhibition explored the architect’s work through the prism of seven themes: Nature and Urbanity; Skin and Bones; Vertical City; History and Tradition; Planning and Place; Networks and Mobility and Future. Drawings, sketches, original scale models and dioramas, along with many videos, enabled visitors to delve into 130 major projects.

Welcoming visitors at the entrance to the exhibition, a drawing gallery showcased items never seen before in France, consisting of drawings, sketchbooks, sketches and photographs taken by the architect.

Illustrating a resonance with Foster’s architecture, the display included works by Fernand Léger, Constantin Brancusi, Umberto Boccioni and Ai Weiwei, along with industrial creations, such as a glider and several classic automobiles, which have often served as sources of inspiration.

A 264-page catalogue accompanied the exhibition, presenting the architect’s work through the prism of eighty of his most significant projects. This monograph features three portfolios that showcase the early sources of inspiration for projects conducted in collaboration with Richard Buckminster Fuller, along with other drawings and sketches. This collective volume was published by Éditions du Centre Pompidou, under the direction of Frédéric Migayrou, curator of the exhibition.

The ‘Norman Foster’ exhibition was organised by the Centre Pompidou, with the collaboration of Foster + Partners and the Norman Foster Foundation. It brought together nearly 215 000 visitors, with 2 800 visitors per day.