LaM – Lille Métropole Museum of Modern, Contemporary, and Outsider Art
The Lille Métropole Musée d’art moderne, d’art contemporain et d’art brut, also known by the acronym LaM, is a museum of modern art in Villeneuve d’Ascq, a French town part of the metropolitan area of Lille in the Hauts-de-France region.
The museum is renowned for its collections of art of the 20th and 21st century, as well as for its iconic building complex.
History and architecture
The LaM was founded in the early 1980s in order to publicly present the art collection French businessman Jean Masurel had bequeathed to the French state.
The building of the new museum, designed by architect Roland Simounet, was opened in November 1983. An imposing 9,000-square-meter brick-clad construction, clearly inspired by Louis Khan’s architectural style, the building by Simounet was declared a National Monument in 2000.
After the museum received a donation of a large number of works of Art Brut (also known as Outsider Art) by the association L’Aracine in the late 1990s, a building expansion was required to properly present the museum’s collections, amounting to over 6.500 pieces in total.
The iconic 2,700-square-meter extension of the LaM, designed by French architect Manuelle Gautrand and inaugurated in 2010, is an organic building consisting of five galleries, whose fluid form evokes a hand with its five fingers, opening onto a small central patio and the museum’s sculpture park through large windows coupled with concrete latticeworks.
Mostly made of white fiber-reinforced concrete, Gautrand’s expansion remarkably combines with the old building, though it doesn’t try to imitate or mimic it, as well as with the undulating landscape around.
Overall, the LaM Museum complex accommodates 4,000 square meters of exhibition space, 1000 of which reserved to special exhibitions, a 100-seat auditorium, a 40,000-volume library, workshops and education rooms, administration offices, a museum shop, a cafe-restaurant, and a remarkable sculpture park with works by Alexander Calder, Jacques Lipchitz, Pablo Picasso, and Richard Deacon.
A view of the LaM architectural complex, the building by Simounet is on the left, the Gautrand expansion on the right; photo © Max Lerouge
Collections of modern and contemporary art
The LaM museum’s collection is divided into three thematic sections.
Paying a special attention to Fauvism, Cubism, and Surrealism, the collection of modern art comprises paintings, drawings, and sculptures by some of the most eminent artists of the 20th century, including André Derain, Georges Braque, Fernand Léger, Henri Laurens, Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, Max Ernst, Paul Klee, and Joan Miró.
The collection of contemporary art covers various art movements, including Abstract Art from the 1960s to the 1980s, New Figuration, Conceptual Art, and Arte Povera; it features works by Pierre Soulages, Eduardo Arroyo, Richard Serra, Peter Stämpfli, Alighiero Boetti, Daniel Buren, Christian Boltanski, Allan McCollum, Harun Farocki, Mimmo Rotella, and Dennis Oppenheim, among others.
Finally, the Art Brut collection, the largest in France, comprises 3.500 works by outside artists such as Aloïse Corbaz, Joseph Crépin, Henry Darger, Auguste Forestier, Madge Gill, Augustin Lesage, Willem Van Genk, Adolf Wölfli, and Carlo Zinelli.
One of the rooms of the modern art permanent exhibition; photo © N. Dewitte / LaM
View of the permanent exhibition of contemporary art; in the foreground: Alan McCollum, Perfect Vehicles, 1988; in the background: Matt Mullican, Paris Street Map with Symbols, 2011; photo © N. Dewitte / LaM
Interior view of the expansion designed by Manuelle Gautrand; photo © Max Lerouge
Exterior view of the LaM complex from the museum’s park; photo © Max Lerouge
Lille Métropole Museum of Modern Art; ground floor plan, and longitudinal section
Exterior views of the LaM expansion; photos © Max Lerouge
Interior views of the expansion; photos © Max Lerouge
A view of the museum complex from the park; in the foreground, the sculpture “Woman with outstretched arms” by Pablo Picasso, 1962
Cover image: a view of the LaM architectural complex; photo © Max Lerouge