French tycoon plans gallery for derelict car plant

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Coming soon - Tate Modern-sur-Seine. Literally sur-Seine. Paris is hoping to see a derelict industrial site on its river converted into a gallery dedicated to modern art, as happened in London. For the French capital, however, this will be its third large-scale contemporary art museum.

Coming soon - Tate Modern-sur-Seine. Literally sur-Seine. Paris is hoping to see a derelict industrial site on its river converted into a gallery dedicated to modern art, as happened in London. For the French capital, however, this will be its third large-scale contemporary art museum.

The tycoon, François Pinault, owner of Gucci, Christie's and the Printemps department store group, plans to build a gallery to house his own collection and to promote the contemporary arts, from painting to sculpture and videos.

He will take over one-third of the 20-acre site of a derelict Renault plant - the first car factory in France - on an island in the Seine at Boulogne-Billancourt, just outside the Paris boundary.

The Boulogne-Billancourt factory was once the epitome of French working-class power. It was here that the writer and left-wing activist Jean-Paul Sartre came to harangue the workers during the student revolt of May 1968.

Since Renault abandoned the site nine years ago, a battle has raged between those who wish to preserve the buildings and those who want to redevelop one of the last big pieces of vacant real estate in or near the capital. The redevelopers appear to have won.

Under the plans announced by the Pinault foundation, the plant will be demolished. One- third of the land will be occupied by the Pinault museum and its grounds. Almost half the island will become a park. The rest - plus another 80 acres owned by Renault on the banks of the Seine nearby - will accommodate offices, hi-tech industries, homes and a scientific university.

Paris already has two museums of modern and contemporary art: a national museum in the Centre Georges Pompidou and the modern art museum near Trocadero. The Pinault museum is likely to focus on contemporary late 20th-century and 21st-century work, using as its core the businessman's extensive collection - which has never been on public show before.

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