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MoMA Comes to Paris as Louis Vuitton Foundation Show Opens

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Constantin Brancusi’s bronze sculpture “Bird in Space” (1928), center, is among the works that the Museum of Modern Art shipped from New York to Paris.

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Marc Domage/Louis Vuitton Fondation

PARIS — For those who consider New York’s Museum of Modern Art their hometown museum, encountering Constantin Brancusi’s bronze “Bird in Space” (1928) at the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris is akin to spotting an old friend while traveling in a foreign country.

“Well, that’s kind of what we’re going for,” said Glenn Lowry, MoMA’s director, who brought the Brancusi and more than 200 other artworks from his museum’s permanent collection to the Vuitton Foundation here in the 16th arrondissement for a new exhibition, “Being Modern: MoMA in Paris,” opening Wednesday (through Mar. 5).

“Bird in Space” is being shown in France for the first time, as are works by Andy Warhol, Barbara Kruger, Philip Guston, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Carl Andre, Christopher Wool and Romare Bearden. On view for the first time since its acquisition by MoMA is the curtain wall of the facade of the 1952 United Nations Secretariat Building in New York. The exhibition will also be both a homecoming for the Parisian Pointillist painter Paul Signac’s “Opus 217,” which was bequeathed to MoMA upon the death in March of the museum’s former chairman David Rockefeller, whom Mr. Lowry recalled accompanying to the current site in Mr. Rockefeller’s declining years. Among newer work is an early iteration of 176 digital emoji.

The show, which examines the history and the collection of MoMA, combines its renowned works in a new way by mixing disciplines while staying loosely chronological. The show, which extends across three floors of the Frank Gehry-designed Vuitton Foundation, presages how Mr. Lowry and MoMA’s curatorial teams are likely to present MoMA’s permanent collection anew come 2019, after its ongoing expansion.

The challenge in Paris of “telling the story of our collection is a great opportunity to experiment with ideas,” Mr. Lowry said, hastening to add that not all “are necessarily the same ideas that will emerge in 2019.”

He noted that the museum has been experimenting on its home turf with several exhibitions, including “Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction,” which earlier this year brought together art from various media and geographies.

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