Jean Nouvel

Centre Pompidou
Place Georges-Pompidou
November 14, 2001–January 4, 2002

There may be no greater disappointment in Paris than Jean Nouvel’s Institut du Monde Arabe, a small but well-hyped building on the Seine. Images of the institute, splashed far and wide after it opened in 1988, showcased its defining feature: a glass wall sandwiching self-adjusting apertures that form a pattern like a high-tech moucharaby. Get it? The Arab world modernized, in one beau architectural geste! Unfortunately, a visit reveals the devices to be sorry contraptions of loose springs and stamped tin. Better to stick with the pictures. At the Jean Nouvel retrospective curated by Chantal Béret there are no models, no drawings—just images, perfect images, on the walls.