Les années 1980, l’insoutenable légèreté Photography and Film at the Centre Pompidou in Paris

From February 24, 2016 to May 23, 2016
  • The Cost of Living - Punk with her Mother, 1986

    The Cost of Living - Punk with her Mother, 1986

    © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI/Jean-Claude Planchet/Dist. RMN-GP” copyright de l’oeuvre : “© Martin Parr / Magnum Photos

  • Paradeis Florence

    Paradeis Florence

    © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI/Georges Meguerditchian/Dist. RMN-GP ”copyright de l’oeuvre : © Florence Paradeis

Les années 1980, l’insoutenable légèreté Photography and Film at the Centre Pompidou in Paris Place Georges-Pompidou 75004 Paris fr

Heterogeneous, elusive, painful, fantastical, still too close, just as light-hearted as they were serious, the 80s were full of contrasts and paradoxes. With films and photographs from its collections, the Centre Pompidou sheds a new light on this decade in an exhibition featuring over 20 artists and around 60 works in a completely new layout.

The artists

From Florence Paradeis to Jean-Paul Goude, and from Karen Knorr to Présence Panchounette by way of Martin Parr and Pierre and Gilles, the works selected mostly express criticism of culture and society through various strategies, such as irony, realistic or imaginative staging, pastiche, subverted sets and odes to artifice. The history of 80s photography somewhat eludes comprehension even today.

The history of 80s photography

Beyond the sometimes too all-inclusive concept of post-modernism, the 80s saw the emergence of new issues that were both poetic and political. Hybridisation, humour, irony, eroticism and nostalgia are all possible keys to interpreting the art of this period, particularly its photography.

Mainly dedicated to the Western and American 80s scene, well-represented in the Centre Pompidou’s collection, this exhibition reflects the geopolitical and economic order of a time when the ideological divisions between North and South, East and West, capitalist democracies and centralised totalitarian regimes were being swept aside by the new global economy.

With a mix of famous works and others awaiting rediscovery, the exhibition draws us into the aesthetics and sometimes popular iconography typical of this period and geography.

This new photography, often highly “pictorialist” in Western countries, developed forms that were closely connected with technical advances in this area: the availability of good-quality colour photography, the possibilities provided by large formats and the instantaneousness of Polaroid.


Centre Pompidou
Place Georges-Pompidou
75004 Paris

Admission fees and rates

  • Ticket price: 14€
  • Concessions: 11€

Things to see

Point of interest