Black Block – Palais de Tokyo

Black Block – Palais de Tokyo

Hopelessly in thrall to anything and everything with a use-by date, Black Block—which is what graffiti artist André calls the boutique he conceived and “curates” for the contemporary art showcase in the Palais de Tokyo—is a one-stop arsenal for the urban hipster. The Art Deco building, opened in 1937 and originally intended as a French national museum of modern art, is now a divided enterprise—the east wing houses the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris, and the west wing, which belongs to the state, was turned into a “site for contemporary creation” in 2002.

The boutique, we are told, was modeled on a gas station in Stockholm (I scratched my head too); the display cases are the kind of refrigerators from which you’d pull a cold bottle of Pepsi at a highway gas station. The original merchandise, all by contemporary artists and designers, is as edgy and subversive as the museum’s exhibits—everything from ultra-hip tee shirts, jewelry, bags and watches to CDs, limited-edition artworks and exuberantly colored sex toys. Following the art center’s lead, Black Block also invites various personalities from the international art scene to create their own little happenings. The good news for insomniac shopaholics: it’s open till midnight.

13 ave Président Wilson, 16th, website

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Originally published in the February 2011 issue of France Today

For more of the best French boutiques and shopping, see here.

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