Protesters Greet French President at Musée Soulages Opening

Protests in Rodez during the inauguration of the Musée Soulages Via: Midi Libre

Two hundred protesters, including farmers, cultural workers (intermittents du spectacle), and steelworkers, tried to enter the Musée Soulages in Rodez, France on Friday. The protests occurred during a visit by French President François Hollande, marking the inauguration of the first museum dedicated to the abstract painter Pierre Soulages. According to Le Monde, they were dispersed by police using tear gas.

The President didn’t let the incident spoil the mood: during his tour, he repeatedly described Soulages as “the greatest living artist in the world” and a living proof that “French excellence exists.”

Located in Soulages’ birthplace, the museum holds over 500 works donated by the artist who has dominated the French art scene with his black abstractions for half a century. While significant, the ensemble is said to be lacking recent works—a gap, the curator hopes to fill with loans from private collections and new acquisitions.

The incident comes after a particularly difficult week for Hollande who had to face the victory of the far-right party Front National at the European elections and new, worryingly high unemployment figures. He is currently conssidered the least popular president in the history of the Fifth Republic.

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