This collection focuses on artists who were active from the 1950s. It illustrates a number of artistic trends and movements in post-war modernist painting such as CoBrA, Art Brut, Arte Povera, Trans-Avant-Garde, lyrical abstraction, action painting and other examples of Art Informel.
The Anthony Denney gift immeasurably enriched and expanded the museum’s modern collection, as did The Centre Pompidou, who gave les Abattoirs a portion of their Daniel Cordier donations.
The holdings from the photographer and designer Anthony Denney (1913-1990) are essentially comprised of paintings from the 1950s and 1960s by artists such as Karel Appel, Alberto Burri, Jean Dubuffet, Lucio Fontana, Sam Francis, Georges Mathieu, Riopelle, Antonio Saura, Antoni Tàpies, Vasarely and Japanese artists from the Gutai collective.
The Daniel Cordier collection is a testament to the art dealer, writer and critic. There are works by Arman, Hans Bellmer, Brassaï, César, Chaissac, Robert Combas, Dado, Jean Dubuffet, Marcel Duchamp, Hans Hartung, Robert Mapplethorpe, Henri Michaux, Robert Rauschenberg, Bernard Réquichot and Claude Viallat. Since 2005, Daniel Cordier has added to this exceptional collection with new donations. These more recent gifts are ethnographic artefacts, primitive art works and curios; brought together to illustrate what Cordier calls "les désordres du plaisir".
One of the most emblematic works of the collection is the stage backdrop “The Remains of Minotaur in a harlequin costume”. Spectacular and unique, measuring 13.25m by 8.30m, it was created by Pablo Picasso with Luis Fernandez in 1936 for the play “le 14 Juillet” by Romain Rolland. This work can only be presented for more than six months a year because of its fragility [currently not visible].