What can artists and their work tell about the time and place they lived in? How does a country collect art? Is it possible to distil a French identity from a contemporary art collection consisting of art from all over the world? The exhibition A Republic of Art, which is being held in the Van Abbemuseum from 27 June to 4 October, raises some interesting questions. A Republic of Art tells the story of contemporary art since the 1980s from a French perspective. The ten galleries in the old building of the museum are filled with more than a hundred much discussed works from the collections of the FRACs (Fonds Régionaux d’Art Contemporain), many of which are being shown outside France for the first time. Three decades of contemporary art The exhibition starts in the early 1980s with works by celebrated artists such as Daniel Buren, Gerhard Richter, Cindy Sherman and

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