Art in Provence, where to go?
Journalist and writer Pierre Darge takes us to the most beautiful art spots in Provence.
From a large art collection in a wine domain, to an intimate garden, the art offerings in the Luberon will not disappoint.
In Le Puy Saint Réparade
Château La Coste
Art lover Paddy McKillen bought fifteen years ago the wine estate of Château La Coste in Le Puy Saint Réparade. He had started as a welder, ran an art gallery in Dublin at 29 and asked Jean Nouvel to give the wine estate an original touch. Later, Tadao Ando built the arts centre and Frank Gehry put the music chapel there. After which, two dozen artists found their spot to put their own creations down in a unique setting.
Jardin de la Louve
Jardin de la Louve is a must for anyone who loves exceptional gardens. A garden without flowers, with only boxwood and soft rockeries. It was created by Nicole de Vésian, the artistic director of Hermès at the time. She was assisted in the design by Issey Miakey - giving the whole a distinctly Japanese touch. In short, a place to take a breather amidst shades of green.
You don't have to be a church-goer to visit the Chapelle d’Ô, located in a backstreet of the village. In the godless years that followed the French Revolution, the chapel was relegated to a barn. More than two centuries later, it was restored by a French family. Louise Bourgeois had the honour of putting up some of her quirky works of art: a cross, a confessional, a baptismal font, a spider. Enough to make the place a quiet high flyer again.
Hôtel de Caumont
The foundation stone of the Hôtel de Caumont was laid in 1715, to a design by Robert de Cotte, the king's first architect, but it was only completed thirty years later. Several noble families lived there but during the Second World War it was reduced to an apartment building. Since 1990, it has been a historical monument, the restoration of which was only completed in 2015 - and it is ready to host exceptional exhibitions.
Victor Vasarely's art belongs in a completely different world. The Fondation Vasarely is located in a magical, green spot, to the west of the city. The geometric subjects may not fascinate everyone, but the optical trickery of many of them is remarkable, to say the least.
Atelier van Cézanne
Cézanne's studio is located on the edge of the city and actually consists of only one room. Yet no visitor should miss this gem, even if only to immerse themselves for a moment in the artist's world.
In Saint Rémy de Provence
Saint Paul de Mausole
Vincent van Gogh spent some time in 1890-91 in the psychiatric ward of the monastery of Saint Paul de Mausole, where doctors examined his unstable mental health. During his best moments, he painted over 100 works in a separate room, or in the garden. The small room where he stayed later became famous. Even though there is almost nothing there, it remains an impressive testimony.
Fondation Villa Datris
The Fondation Villa Datris is one of the few places where only contemporary sculpture is shown. Ten years ago, Danièle Kapel-Marcovici and Tristan Fourtine discovered a 19th century maison particulier with a garden opposite the banks of the Sorgue. Every year, they put on a thematic exhibition there, spread over 500 m2 and in the garden.
The Hôtel d’Agar has a remarkable history. The first traces go back to the 12th century, there is a 15th century Gothic tower and the ceiling of one of the rooms was decorated with a painting on the occasion of the arrival of the French king François Premier. Today, it is a unique cabinet of curiosities with a wonderful story to tell: two paintings from the owners' collection turned out to be authentic Caravaggios …
Yvon Lambert is a passionate collector of contemporary art who in 2000 founded his own museum in Avignon, the Collection Lambert. In it, he displays both art from his own collection (Cy Twombly, Basquiat, Anselm Kiefer) as temporary exhibitions. For the city with its rich history, this is a refreshingly contemporary touch.