The Imaginary Sea

Starting May 20, 2021*

*Conditional on health requirements

For its fourth season, the Villa Carmignac presents The Imaginary Sea (La Mer imaginaire), which transforms the exhibition spaces into an underwater natural history museum that questions the interactions between our civilisation and the subaquatic world.

Conceived by American curator Chris Sharp, this exhibition was inspired as much by the architecture of the place – the spaces immersed under the villa’s ceiling filled with water – as iconic works from its collection: Bruce Nauman’s fountain with a hundred bronze fish, Miquel Barceló’s subaqueous fresco and Jeff Koons’s sculpture of a lobster perched on a chair, among others.

With its ensemble of modern and contemporary works, The Imaginary Sea intends to celebrate the sea as a precious and evocative resource, swarming with known and unknown lives, opened to wondrous, strange and unexpected things, and whose immensity has always fed our imagination.

In dialogue with The Imaginary Sea, Miquel Barceló was given carte blanche to entirely transform the Villa’s vaulted gallery. Ressac is a painting that one enters, made up of successive layers of plaster and clay that embrace every volume and surface of the space: walls, floors and glass partitions. Like painting projected onto architecture, it evokes the movement of an intense wave doubling backing on itself.

Thanks to a partnership with the Port-Cros National Park, the exhibition continues this year in the Fort Saint-Agathe and Villa Noailles with a series of photographs commissioned to Nicolas Floc’h. It explores the seabed between Porquerolles and its neighbouring islands.


  • Yuji Agematsu
  • Gilles Aillaud
  • Jean-Marie Appriou
  • Miquel Barceló
  • Bianca Bondi
  • Cosima von Bonin
  • Leidy Churchman
  • Julien Discrit
  • Hubert Duprat
  • Nicolas Floc’h
  • Camille Henrot
  • Adam Higgins
  • David Horvitz
  • Allison Katz
  • Paul Klee
  • Yves Klein
  • Jeff Koons
  • Jeff Koons
  • Jennifer J. Lee
  • Jochen Lempert
  • Micha Laury
  • Dora Maar
  • Henri Matisse
  • Mathieu Mercier
  • Bruce Nauman
  • Kate Newby
  • Melik Ohanian
  • Alex Olson
  • Gabriel Orozco
  • Jean Painlevé
  • Bruno Pelassy
  • Lin May Saeed
  • Martin Soto Climent
  • Shimabuku
The Imaginary Sea