Affichage La mer Imaginaire

The Imaginary Sea

Villa Carmignac, Porquerolles

May 20, 2021 - October 17, 2021

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 SeaMiquel 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
Michael E. Smith

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

Exhibition views

Bianca Bondi - The Fall and Rise, 2021
Co-production Fondation Carmignac, Bianca Bondi et Mor Charpentier, Paris © ADAGP, Paris, 2021 - Photo Marc Domage
Micha Laury - Sans titre (Les Méduses), 2006
© ADAGP, Paris, 2021 - Photo : Camille Moirenc
Jeff Koons - Acrobat, 2003-2009 / SHIMABUKU - Leaves swim, 2011
Aluminium, poubelle, chaise - Collection Carmignac © Jeff Koons – Fondation Carmignac / Film - Courtesy l’artiste et Air de Paris - Photo : Marc Domage
Gabriel Orozco - Spume 5, 6, Splash, 2003 / Henri Matisse - Polynésie, le ciel, 1964
Mousse expansive et aluminium - Courtesy l’artiste et Marian Goodman Gallery New York/London/Paris / Tapisserie © Succession H. Matisse - Ville de Beauvais - Photo : Marc Domage