At first, there was a farm, seen in “Pierrot le fou”, the Jean-Luc Godard movie. In the 1980s, Henri Vidal, an architect and inventor of reinforced earth, transformed the farm into a villa. Invited to the wedding of one of his daughters, Édouard Carmignac fell in love with the estate. He subsequently imagined turning it into a place dedicated to the arts. This project has unfolded over the last few years, thanks to the involvement of Atelier Barani for the design, and the GMAA agency for the project’s adaptation and extension..
The Villa Carmignac is set at the heart of a National Park and on a listed site. Additional construction is not authorized on the land. The entire project has thus consisted of clearing
2,000 square meters of space beneath the surface, without modifying the house’s contours or the existing landscape.
Inside the villa, the spaces expand and extend in the shape of a cross. In the center, an aquatic ceiling lets in natural light and illuminates these underwater spaces. The visitor walks freely around voluminous spaces marked by visual openings onto the vineyards.
In technical terms, the building meets all of the museum standards, in a sober design that
fits into the landscape, enabling the Villa Carmignac to welcome the best works under optimal conditions.
“This place was created for the pleasure of sharing what I love with as many people as possible. I prefer the word “share” to word “transmit”. That is why I like accessible works. Art needs to speak.” Edouard Carmignac
The Fondation, created in 2000 on the initiative of Edouard Carmignac, will open to the public in Porquerolles, a Mediterranean island like a floating forest on the sea, from June 2, 2018. Visitors will discover contemporary artworks of the Carmignac Collection in the beautiful surroundings of a national park, along with temporary exhibitions, a sculpture garden, and a rich programme of cultural events.
The island is not a random choice: “As in all legends or initiatory journeys, the voyage to the island is always a dual crossing: one physical and the other mental. It is about crossing over to the other side,” said the Director of the foundation, Charles Carmignac.
Once on the island, the visitor will discover a Provençal farmhouse blended into the landscape. Inside, the spaces expand to reveal 2,000 square meters of exhibition space. Natural light, filtered by a ceiling filled with water, illuminates the spaces hidden beneath the surface. Outside, a 15-hectare garden, conceived by landscape designer Louis Benech, is inhabited by a series of works inspired by the surroundings.
The garden was designed as a “non-garden”, a natural place in which we committed to create an equilibrium by subtraction and protection more than by addition.
In this way, pioneer and endemic plants were preserved; from the plentiful Cistuses, to the Hyères’ lavender trees, through more rare and protected species such as the Needle-leaved Broom and the Serapias, one of the most beautiful orchids.
The site has been replanted with numerous olive trees to preserve its agricultural nature, and a small orchard has been added in the northern plain. Near the house built in the 1980s, exotic trees like jacarandas have been added to the exotic vegetation that has been present on the site for decades: Eucalyptus, Mimosa and varied Citrus (tangerines, oranges, lemons…).
The trees and shrubs in the South have been landscaped so the works appear and disappear depending on the vantage point. In the North park, the works are framed by giant cane folding screens.
The Eastern terrace is the only tranquil and flat space offering a view from the villa towards the vineyards through the green oak trees. The grass walkways are mowed or in compacted soil and will change appearance with the seasons.
Louis Benech – Extract from the intent letter
Artists from all over the world had been selected to create artworks especially inspired by the place. They spent some time on the Porquerolles’s island in order to be soaked and to imagine sculptures in resonance. They have to be discovered in the garden because they play with nature and our senses. The surrounding sculptures each question our presence in the world in their own way.
Works by :
Jean Denant, Alexandre Farto AKA Vhils, Jeppe Hein, Gonzalo Lebrija, Wang Keping, Olaf Breuning, Tom Friedman, NILS-UDO, Jaume Plensa, Ugo Rondinone, Ed Ruscha
Citation : “The philosophy behind this project is to respect and make known the singular local bio-diversity, thus present and preserved thanks to the work of the Port-Cros National Park…”Louis Benech, landscaper designer