In Porquerolles, a natural Foundation for art

Miquel Barceló, “Not yet titled”, 2018, collection Carmignac, in the chapel

The fifteen minute boat trip to Porquerolles reminded me of taking the short ferry ride to Naoshima island in Japan. I had a few hours to wait at Toulon airport and when I realized that Fondation Carmignac was just a few miles away, I jumped in a taxi and boarded the crowded Sunday morning ferry to the beaches of this  small island in the Mediterranean. This is where Charles Carmignac, the son of the successful businessman Edouard Carmignac, is running the Villa built in 1985 by architect Henri Vidal for his family, art dealer Aline Vidal and her sisters. 

The former pool was converted into a translucid roof covered with water, for the exhibition galleries  underground, designed by architect Marc Barani

It used to be a farm where Jean Luc Godard shot “Pierrot le Fou” in 1965.  It now is an art foundation with a sculpture park, olive trees and vineyards planted as a protection against fire and a model of environmental correctness, with a garden developed by Louis Benech.

You better book your ticket if you don’t want to be like me, having to negotiate a quick entry to the paradise. The foundation with its short exhibition in the airy building adapted by architect Marc Barani, (responsible for the Liliane and André Bettencourt auditorium at the Institut and the School for photography in Arles), can only be visited barefoot and takes fifty people every thirty minutes. It’s quite a wonderful experience to walk on the cool stone ground in the September heat.

Roy Liechtenstein, “Nude with Blue Hair”, 1994, Collection Carmignac

“La Source” is this year’s theme with Fabrice Hyber‘s murals which are reminiscent of those he shows right now at Fondation Cartier. Bruce Naumann‘s “One hundred fish fountain, 2005, is a wonderful installation conceived with bronze fishes made after those from the American grand lakes where he used to fish with his father. The water falls in the tank for fifteen minutes and makes the sculptures fly around.

Bruce Naumann, One hundred fish fountain, 2005, Collection Carmignac

Once you have passed Bertrand Lavier‘s “Cocacollage” seen through the window, you arrive downstairs in the galleries. Two large Gerhard Richter, a Sigmar Polke, three Roy Liechstenstein, a splendid aluminum curtain by El Anatsui,  “Lady Stroke” by Valérie Belin, Martial Raysse, Rebecca Horn and even a drawing by Egon Schiele, form a fairly disparate collection. But the space and the light are so sublime that one is happy to wander around barefoot and just feel the atmosphere of this very special place.

Gerhard Richter, Grüner Strich, 1982, Collection Carmignac

I chose to visit the galleries first and went for a long stroll in the garden of natural Mediterranean plants with Mexican yuccas and Chilean coconut trees added by magician gardener Louis Benech. In the park, there are various sculptures which are all part of the collection, “The three Alchemists” by Jaume Plensa, “The Path of emotions” a labyrinth in mirror hidden in the sugar canes, by Danish artist Jeppe Hein, and a talc installation by Brazilian artist Cildo Meireles called “Volatil”, in a little house. All are intriguing and well adapted to the vegetation.

Jaume Pensa, one of “The three Alchemists”, surrounded by the wild vegetation

It is a pure delight to wander around this space in a natural environment. There is nothing commercial about the art and everyone is clever and friendly. You are welcomed by a cup of cold tea at the entrance and gently asked to take your shoes off when you enter the house.

Jeppe Hein, “Path of Emotions”, 2018, collection Carmignac

I especially loved the experience of gently climbing there from the ferry (ten minutes) on a dirt road. The pilgrimage and the anticipation are an important part of the pleasure. There are some bicycles and very few cars on the island. And most visitors, who are only interested in the beaches, are oblivious to this Foundation opened in June 2018.

The view from the Porquerolles harbor goes all the way to Fort de Brégançon and Cap Bénat

The Carmignac Foundation is open until November 3, from 10 am to 6 pm. You have to plan your visit according to the ferries from La Tour Fondue (10 mins from Toulon airport). Unless you book a water taxi.

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One Comment on ““In Porquerolles, a natural Foundation for art”

  1. Eleini

    La fondation Carmignac me rappelle mes vacances dans le sud ( j’etais basée à Saint Jean Cap Ferrat) qui ont été magiques.
    J’ai pu visiter en privé la fondation Venet au Muy, une merveille.
    Et aussi la fondation Hartung à Antibes.
    Et plein d’autres choses encore. Mais quand je vois le paysage de Porquerolles, je me sens un peu nostalgique des beaux jours ensoleillés.
    J’ai retrouvé Paris, avec la philharmonie dimanche (Parsifal) et hier la fondation Vuitton avec Alexandre Kantorov. Grandiose.
    Bonne rentrée chère Laure.
    Et merci pour ces précieuses informations.
    Claudette Eleini

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