Villa Datris, a fun summer destination in Provence

Pascal Bernier, Shooting accident, Fox 2018,  Fondation Villa Datris

Danièle Kapel Marcovici is a successful business woman who has turned her parents’ small wrapping company Raja into the largest group in Europe. She founded the Raja foundation for women’s rights and has recently developed an art space for sculpture in l’Isle sur la Sorgue, near Avignon, where she spends the summer. Villa Datris is open till November and shows an exhibition “Bêtes de Scène” devoted to animals of all kinds.

Johan Creten, Nur ein Fisch (a fish only) 1992, FRAC Auvergne

When you enter the garden of Villa Datris in the center of l’Isle sur la Sorgue, stuffed “Paresseux” (sloths) by Elodie Antoine, are seen hanging from the eucalyptus and fig trees, and a large horse by Robert Combas watches over the house. The garden has been tamed to uncover a “Hare” by Barry Flanagan, a “Bear” by Erik Dietman, a “Bird” by Xavier Veilhan and a yellow Hen by Richard di Rosa.

Mamady Seydi, La hyène ne puise pas pour rien l’eau d ela vieille vache, 2016, courtesy galerie Galea

The mistral blows violently and all the sculptures are moving. Curated by Danièle Kapel Marcovici and Stéphane Baumet, the exhibition shows a mix of International figures like Tinguely, César, Johan Creten, Ugo Rondinone, Claire Morgan or Prune Nourry, two South African artists, Wim Botha and Andries Botha, and very interesting young local artists from Marseille to Lacoste like Antonio Gagliardi or Ciris-Vell.


Kate MccGwire, Wrangle, 2018, pheasant feathers in a cabinet, private collection

This diversity in fame and topics is what characterizes the collection of Villa Dartis, a very subjective choice of contemporary sculptures made by its owner. Most works are picked at ArtBasel in June for the following season and while some pieces are lent by galleries, many are bought for the foundation’s collection. There is a common link to all works exhibited: they have a political or an environmental signification and the role of women in our society is always important. Thus Jan Fabre, who was excluded from the show because of alleged sexual harassment.

Bordalo II, Plastic elephant, Courtesy Galerie Mathgoth

The themes studied here are animal survival and animal wilderness, cabinets de curiosités and animal’s language. A sculpture by Jean Tinguely called le Coq was made to portray a particularly pretentious male.  A luminous frame of feathers made out of wax by Gabriel Sobin smelled wonderfully and was quite fascinating. He lives in Lacoste a few miles away and has switched from cutting stone to moulding heron feathers inspired by an Egyptian bird. Indian born American artists, Rina Banerjee uses dressed monkeys to stand as messengers of modernity. Jean- François Fourtou hangs his giant snails on the staircase.

Samuel Rousseau, Rupestre landscape , video projection, 2017, gallery RX

I loved Samuel Rousseau‘s video of Lascaux’s animals projected on a stone which is very whimsical and should be part of the Prehistory exhibition at Beaubourg,  and the arch of mythical animals by Ciris-Vell another local artist. Laurent Perbos has two pieces one on the river which glitters in the sun and a series of birdcages which shine in the dark. Two golf clubs were turned into snakes by Terrence Musekiwa from Zimbabwe, and Béatrice Arthus-Bertrand shows her I-dog made of multicolor pins. She spends the summers in Bonnieux nearby.

Harald Fernagu, Mes colonies en Brousse, 2018, and Alice looking through the looking mask, 2018, Galerie Polaris

The artists present at the opening were passionate about their art as is the owner of the Villa who spends 1 Million € a year running this art place which is open for free to all publics. The result is that 50 000 visitors visit it between May and November!

Calissons from Lilamand

L’Isle sur la Sorgue is famous for its antique markets which have become quite touristic over the years. But it also has a beautiful collegiale Notre Dame des Anges with a baroque decor, and the Campredon art center located in an old hôtel particulier. Starting on July 6, you can see there an exhibition of Guy Bourdin‘s photographs, the magician who worked for French Vogue in the 1980’s with great genius. And on your way back along the lovely canals of this Provençale Venice, do not miss Lilamand, the confiseur specialized in calissons and fruits confits, based in Saint Rémy, who has a lovely shop in town.

The collegiale Notre Dame in l’Isle sur la Sorgue has a beautiful baroque decor

Bêtes de Scène, until November 3, at Fondation Villa Datris in l’Isle sur la Sorgue. And bring your children, they’ll have plenty of stuff to play with.

And if you are looking for a beautiful house to spend the night, book at la Bastide Rose, in le Thor the next village, where Nicole (Poppy) Salinger has a guest house and a Foundation in the name of her late husband Pierre Salinger.

Share this Post

One Comment on ““Villa Datris, a fun summer destination in Provence”

  1. Susan J. Hewitt

    Your newsletters are always very soothing and pleasant to go through, thank you Laure. They complement my immersion in nature, making sure I get at least one generous helping of culture.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

4 × 4 =