Contemporary Art

A New Contemporary Art Museum Is Hidden on a Mediterranean Island

By Anna Sansom

T he island of Porquerolles, off the south coast of France, is renowned for its magnificent vineyards and unspoiled beaches. Now it is becoming home to the Carmignac Foundation. “I fell in love with this island in the 1980s. The journey to reach it enables you to empty your mind for an encounter with art,” says founder Édouard Carmignac, head of the investment fund Carmignac Gestion, who began collecting in the 1990s.

The Fondation Carmignac on the Island of Porquerolles. Photograph by Lionel Barbe.
The foundation is housed in a converted Provençal farmhouse. Photograph by Marc Domage.
Sweeping views inside the Fondation Carmignac. © Marc Domage.
The "aquatic ceiling" casts reflections onto the space below. © Fondation Carmignac. Photograph by Marc Domage.

The foundation is housed in a Provençal farmhouse, seen in Jean-Luc Godard's Pierrot le Fou (1965), which has been converted into more than 1,500 square metres of exhibition space. As might be suspected on an island classified as a national park, the ambitious project navigated tight environmental restrictions, expanding into an underground space rather than modifying its existing landscape. Central to the building is the "aquatic ceiling", a water feature that casts flowing reflections and shadows onto the space below.

On display are works from the Carmignac corporate collection by artists such as Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Roy Lichtenstein, including some specially commissioned artworks, noted among them Bruce Nauman's One Hundred Fish Fountain, 2005. “I need to feel a strong emotion,” Carmignac says about his purchasing criteria. The inaugural exhibition, Sea of Desire, which features Ed Ruscha's work of the same name, will juxtapose the collection with international loans. Organised by Vienna-based curator and scholar Dieter Buchhart, the presentation confronts various themes such as cinematic suspense, fallen angels and disaster.

Ed Ruscha, Sea of desire. Courtesy Fondation Carmignac, 2018. © Marc Domage.
Joe Goode, Shark Bite, 2014. © Joe Goode and Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles.
Bruce Nauman, One Hundred Fish Fountain, 2005. © Fondation Carmignac. Photograph by Marc Domage.
Gerhard Richter, Grüner Strich (Green Stroke), 1982. © Collection Carmignac / Gerhard Richter 2017.

The 15-hectare sculpture park, designed by landscape architect Louis Benech, features work by fifteen artists such as Jaume Plensa, Alexandre Farto and Nils-Udo, who, according to Carmignac, “all presented proposals questioning man and his presence in the world.”

The Carmignac Foundation, Porquerolles, opened on 2 June.

Jaume Plensa, Les trois Alchimistes, 2018. © Fondation Carmignac. Photograph by Marc Domage.
Alexandre VHILS, 2018. Courtesy Fondation Carmignac, © Marc Domage.
Ugo Rondinone, Four seasons, 2018. Photograph by Marc Domage.
Ugo Rondinone, Four seasons, 2018. Photograph by Marc Domage.
Nils-Udo, La couvée, 2018. © Fondation Carmignac. Photograph by Nils-Udo.

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