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 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.
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.