The south of France is clearly the land of movie stars and fast cars—and Cezanne and Van Gogh, but don’t let the Impressionist canon color your rosé lenses. In fact, contemporary art has found a home in the provencal paradise of France’s Mediterranean provinces. And with the “c’est la belle vie” attitude, and incredibly close to Basel, for our Post-Basel Trips Guides, we focused on the perhaps most mythic locale in all of France.
Off the coast of Hyères, the lush, 4-mile-long island of Porquerolles is home to la Fondation Carmignac. The villa and gardens host rotating exhibitions and a collection of 300 contemporary artworks, including Sea of Desire, a recent billboard-style commission by Ed Ruscha. For the current exhibition, Ulysses’s Song, the villa has been transformed into a labyrinth of mirrors and tromp l’oeil dead-ends to loosely recreate Odysseus’ long journey home, including his fabled stop on this very island. Fortunately, unlike Homer’s wandering hero, you can book a spot on one of four daily ferries from Hyères’ La Tour Fondue here or find additional ferry info (including how to charter your own) here. Added bonus: you may even spot Mr. Baer there this summer too.
Fondation Carmignac ariel view
La Fondation Carmignac's Bassin d'Eau
For fans of modernist architecture and design, head into the hills above Hyères to tour Robert Mallet-Stevens’ Villa Noailles. A cubist garden with stunning views of the coastline below compliments objects made specifically for the house by some of the top-selling names in recent design auctions (peep our Reel). The villa’s annual summer Design Parade opens June 23rd, featuring works submitted for a juried competition by 10 young up-and-coming designers, part of a festival including an Interior Design Parade in neighboring Toulon and 8 other local exhibitions.
Villa Noailles façade
Villa Noailles view
The stated goal of the Venet Foundation in Le Muy is to “ensure that Bernar Venet’s work is presented in an ideal setting,” and it delivers—Venet’s steel curves inhabit verdant grounds dotted with palm trees and other great examples of large-scale minimalist sculpture. This year’s indoor exhibition features a collaboration between composer David Tudor, artist Jackie Matisse, and filmmaker Molly Davies originally presented at le Centre Pompidou in 1983. It’s open exclusively for guided tours Thursdays and Fridays in the summer, so make a reservation at the link above.
David Tudor, Jackie Matisse, and Molly Davies, Sea Tails, 1983, at the Venet Foundation
20 minutes from Aix-en-Provence, The Baer Faxt-beloved the Château Lacoste combines a top-notch vineyard with dozens of permanent site-specific outdoor installations ranging from land art by the likes of Ai Weiwei and Andy Goldsworthy to architectural curiosities by Oscar Neimeyer, Frank Gehry, and especially Tadao Ando. Every piece in the collection was designed for a specific location chosen by the artist. After visiting Sean Sculley’s Boxes Full of Air and Richard Serra’s Aix, drop by temporary indoor exhibitions by Zhou Li and Mary McCartney.
Luma Arles’ Gehry-designed tower looms over the contemporary art center’s surrounding Parc des Ateliers like a chrome-plated M.C. Esher castle. Opened as part of a major expansion last June, Founder Maja Hoffman programs all projects in consultation with a “Core Group” of artistic directors led by Hans Ulrich Olbrist and Tom Eccles. Now on view: several new video works, including a full exhibition by Native American filmmaker Sky Hopinka; a VR-based piece by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster; and Live Evil, the largest-ever retrospective of Arthur Jaffa’s meditations on the Black American experience.