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Arts on the Côte d'Azur: unmissable summer exhibitions

This summer, culture is in the spotlight under the Côte d’Azur sun, with over fifteen must-see exhibitions. From Monaco to Hyères via Nice and Cannes, set off on an artistic tour celebrating the history and culture of the Côte d’Azur through artists whose history is sometimes deeply connected to the region.

1- Head to Monaco to discover a unique exhibition: Turner, the sublime legacy

From 6 July 2024, the iconic Monaco Rock will be the setting for a fabulous exhibition for lovers of pictorial art, with the exhibition “Turner, the sublime legacy”. Enthusiasts are invited to Grimaldi Forum for a breathtaking immersion in the world of Joseph Mallord William Turner. Over more than 2,000 m², navigate through a collection of major works evoking scenes of storms on the open sea, unique landscapes and the explorations of this undisputed master of light.

Turner’s genius, combined with his ability to grasp the elusive to depict the beauty and power of nature, have influenced a host of eminent artists such as Richard Long, Cornelia Parker, and Katie Paterson. Each of these artists, and many others, offer their interpretation of the concept of the Sublime, providing visitors with a unique opportunity to dive into Turner’s fascinating universe, and to appreciate the lasting impact of his work on modern and contemporary art.

2- Head to Nice for emblematic images

When following the seaside on the way to Nice, a stopover in Villefranche-sur-Mer is a must for the more nostalgic admirers of the 1950s to 1970s. Chapelle Saint Elme welcomes visitors for a captivating celebration of femininity at the heart of the exhibition “Brigitte Bardot, beyond the image”. Until May 26, discover rare photographs of “the most beautiful woman in the world”, captured through the delicate gaze of Swiss photographer Leonard de Raemy. From her brilliant cinema debut to her passionate commitment to animal protection, Brigitte Bardot remains the international muse of the Côte d’Azur, a symbol of both beauty and activism.

Proceed to Nice, where the Marc Chagall National Museum presents, from 1 June to 16 September, the “Political Chagall – Freedom’s Cry” exhibition. Through the torments of the twentieth century, Marc Chagall created artworks deeply rooted in history, carrying a message of equality, tolerance and universal peace. This exhibition, enriched by recent research and exceptional loans, offers an unprecedented reading of the artist’s work, highlighting his political and humanist commitment.

In the heart of Nice, the Matisse Museum unveils, from 28 June to 29 September, a fascinating exhibition entitled “MiróMatisse: beyond images”. This collaboration between Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona and Matisse Museum explores the deep, constructive ties between the works of Henri Matisse and Joan Miró, despite all their aesthetic and generational differences.

Until 30 June, comic book fans will be delighted with two exhibitions focusing on Hergé, the famous creator of Tintin. The first exhibition, at Espace Lympia, reveals the deep ties between “Hergé and Art”. This retrospective, covering his beginnings in comics creation, as well as his passion for art and collecting, offers a unique perspective on comics and the works of art that inspired the artist.

In parallel, the Museum of Asian Arts in Nice reveals the background to the story of “Tintin and Chiang”. This double exhibition, in collaboration with the Hergé Museum in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, celebrates the friendship between Hergé and Chiang Tchong-jen, the Chinese student who inspired the character of Chiang, notably through their postal correspondence, which shows the profound influence of this encounter on the evolution of Hergé’s work.

3- Beautiful works to discover between Nice and Cannes

The next step, an unmissable appointment, awaits in Saint-Paul-de-Vence. The Maeght Foundation welcomes visitors to an exhibition entitled “Friendships, Bonnard-Matisse for the 60th anniversary of the Maeght Foundation”. From 29 June to 6 October, explore the unique relationship between these two geniuses and their connection to the Maeght family, with a selection of rare works and exceptional documents.

For those in the Biot area, two exhibitions await visitors at Musée National Fernand Léger. From 24 February to 27 May, discover the “Léger Parade!”, a collection of original costumes inspired by the work of Fernand Léger, created by students attending Les Coteaux high school, Cannes, who are studying for an elective course as part of their National Diploma of Artistic Professions and Design curriculum.

From 15 June to 18 November, discover the “Léger and the new realisms – MAMAC collections in Biot” exhibition. This is a perfect opportunity to rediscover the artist’s joyful, colourful works, alongside paintings by major New Realist artists.

Lastly, from 6 July to 30 September, in Vallauris, Musée National Pablo Picasso presents the “Every day is eternal” exhibition. Sculptor and photographer Awena Cozannet has been invited to exhibit in the museum chapel, inviting visitors to a poignant reflection on migratory movements and the legacy that weighs on individuals.

4- Art in all its guises, in and around Cannes

Visiting Cannes will inevitably delight movie fans. The 9th Ephemeral cinema museum, dedicated to “The Kid”, Charlie Chaplin’s first masterpiece, invites visitors to scale the steps of the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, from 9 July to 25 August; travel back 19th century London, with exceptional behind-the-scenes filmset pictures.

In Le Cannet, a few kilometres away, the Bonnard Museum exhibition, “Toulouse-Lautrec Tête d’Affiche” traces the lithographic genius of Toulouse-Lautrec from 1891 to 1899, with around 80 prints as well as two iconic paintings on loan from the Musée d’Orsay. This exhibition invites visitors to rediscover Belle Époque Paris and its emblematic figures, as immortalised by the artist. From 29 June to 3 November, the exhibition “Bonnard and the poetry of an ordinary object” explores famous painter Pierre Bonnard’s obsession with a poorly-decorated vase, which inspired nearly thirty of his works.

We then suggest visiting the Centre d’Art de Mougins, which offers a unique visual exhibition from 25 March to 29 September: “Fractal Flowers – Imaginary Transparencies – Homage to Francis Picabia by Miguel Chevalier”. Famous digital artist Miguel Chevalier revisits Picabia’s exuberant relationship with nature, with digital flowers projected on a range of technological media.

Another event will take place in Mougins, when the Museum of Classical Art, renamed FAMM (which stands for “Women Artists of Mougins Museum”), will be inaugurated on 21 June, thus becoming the first major museum entirely dedicated to female artists in Europe. The exhibition presents a hundred major works by over 80 female artists, including Frida Kahlo, Berthe Morisot and Niki de Saint Phalle.

Also noteworthy is a poignant exhibition at Mougins Photography Centre: “Comrade Sisters: Women of the Black Panther Party”. From 28 June to 6 October, this exhibition will display previously unpublished photos of women in the Black Panther movement, highlighting their crucial role in this period of emancipation of the black American movement. A true immersion in history, as captured by Stephen Shames.

5- Honouring women in the islands of Hyères

On the island of Porquerolles, the Carmignac Foundation presents, from 27 April to 3 November“The Infinite Woman”, at Villa Carmignac. This is a bold, emancipatory exploration of women’s representation through the centuries, curated by Alona Pardo. The exhibition features a diverse artistic narrative, from Botticelli to Judy Chicago, that challenges social norms and traditional art categories It combines major works from the Carmignac collection with exceptional loans and works specially created for the event, offering a rich, nuanced vision of female representations in art.

Summer on the Côte d’Azur is thus dedicated to art, with numerous opportunities to discover or rediscover renowned artists, while exploring the cultural diversity of the French Riviera!