Château de Montsoreau Contemporary Art Museum, Montsoreau, Loire Valley

Passage du marquis de Geoffre, Montsoreau
Pays de la Loire, France
closed on: open daily
Museum Type: Art
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Located in the Loire Valley, about two hours from Paris by car, the Château de Montsoreau is a museum of contemporary art housed in a Renaissance-style castle built in 1450 by John II of Chambes, counselor and chamberlain of French kings Charles VII and Louis XI.

A national monument since 1862, the castle is a Unesco World Heritage site since November 2000. The Château de Montsoreau – Museum of Contemporary Art was founded in April 2016 by French art collector Philippe Méaille, who provided the museum of over 1000 works by the Art & Language artists’ collaboration, thus creating the world’s largest collection exclusively focused on that movement.

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The Château de Montsoreau – Museum of Contemporary Art in Montsoreau; exterior view from the Loire river. Photo Léonard de Serres, courtesy of Philippe Méaille.

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Interior and exterior views of the museum. Images courtesy of Chateau de Montsoreau-Museum of Contemporary Art.

Art & Language – The permanent collection
As mentioned above, the Château de Montsoreau permanent collection – which had been on loan at the MACBA in Barcelona from 2010 to 2017 – exclusively comprises works by the Art & Language collective.

The movement was established in 1967/68 by British artists Terry Atkinson (1939), David Bainbridge (1941), Michael Baldwin (1945), and Harold Hurrell (1940) who began collaborating when they were all teaching at Coventry University; in 1970 they were joined by Charles Harrison and Mel Ramsden. In 1969, the artists’ collaboration published the first issue of the magazine Art-Language, which would have an enduring influence on Conceptual Art internationally.
The over fifty artists who participated in the group’s activity from the 1970s to 1982 included Ian Burn, Michael Corris, Preston Heller, Graham Howard, Joseph Kosuth, Andrew Menard, Terry Smith, Philip Pilkington, and David Rushton, among others.

Chateau-de-Montsoreau-Art & Language and the Red Crayola Kangaroo

Art & Language and the Red Crayola Kangaroo, 1981-2017. Collection Philippe Méaille.

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Art & Language, Mirror Piece, 1965. Collection Philippe Méaille.

The Art & Language artists have been very critical of the traditional approach to art; their work questions the intrinsic nature of the work of art and its possible independence from the object of art.
During the 1970s, Art & Language explored many aspects of artistic production and tried to move from conventional forms of “non-linguistic” art, such as painting and sculpture, to more theoretical works of art. The artistic production of Art & Language adopted a diverse set of languages and means of expression, including manuscript, typescript, video, photography, printing, and live performance, but also drawing, painting and sculpture.

In the history of the Art & Language collective, it is possible to identify three main periods.
1965-1968. In its early years, the group develops a critical approach to modernism and focuses on making the public participates in the debate about the nature of art.
1969-1977. In this period, the group produced a large number of written works and started collaborating with the rock band The Red Crayola for the album Music-Language: Corrected Slogans.
1977-present. Art & Language has been engaging with more traditional forms of art and produces objects of art such as paintings, drawings, and sculptures. Furthermore, the collective keeps on collaborating with The Red Crayola and publishing texts. In 1998, it began collaborating with the Jackson Pollock Bar performance group.

Program of events
The innovative and experimental program of the Château de Montsoreau-Museum of Contemporary Art features special exhibitions, meetings, concerts, and performances.
The museum widely collaborates with other institutions, especially through art loans.

Chateau-de-Montsoreau-Art & Language-Incident Now they are Elegant-1993

Art & Language, Incident, Now They Are, Elegant, 1993. Collection Philippe Méaille.

All images courtesy of Chateau de Montsoreau-Museum of Contemporary Art.

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