Fondation Vasarely | Aix-en-Provence
Provence-Alpes-Cote Azur, France
The Fondation Vasarely in Aix-en-Provence, southern France, is an institution and a museum entitled to 20th century Hungarian-born French artist Victor Vasarely, devoted to the promotion of art and the collaboration between different forms of artistic expression.
Victor Vasarely (1906, Pécs, Hungary – 1997, Paris, France) is most renowned as a leading figure of the Optical Art (or Op Art) movement. After being involved in Cubism, Surrealism, Constructivism, Kinetic Art and other avant-garde movements of the 20th century art, in the 1950s, Vasarely was one of the founders of Op Art, a form of artistic expression deeply influenced by mathematics, euclidean and non-euclidean geometry, optical illusion, and psychology.
It’s in early Seventies that Vasarely took the decision to create an institution and a center in southern France committed to the promotion of the arts, eventually choosing Aix-en-Provence for the support by local authorities and because of “Aix-en-Provence’s rich history, its artistic and architectural programs, world-renowned festival, excellent network of highways and finally, for my own personal admiration for Cézanne”.
Since 1976, the Vasarely Foundation is seated in a quite peculiar building, designed by Victor Vasarely himself in collaboration with architects John Sonnier and Dominique Ronsseray, located on the outkisrts of Aix-en-Provence.
The architecture of the foundation’s building is clearly influenced by Vasarely’s artistic style. It consists of sixteen hexagonal prisms, 14 meters / 46 feet across, which, on two floors, accommodate various exhibition spaces, a 133-seat auditorium, a library, a cafe, offices, and storage areas, on a total floor area of about 5,000 square meters (53,800 square feet).
Those “cells” are clad with black and white anodized aluminum panels and 14 of them are topped by timber and glass pyramidal cupolas which provide natural illumination to the interior spaces. The entrance cell is completely glazed instead, while the upper floor of another one was partially removed and replaced with a small outdoor terrace. The building was fully restored and refurbished in 2018.
The Vasarely Foundation’s building in Aix-en-Provence, aerial view; photo © Fondation Vasarely
The foundation holds a permanent collection comprising 42 large scale artworks by Vasarely; up to 6 meters wide and 8 meters high (20 x 26 feet), these monumental abstract geometry pieces were made by the artist between the late 1960s and the early 1970s with the express aim of displaying them in the foundation and are currently installed in 11 rooms located on the ground floor of the foundation’s building. Either colored or monochrome, the art installations, Vasarely named Intégrations Architectoniques, were made with various techniques and materials – including aluminum, fabric, ceramics, enamel, silk-printed paper, glass, and plastics.
Together with the building, such monumental works create a sort of Gesamtkunstwerk, a “total artwork” into which architecture and visual arts merge.
Program of exhibitions and events
Along with its permanent exhibition, the Vasarely Foundation features a program of events consisting of temporary exhibitions, concerts, meetings, guided tours, conferences, art workshops, special events, and educational programs for children and families.
View from south-west; photo © Fondation Vasarely
Original site plan drawing; renovation project site plan and ground floor plan; images © Fondation Vasarely
View from north-west; photo: Elliott Brown
Fondation Vasarely, room 6, left:Vega Anneaux, 1969-1975; center: Tupa, 1972-1975; right: Ond, 1968-1975; photo © Anne Fourès, Agence Luce
Fondation Vasarely; left: intégration Zett, 1966-1975; center: Madjus, 1964-1975; right: Kezdi, 1966-1975; photo © Anne Fourès, Agence Luce
1st floor; rooms 4, 5, and 6; photo © Aldo Amoretti
Photo © Fondation Vasarely
Photo © Anne Fourès, Agence Luce
Cover image; Fondation Vasarely, Aix-en-Provence, view from west; photo: François Schwarz
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