For nearly 30 years, Jean-Gabriel Mitterrand has given pride of place to sculpture in his gallery in the Marais in Paris, just as he has in numerous exhibitions of monumental works of art in public and private spaces throughout the world.
In 2014, Mitterrand and his son Edward dreamed of creating an outdoor private venue dedicated to showcasing monumental sculpture in the South of France.
Following this intention, one year later, the Domaine du Muy opened. The park lives and evolves through the regular renewal or continuity of the works and projects. Today, it comprises some forty artworks by contemporary artists from a host of different generations, movements, and schools of practice.
The Domaine du Muy is nestled between the Maures and Esterel Massifs. The Esterel’s Mediterranean forest of cork oaks and pines stretches out over several hundred hectares. With its secluded valley, pools, and wild spaces, the Domaine du Muy sets the artworks in a space of exceptional natural beauty.
Louis Benech, (whose projects include the Water Theatre grove at Versailles with Jean-Michel Othoniel, and the Tuileries Garden) is known for his love of plants, art, and the interaction of the two. He has set about a new challenge at the Domaine du Muy: entirely restructuring the sparsely planted surroundings of the Domaine's house.
The landscape gardener has structurally remodelled the nearby land to better integrate the building with its environment. In order to work toward the shared desire to "seat" the house in its surroundings, he recommended the lengthening of the two terraces while allowing the very same wildlife which can be found in a wild state in the surrounding forest – including lavender, lupins, heather bushes, strawberry trees, cork oaks and white oaks – to come all the way up to the house, rather than trying to domesticate this natural setting.
Tomás Saraceno, Air-Port-City / Cloud Cities 4 Modules Metal, 2010. © Tomás Saraceno, Courtesy Domaine du Muy. Photo : J.C. Lett
Jean-Gabriel and Edward Mitterand have invited Simon Lamunière to be the Domaine du Muy's first curator. With approximately ten years' experience gleaned at Art/Unlimited, the section of Art Basel devoted to atypical and monumental projects, he has developed a wealth of expertise when it comes to creating sculpture trails and structuring spaces. Moreover, his work on the architecture and public spaces at the heart of the Neon Parallax project in Geneva make him a doubly suitable candidate.
A lover of nature, Simon Lamunière's objective at the Domaine du Muy was to choose works which radically interact with the Park's raw natural surroundings and jaggedly undulating reliefs.
Wang Du, China Daily - Top 10 Profiles of the Urban Male, 2007. © Wang Du, Courtesy Domaine du Muy. Photo : J.C. Lett
French architect and designer India Mahdavi has entirely restructured a faux Provençal-style house; the choice to conserve it was guided by the intention to keep the focus as much as possible on the sculpture park.
For this first phase of renovation, India Mahdavi adapted the villa with one initial, simple and bold aesthetic gesture: that of painting the façade in a silver that, like the leaves of an olive tree, glistens in the midday sun and reflects the colours of the building's environment. The second move was to remove the artificial hill on which the house had been built and to create a "seat" which allowed the space of the house to roll out from west to east with the addition of two terraces connected by a moucharaby. The house now sits on top of an exhibition space that is completely opened up to the Park.