In 2017, Tania Mouraud was invited to create a site-specific work for the new lobby of the museum. She proposed a thirty-three meters long curved wallpainting dealing with the architecture and Nice context.
The wallpainting is a huge writing, reproducing a sentence from the famous opera Tosca by Giacomo Puccini created in 1900 in Rome.
Incarnated, in particular, by Pavarotti – Tosca is one of the best known operas. During the third act, the main character, Mario Cavaradossi, awaiting his imminent death, recalls the happy moments of his life and his beloved. A song of love and despair, plainly expressing the depths of the human soul, this aria celebrates the beauty and vulnerability of existence.
« (…) fled is that hour…
and desperately I die.
And never before have I loved life so much! »
The passionate character of the song is echoed by the power of the text, which spreads out almost secretly on the wall, masking for a time the drama of the words behind the gaze’s pleasure. The message gradually reveals itself to the patient reader, restoring intimacy and modesty to this flood of feelings.
The silent drama, both personal and universal, is offered as a memento to the terrible events that hit Nice in July 2016. The artist says of this piece: “I like the idea of the text which sinks into the architecture, the land, the sea to join the telluric forces. I chose it according to the place, I mean Nice, the events and the proximity of our emotions which are sometimes so desperate and which we dare not say, share. The despair of the individual is like the violence of society. Art becomes for me the place where one can reveal the interiority of the being, break the facade, expose oneself, cry out one’s desire to live, to be happy and the confrontation with the impossible dream”.
David Tremlett, a major figure in Land Art, was invited in 2005 to invest the museum’s emblematic places: the elliptical staircase designed by the architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, giving access to the museum’s terraces.
David Tremlett chose this location because he was well aware of the architectural complexity of the site due to the flatness of the model, which is incompatible with the optical effects of the spiral staircase and the triple viewpoint created by the staircase.
The underside of the staircase: a double circulation of green separated from brown but joined by the ellipse and the bandeau. Alternating circular and rectilinear shapes corresponding to the colourfields (black, white and grey). Binary rhythm of shapes and ternary of colours.
Apollinian chromatic harmony attested by the soft light emanating from the footbridges. The limes: dynamic form of the helicoidal shape accentuated by the orange patina and the rhythm of the brown bandeau. The wall returns: rectilinear grey and red lateral returns echoing the curvilinear wall offering the same retribution but in a stronger contrast: a barely “impressed” celestial blue cohabiting with an intense Indian red pigment with Genoese density.
Yves Klein made his first Peinture de feu (fire painting) in 1957 in the garden of the Galerie Colette Allendy in Paris, at the opening of the “Propositions monochromes” exhibition. The artist lit 16 Bengal lights, affixed to a blue monochrome. He pursued his exploration of fire as a plastic element a few years later, at a retrospective at the Haus Lange Museum in Krefeld, in 1961.
Here, Klein employed a structure of 50 slow-burning double Bunsen burners, together with a “fire fountain”. On the night of 26 February, the closing night of the exhibition, the artist recorded on paper the marks made by the burners and fountain flame. Two such “fire paintings” can be viewed in the room at MAMAC devoted to Klein.
Based on a project developed in collaboration with the Yves Klein estate, an edition of Mur de feu comprising two metal elements and ten rows of Bunsen burners connected to the city’s gas supply was installed on MAMAC’s southern terrace in 1990, then restored with the support of Primagaz in 2019. The flames are lit for evening events.
Between 2002 and 2005, a series of artists gestures by Sol LeWitt, Claude Viallat, Arman and Alain Jacquet were inaugurated on the interior facades (piazza side). In 2011 Eric Michel has designed a proposal-tribute to Yves Klein on one of the exterior façades (street side).
Claude Viallat, Répétition, 2002
Claude Viallat settled in Nice from 1964 to 1967 where he taught at the National School of Decorative Arts. In 1966, he gave up easel painting as well as brush painting and invented a form that inhabits all his paintings in a regular pattern. He applies his print to the stencil, in a repetitive way, using a plate of polyurethane foam dipped in paint and applied directly to the uncoated canvas.
In 1969, Claude Viallat joined the Supports/Surfaces group. The artists of this movement share a common questioning of the materials used in painting (canvas, stretcher, pigment) and propose analytical deconstructions leading to pictorial production systems by marking, imprinting, dipping, etc. The pictorial gesture goes far beyond the traditional context of the painting to also invest complex spatial situations and sometimes unusual materials.
At the beginning of the 1980s, the use of military tarpaulins enabled him to create monumental works and to take into account architecture and space (Capc Bordeaux, Centre Pompidou in Paris, Venice Biennial), Quick in Nîmes, Ceiling of the Annecy Music Conservatory, National Library of France in Paris, Abattoirs in Toulouse…).
Répétition consists of three painted tarpaulins corresponding to the three floors of the museum.
Sol LeWITT, Wall drawing#1004 Arcs, 2002
The American artist Sol LeWitt is one of the major figures of conceptual art.
In 1969, he stated what was to be one of the key notions of this movement: ” Ideas can be works of art; they are in a chain of development that may eventually find some form. All ideas need not be made physical”.
In 1968, he began designing wall drawings, which is probably his most emblematic practice. Until his death in 2007 he created 1,200 of them.
These wall drawings “thought” by the artist are in the vast majority of cases – true to his conceptual demands – executed by assistants in order to erase all forms of subjectivity. Elementary geometrical shapes: straight or non-straight lines, broken lines, squares, grids, arcs, circles, but also more complex forms such as closely intertwined loops, constitute his basic vocabulary
Arman, Camin dei Inglese, 2004
Camin dei Inglese is an installation composed of several hundred blue chairs from the Promenade des Anglais. Here Arman returns to something recurrent in his work: the accumulation of objects, the object of identity in a serial aspect, and the memory of an internationally renowned artist’s gesture, the 1960 exhibition “Plein” at the Galerie Iris Clert in Paris. The exhibition consisted in filling the gallery with rubbish, a subversive act of appropriation of the place and denunciation of the commercial art system. Two years earlier, Yves Klein had made an act of purification with the exhibition “Le Vide”.
Camin dei Inglese obeys the principle of “Accumulations” of objects of the same type initiated by the artist at the end of the 1950s as a reaction against mass consumption.
In this work, the objects chosen are not insignificant and are part of Nice’s identity. They are the blue chairs of the Promenade des Anglais, so often considered as emblematic of the Baie des Anges and the city’s way of life. The inauguration of the installation took place at the same time as the opening of the “Intra-muros” exhibition on 25 June 2004.
Alain Jacquet, Détail du déjeuner sur l’herbe (Façade du MAMAC), 2005
This mural is an enlargement of a detail of a work by the artist from MAMAC’s collection: Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe, 1964.
In this modern transposition of Manet’s painting, Alain Jacquet brings to the foreground: the gallery owner Janine de Goldschmidt, alongside the artist Mario Schifano and the art critic who federated the New Realists movement: Pierre Restany. Restany invites us to a picnic with a gesture of his right hand; the packet of industrial bread Jacquet reminds us of the artist’s name in a game of analogy, the whole thing is spread on a blue IKB napkin echoing Yves Klein.
A pivotal work: it is both the culmination of what has gone before and a major break in the artist’s career (through the technical mutations introduced, through the appearance of new effects that destabilize perception).
This is his first work Mec’Art (Mechanical Art), a word invented by Pierre Restany to refer to an artwork made mechanically, without manual intervention.
Alain Jacquet’s involvement in Mec’ Art and the technical means at his disposal offer him almost infinite possibilities.
The enlargement of frames in dots, stars, lines, structure or destructure the image.
We are then, in France, in 1964, only at the very beginning of the extension of screen printing techniques. This method used reminds us of a technique used in the United States by Pop Art artists such as Lichtenstein or Andy Warhol.
In this 14.40 metre high work, the blue, red and yellow frame expands and multiplies by fifteen the dot of the original painting, bringing the work to the limit of abstraction.
Eric Michel, Fluo Blue, 2011
Eric Michel’s work is apprehended by successive layers of sensations. Because, if conceptual art crosses his work, it remains intimately linked to the field of feeling. His quest for the intangible is not pure abstraction. Each installation is a way to experience it. The artist questions our relationships with reality, playing on the border between material and immaterial, like an intermediary, a “passeur” (relay passer), in his words. But Eric Michel is well aware of the inaccessibility of the goal he has set for himself. Only exploration matters to him. The path prevails over the purpose. Unlike the charismatic Yves Klein who offered us the “ashes of his art”, Eric Michel is determined to share with us his physical and spiritual experiences. With his Fluo Blue, invisible during the day, he imbues the MAMAC at night with an almost unreal blue halo, composing a vibrant tribute to Yves Klein.