Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Chagall Show Opens in Les Baux March 4

The Carrières de Lumières (Quarries of Light) is a magical space in a vast cave-like quarry at the base of the village of Les Baux. There in the cool darkness, close to 100 video projectors and 27 speakers generate the choreographed movement of 3,000 images over an area of more than 75,000 square feet, onto walls as high as 45 feet, onto the ceilings and even the floor. The sound-and-light show changes roughly once a year and has become one of the most-popular sites in Provence. Since its opening in 2012, Les Carrières de Lumières has attracted more than 1.6 million visitors

The 2015 show, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael: Giants of the Renaissance, was unveiled on March 6, 2015, closed last month and drew 513,000 visitors.

The new show, called Chagall: Midsummer Night's Dreams, will be unveiled on March 4 and will run through January 8, 2017. 

The Chagall show represents the first time that the folks at the Carrières de Lumières  have assembled an exhibit focusing on a single artist...and most of his best-known masterpieces have been digitized for projection here.

Marc Chagall (1887 - 1985) was born Moishe Shagal, the eldest of nine children in a Lithuanian Jewish family in Liozna, near Vitebsk in Belarus (then part of the Russian Empire) . He moved to Paris in 1910 and earned his French nationality in 1937. Chagall worked  in virtually every artistic medium, including painting, book illustration, stained glass, stage sets, ceramic, tapestries and fine art prints. Art critic Robert Hughes called him "the quintessential Jewish artist of the 20th century" although Chagall saw his work as "not the dream of one people but of all humanity." The artist is buried in the town cemetery in St. Paul de Vence, on the French Riviera.

This multimedia exhibit is intended to provide a journey through all the major phases of the artist’s career. Chagall: Midsummer Night’s Dreams is a story in 12 parts: Vitebsk, Life, Poetry, Collages, The War, Stained Glass, The Opéra Garnier, Daphnis and Chloé, Mosaics, The Circus, Illustrations and The Bible. It presents Chagall’s creativity in all its diversity,,, and his multiple sources of inspiration. The universal themes of love, the family, roots, the landscape, the circus, war, and music are perfectly showcased within the dramatic, magical setting of Les Carrières. 

The choice of the soundtrack accompanying the show was guided by pianist Mikhaïl Rudy, a close friend of Chagall’s.

The Carrières de Lumières are located in the Val d’Enfer, a stone's throw from Les Baux. The quarries here first produced white limestone, used in the construction of the village of Les Baux and its château. In 1821, the aluminum ore bauxite was discovered here by geologist Pierre Berthier, who named it after the village. In 1935, economic competition from modern materials led to the quarries' closure. Dramatic and otherworldly looking, the area has inspired artists of all sorts; it provided the setting for Dante’s Divine Comedy and Gounod created his opera Mireille here. Later, Cocteau came to film The Testament of Orpheus in these very quarries. Formerly known as the Cathedrale des Images, this particular quarry was closed in 2011 and re-opened (after a €2 million re-do) as the Carrières de Lumières in early 2012, under the management of CulturespacesThe Carrières du Val d’Enfer have been awarded Natural Monument status in France. 

For opening hours, prices, directions and more, click here.

Route de Maillane  
13520 Les Baux de Provence 
Tel: +33 4 90 54 47 37

Photos: (1) Rendering of the Carrières de Lumières lit up with the new Chagall show. (2, 3) Two of the many well-known Chagall paintings that have been digitized for projection. More than 3000 images are used in the show.  (4, 5) A photo of the artist (photographer unknown) and a 1956 portrait by Marie Vorobieff.  If you're visiting the Cote d'Azur, don't miss the Chagall Museum in Nice. (6) The quarry in daylight. (7) Another section of the vast space is lit beautifully for private parties and other events. (8) One of my favorite photos of the village of Les Baux, taken by Philippe Clairo

Note: A exhibit called Marc Chagall: Le Cirque will be on view at the Musée Yves Brayer, on the hill in Les Baux, from May 2 to September 29, 2016. For info, contact the museum or the Tourist Office

Another note: Want to spend the night in a quarry? Sure you do! All the details on one very cool Luberon rental are here


  1. This exhibit is amazing! My dad, Stan Gilbert, who had an art gallery in San Francisco's Union Square for 20 years, which featured artists from Chagall to Picasso would have loved this show. Wish I could see it.

  2. Dear Julie, Thanks again for keeping us informed with your gorgeous write-ups. I cannot wait to see this show. Keep it up! Best, Tarik

  3. Dear Julie, oh how I would love to see this exhibit of Chagall's works of art!Thank you for the preview!
    The Arts by Karena