Friday, February 16, 2018

Picasso Opens March 2 in Les Baux...and Paris News

The Carrières de Lumières (Quarries of Light) is a magical space in a vast cave-like quarry at the base of the hilltop village of Les Baux de Provence. There in the cool darkness, close to 100 video projectors and 27 speakers generate the choreographed movement of 2,000 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 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 roughly 2.5 million visitors.

The last show, called Bosch, Brueghel, Arcimboldo: Fantastique et Merveilleux, (March 2017 to January 2018) drew 554,000 people. If you missed it, you'll have another chance as it will be reprised this summer as part of a program called Les Intégrales des Carrières; more on that appears below. 

The quarry is now closed, awaiting the March 2 opening of the next show, called Picasso et les Maitres Espagnols (Picasso and the Spanish Masters). It runs through January 6, 2019.

The Picasso show lasts 32 minutes and plays on a continuous loop, tracing a century of modern Spanish painting. Part #1 highlights portraits and scenes of daily life painted by Goya, Rusiñol, Zuloaga, and Sorolla; part #2 focuses on Picasso. This year's soundtrack--providing the perfect emotion and rhythm as the images dance from sequence to sequence--blends Beethoven, Bizet and Debussy with Glenn Miller, Keith Jarrett, Otis Redding and many others.

Picasso and the Spanish Masters is part a major international initiative called Picasso-Méditerranée, initiated by the Musée National Picasso-Paris. Between spring 2017 and spring 2019, more than 60 cultural institutions are staging programs or exhibits based upon the artist's Mediterranean work.

Following the Picasso show at the Carrières there's a short (nine-minute) program called Flower Power, celebrating the  pop culture of the 1960s and "the idealistic generation that changed the world." Music comes from Jimmy Hendrix, the Stones, the Beatles, the Beach Boys and more. The Flower Power show was created by Danny Rose, an art and design studio known for immersive audiovisual works.

Once again, this summer the Carrières will reprise the last three shows on ten special evenings in July, August and September. Called "Les Intégrales des Carrières," these special 8:30 pm projections will allow visitors the chance to experience ), Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael: Giants of the Renaissance (2015), Chagall: Midsummer Night's Dreams (2016) and Bosch, Brueghel, Arcimboldo: Fantastique et Merveilleux (2017). On each of these ten nights, you'll get to see all three shows. The dates are July 23, 24 and 25; August 6, 7, 8; and September 14, 15, 21 and 22.  Tickets for these special reprise showings are 24 and can be purchased here.

The Carrières de Lumières are located in the Val d’Enfer, a stone's throw from the hilltop village of Les Baux. The quarries here first produced white limestone, used in the construction of the village and its château. In 1821, 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. The Carrières du Val d’Enfer have been awarded Natural Monument status in France. 

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 the following year, under the management of Culturespaces, the leading private organization managing French monuments and museums.

Based on the success of the digital exhibits at the Carrières de Lumières,  Culturespaces will launch the new Atelier des Lumières in Paris on April 13. Located in a former foundry in the 11th arrondissement, the Atelier will offer three exhibits in two areas. The opening "long program" will focus on Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele while a shorter program looks at the work of Friedensreich Hundertwasseranother artist who symbolised Viennese creativity. To see a very nice teaser for the new venue, click here.

Back in Les Baux, adult tickets to the Picasso show are €12.50, kids under 7 are free. There are also family rates and combined-visit prices (Carrières + Chateau des Baux +Musee Brayer) on the website, along with opening hours, directions and much more. 

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

Photos: (1) You can be sure everyone is tres busy at the moment in the chilly caves at Les Baux, putting finishing touches on the upcoming show at the Carrières de Lumières. (2, 3) Two of the many images you'll see in the show: Picasso's 1922 "Deux Femmes Courant Sur La Plage" and "Just Out of the Sea" by Joaquin Sorolla, 1915. (4) This looks like fun: after the 32-minute Picasso sound-and-light show, you'll see a nine-minute projection called Flower Power, celebrating the 1960s. (5) The old bauxite quarry, now the Carrières de Lumières, in daylight. The geologist who first discovered aluminum ore here named it after the village. (6) One section of the vast space is often lit beautifully for private parties and other events. (7) One of my favorite photos of the village of Les Baux, taken by Philippe Clairo. (8) I went looking to see if Picasso was ever photographed in Les Baux and found a number of great shots taken by the late Arles-based photographer Lucien Clergue, on the set of "The Testament of Orpheus," in 1959. To the left of the artist are Jacqueline Picasso and Luis Miguel Dominguin. On the right, Jean Cocteau, actress Lucia Bose and choreographer Serge Lifar. (9, 10) Based on the success of the Carrières de Lumières, Culturespaces will open the Atelier des Lumieres in Paris on April 13. The new digital art center will host three shows at once, in a former foundry in the 11th arrondissement.

For general information including upcoming activities in Les Baux, click here.

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