Visiting the Musée National Picasso in Paris on the occasion of the exhibition ‘19’ in January this year, was a memorable experience and another opportunity to reconnect with the rich cultural heritage this city has to offer.
Accommodated in a sumptuous 17th century Mazarin-style hôtel particulier in Le Marais - the 3rd arrondissement, the museum holds the world’s largest public Picasso collection. As I stepped in, I was dazzled by the grandeur of the building, which has been the home of this intimate art collection since 1974 - one year after Picasso’s death.
The mansion was built between 1656 and 1659 simultaneously with Nicolas Fouquet’s Vaux-le-Vicompte , by Pierre Aubert de Fontenay - a rich collector of salt tax, who had commissioned architect Jean Boullier de Bourges for the works of his new residence which received suggestive the name 'Hôtel Salé' (n.a. 'salty' in French). Three centuries later, the imposing building was renovated by architect Roland Simounet to accommodate the Picasso collections.
An architectural masterpiece in its own right, the central staircase (l’Escalier d’Honneur) had been assigned to the brothers Gaspard and Balthazar Marsy and Martin Desjardins, all sculptors at the Royal Court of Louis XIV and built in the style of Michelangelo’s Bibilioteca Laurenziana (Laurentian Library) in Florence, Italy, with two imperial flights of stairs overlooked by a protruding balcony followed by a gallery.
Yet, I was overjoyed to discover aside Picasso’s masterpieces, a stunning collection of 50 pieces of light fixtures and furniture, designed by Diego Giacometti exclusively for the redevelopment of the Hôtel Salé in 1985. This impressive commission consisted of bronze benches, chairs and tables gracefully executed in a simple classic Greek style, together with delicate tulip-shaped light bulbs or bronze lanterns decorated with pairs of little birds and foliage, motifs that reflected his taste for nature and greenery.
The pendant lights were produced by Studio Haligon whilst Jacques Redoutey foundry was in charge with the manufacture of the furniture, which was delivered to the museum shortly after Giacometti’s death, in July 1985.
With its superb stucco and stone décor, complemented by the pure aesthetics of Diego Giacometti’s designs, this light-infused space is a perfect canvas for this exclusive art collection.
Coming Soon to Musée National Picasso - Paris
« DIEGO GIACOMETTI AU MUSÉE PICASSO »
From 17 May to Octobre 2018 the museum will organise the exhibition « Diego Giacometti au Musée Picasso » (Diego Giacometti at the Picasso Museum). This will be a unique occasion to explore the genesis of the exceptional commission received by Diego Giacometti in 1982 for the refurbishment of the Hôtel Salé, today the Picasso National Museum in Paris.
This unique collection of chairs, benches, tables and lighting fixtures, designed exclusively for the museum represents the pinnacle of Diego Giacometti’s work, and also his last commission, before his death in July 1985.
Last but not least, the exhibition will showcase the new seating created for the Musée National Picasso in partnership with ECAL and Tectona.
Musée National Picasso - Paris is open to the public every day from 10h30 to 18h00, Monday to Sunday
Address: 5 rue de Thorigny 75003 Paris.
Telephone: 33 1 85 56 00 36.