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Until 9th February 2020

The creation of the art centre: a story of locale, landscape, art… and architecture

The International Centre for Art and Landscape is a place designed for art. It is not devoted to architecture. However, at the very heart of its conception the two disciplines came together, and since then have never ceased to interreact.

The two parts of the building that make up the exhibition space – a lighthouse and a gallery/aqueduct pointing towards the lake - owe their origin to an initiative by a group of sculptors. In the middle of the 1980s the association Limousin Art Contemporain et Sculpteurs was created with the aim of organising a symposium on stone sculpture at Vassivière, and whose ambition was to reinvigorate the use of granite by creating sculptures in that material. This group of individuals came together at an opportune moment: the SYMIVA, the management body for the island, wanted to develop culture and tourism for this public space. Vassivière island became ‘stone island’ and the sculpture park received its first works.

From this initiative soon arose the idea of creating a permanent studio space for these artists, a project that gradually became more ambitious and which evolved into a plan to build a contemporary art centre. In 1987 Dominique Marchès became the director of the future project. The architect XAVIER FABRE, former pupil of Aldo Rossi, who had already completed the Centre d’art du Creux de l’Enfer project in Thiers, was commissioned for this project, along with ALDO ROSSI, who had become his architectural partner. The construction of the new building began in 1989.

Aldo Rossi’s architectural thinking was part of an avant-garde Italian movement which had its roots in the 1950s, la tendenza, features of which could be seen in the project for the contemporary art centre in the Limousin. A challenging layout, the relationship to the landscape, the rhythms, material qualities, functionality of the areas, spatial relationships, movement flows…are all aspects and features that Aldo Rossi and Xavier Fabre chose to use to serve artistic creation and that the Art Centre today proposes to decipher, in these exhibition spaces, in the company of architectural guides. In these same spaces, the younger visitors can also express their creativity by making their own scale models of the lighthouse, and can discover certain key points to help them understand this chapter of architectural history, through an activity booklet put together with the Maison de l’Architecture du Limousin.

The life of the Art Centre: a story of utopias and radical architectural forms

The links that tie the art centre to its architecture, from the beginning an integral part of its DNA, have continued to strengthen during the 30 years of its existence. In an area closely associated with social utopias, the art centre, which became The International Centre for Art and Landscape in 2005, has continued to maintain, through its artistic programming, a close and regular relationship with radical architectural forms and experimental landscaping.

During this period of focus on its architecture, the Art Centre also intends to revisit some of the stories that blend art and architecture, landscape and utopia, drawn from the last fifteen years: the inflatable structures of the architect and illusionist HANS-WALTER MÜLLER, habitable and nomadic environments filled with air, made for the Art Centre in 2007, on display and revealed in the nave from the 9th November; the permanent installations in the sculpture park Balkis and La Licorne de Vassivière completed in 2009 by the humanist and universalist architect YONA FRIEDMAN, who is fond of cartoon drawings; as well as the six works from the area around Vassivière completed in 2018 and 2019 by architects and contemporary landscape artists as part of the Vassivière Utopia project, following on from their creative residencies in Vassivière Castle, transformed in 2012 by the architects Berger&Berger and BuildingBuilding into an artist’s residence for research and creation.

Architecture(s): Press kit