EXHIBITION Rivers and vineyards
Since the creation of a large port in ancient times, the fate of wine and seafaring have always been directly linked to Bordeaux. During the Bordeaux Wine Festival- which has consciously widened its outlook towards the rivers and oceans- the shared adventures of the main local economy (wine) and seafaring are to be told by an exhibition on the quays. Over a dozen steps, learn through text, maps, photographs, engravings and drawings about the relationship between wine and seafaring, one that has lasted 20 centuries. Thursday 14th June to Monday 18th June: 10.30am-8pm. On the quays in front of Quinconces. Free.
Biarritz, Cherbourg, Dunkerque and Brest all have one, what made you want to make another museum for seafaring or the sea? The oceans, the underwater world, ports and navigation, the Navy… each one has its own speciality. Our ambitions aren’t the same; we’re dealing with the sea AND seafaring. We’re looking to offer many perspectives, to explore the least known colossus of nature, to describe the complex nature of the relationship between man and the oceans and to share the concerns that we have for this immense living mass that occupies 70% of this earth, a planet which will be so deeply affected by the oceans’ future.
How have you fulfilled these missions? The “MMM” represents one of the major private cultural investments of the decade and it’s of national importance. With over 7000m2, the exhibition spaces are twice as large as the Louis Vuitton Foundation’s. However, first and foremost, this is the result of having a team built on solid partnerships which have guaranteed the coherence of what we’ve created. We work particularly closely with the universities of La Rochelle and Bordeaux and a lab at the French National Centre for Scientific Research; it’s a work in progress which will see our collections constantly evolve thanks to the input of scientific research. It is a space for telling stories. As soon as you cross the threshold, you are immersed. It is set up in a chrono- thematic way: from the birth of the oceans and the birth of life to their preservation, touching on tales of a small and grand scale along the way: fishing, seafaring, the great explorations, migrations, off- shore racing… the sea is itself also a story of dangers and dreams, conquests and empires, techniques and innovations, economical exchanges, cultural crossroads. These stories will be told using things such as small boats, models that are metres long, common objects, works of art and screens. The exhibition sometimes adopts a specific focus, such as the section on Jules Verne and his Nautilus, introducing modernity.
I am not a fan of architecture that aims to dazzle at any cost. What’s important for me is the utility of the design. Though a ziggourat design might appear complicated, it is not at all in reality. The architectural stroll is very easy, the markers are obvious. The hanging gardens give an exterior walkway which wraps around the interior spaces. Inside, the levels that would normally be in an awkward position are linked by light wells and flows. Each plateau is stripped down and removed so that they can be seen as vast open spaces from the outside. The public will be both outside and inside at the same time, seeing several floors at once, and making their way through as they seem fit, thus shaping their own experience. The architecture’s strength comes from the multiplicity of perspectives that it creates.
The museum emanates from that. A two thousand year-old history that develops across the whole space. While Bordeaux was influenced by global history, its own provides us with a window from which to look at the rest of the world.
Put the 15th June in your diary, as we’ll be opening the temporary exhibition spaces with a large Monet exhibition in partnership with Musée Marmottan Monet. There are going to be 41 of his works, ranging from his portraits to the quasi abstract works, including ones from his famous Water Lilies and Houses of Parliament series. As for the other rooms, they will be opening little by little up over the rest of the year. You’ll also be able to see the original manuscript for Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea but later in the year.
“There is not one in the whole school of 1830 that paints a landscape like him… and then there’s the water! He is the Raphael of painting water. He knows its movements, its depths, its rhythms.” Edouard Manet’s praise underlines the original influence and permanent pre-eminence of water in Monet’s work. When it isn’t the main element, such as in Impression, Sunrise- a painting that gave its name to the impressionist movement, signaling an “official” beginning for modernity in art- water often interferes or forms the counterpoint, as in Water Lilies. This influence was born in Le Havre where Monet grew up. It was the sea that first gave him a sense of spectacle, overwhelming the senses, touching him with the deepest of feelings and it served as his benchmark. The spectacle of the sea was forever changing according to tides, the weather, the light. Courbet said as much when replying to Daubigny about one of his studies: “it is not a study of the sea so much as of time”. Monet took pains to make this distinction over the final thirtyfive years of his life, making a number of series on the same subject in hundreds of different paintings, each from a particular moment on a particular day: Haystacks, Poplars, Rouen Cathedral, Houses of Parliament and, of course, his Water Lilies. It is, therefore, not by chance that this “Raphael of the water” has been chosen as the inaugural exhibition for le Musée Mer Marine. 41 canvasses and 13 drawings will be on display from the Parisian museum of Marmottan Monet, which holds the largest Monet collection in the world. The student of Eugène Boudin, the father of impressionism, the ' naturalist' painter of modernity, the ' tachist' working towards abstract art: it goes without saying that this meeting with Monet is not to be missed. ‘Masterpieces of the Marmottan Monet Museum’ ('Chefs d'oeuvre du Musée Marmottan Monet') 15th June to 26th August 2018. Open every day. Musée Mer Marine 89 rue des Étrangers 33 300 Bordeaux www.museedelamerbordeaux.fr