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Musée d'art Classique, Mougins, France




Pippa Jane Wielgos

The Musée d'Art Classique de Mougins has been nominated for the European Museum of the Year Award 2013, after receiving applications from 21 member countries of the Council of Europe.

The award follows its multi-million-pound re-opening in May 2011. 

The museum, founded by Christian Levett, (the British investment manager and art collector), made the application because of its significant cultural and educational contribution to the local, regional, national, and the international community in a display that reflects the cultural history of both the South of France and the western world.

The museum’s diverse collection, acquired by its founder over eight years, comprises of over 700 antiquities, including Roman, Greek and Egyptian sculpture, vases, coins, and jewellery in addition to noteworthy examples of modern European works. 

The exhibition juxtaposes ancient and modern artworks from the fifth-century BC alongside examples of classically-inspired paintings, drawings, and sculptures by artists as Peter Paul Rubens, Auguste Rodin, Picasso and Matisse, Chagall, Dufy, Cézanne, Rodin, Dali, Andy Warhol, Marc Quinn, Damien Hirst. It also includes Antony Gormley's work "Reflections" (2001), two imposing cast -iron male figures that echo the Greek myth of Narcissus.

Other exhibits include a Roman Venus next to Salvador Dalí's surrealist Venus de Milo, a blue Venus cast by Yves Klein and The Birth of Venus by Andy Warhol. The lower-ground floor shows Egyptian tomb reliefs and a painted sarcophagus beside Alexander Calder's colourful pyramids and a sphinx by Cocteau. 

Sir John Boardman, Emeritus Lincoln Professor of Classical Archaeology and Art at the University of Oxford described it as "a triumphant demonstration of a proper understanding of the relevance and history of Western arts, as well as a splendid display of them in context."

Mark Merrony, Director of the Classical Museum, classical archaeologist and editor "Minerva"said in recent interview with Pippa Jane Wielgos said:-

“The interpretation of classical-modern art will certainly be enhanced by our concept. It will enhance the already strong reputation of Young British Artists in the sphere of European culture and art."

In 2011, the museum (which was opened on 3 June), received the Apollo Museum Opening of the Year Award.

Earlier this year, The Musée d'Art Classique de Mougins, holder of the world’s largest private collections of ancient arms and armour won the Golden Ken for Best Museum for 2012, attributed by Nouveau Tourism Culturel.

© Pippa Jane Wielgos

Photographs & text Pippa Jane Wielgos.

Above right photograph: Antony Gormley, "Reflection" (2001).

Sir Antony Gormley, KB OBE RA

"Reflection" (2001), Mougins

Antony Gormley is widely acclaimed for his sculptures, installations and public artworks that investigate the relationship of the human body to space. His work has developed the potential opened up by sculpture since the 1960s through a critical engagement with both his own body and those of others in a way that confronts fundamental questions of where human being stands in relation to nature and the cosmos. Gormley continually tries to identify the space of art as a place of becoming in which new behaviours, thoughts and feelings can arise.

He is also is the British sculptor who explores the relationship between the individual and the community in large-scale installations for over 30 years. His most celebrated landmarks works include the "Angel of the North" (Newcastle upon Tyne) in the North of England (1995-98), commissioned in 1994 and erected in February 1998, and a works as "Another Place" on Crosby Beach (Liverpool) and "Event Horizon", a mult-part site installation which premiered in London 2007, Madison Square (New York) and Sao Paulo in 2012, "Allotment" (1995), "Domain Field" (2003) and "Another Place (1997) and "Inside Australia" (2003).

"Reflection was always designed to be seen in relation to an architectural setting. The work is seen with a ground floor window separating an internal figure from an external one. The conditions of the internal figure are constant and the other is exposed to the changes of weather. The work is a play between something that appears as the illusion of a reflection but was in fact real. In its installation at the National Museum in Tokyo, the De Cordova Museum in Boston, Euston Road in London and in all of its installations the work is sited in such a way that it relates to the coming and going of the public. The work is a reflection on the nature of art making; questioning both the idea that art holds up a mirror to appearances and what lies beneath the skin.

This work, like much of my work, is made from a moulding of me. I want to address my not-self rather in the manner of Robert de Niro in Taxi Driver when addressing his own reflection; 'You talkin' to me?!’ At stake is whether the act of making sculpture might be the interrogation of something unknown and unseen, rather than being the reinforcement of the known. The attitude is one of attentiveness, and this connects to a longstanding concern of mine regarding where reflection and reflexivity come together. As I have written elsewhere, the greatest challenge to each of us is to recognise the other in ourselves and this idea of two identical casts that face one another from opposite sides of a clear barrier is really a physical metaphor of that idea of the encounter of self as other. This is a complete rejection of the myth of Narcissus falling in love with the superficial beauty of the self and replaces that idea of the mirror, the perfect copy, with an invitation towards reflexivity.

The work was made initially for an exhibition in Japan at the Contemporary Sculpture Centre where the relationship of the gallery to the street was carried by a large window that went down to the ground. There is a catalogue, Antony Gormley, CSC Tokyo, that covers this exhibition. The work was made in 2000 and in the catalogue we reproduced a photograph of the work staring into a plumbers’ merchants on Bellenden Road in London, where I had my studio at the time. The work is a meditation on inclusion and exclusion and the notion of interrogating the built environment. By placing this naked, anonymous human body at either side of the enclosing membrane of the building I want to ask how the human encounters himself within this built environment. Right from the beginning, the idea of the piece was that it should be integrated within a threshold or a ground floor location and that, by implication, it should activate the building giving visitors the opportunity to reflect on our built habitat.

There is no relationship between this work to classical art. The idealisation and sexualisation of the female body or the sculpture of the hero in Greek and Roman statuary is of a different order. Here we have a vulnerable, naked human being who is not engaged in heroic action or carrying the attributes of power or godhead. This is about the human being as a vulnerable and uncertain point of consciousness. The idea of the work was not by any means to reinterpret the body as an object, certainly not as idealised, but to think about incarnation from the inside rather than as form of representation. I see the work as simply displacing a human space in space at large in such a way that we can identify with it. It is a catalyst for reflexivity and asks a question about who we are. The work comes from a registered moment of being and not doing and hopefully encourages the same in the viewer.

My work divides into two very clear trajectories: one is to give an account of what it feels like to inhabit the body and to make an objective correlative of that feeling, and the other is to make situations in which the viewer becomes the subject. Throughout my career I have made installations that in some way demand a certain auto-observation or proprioception on the part of the viewer, rather than the contemplation of an object. Examples of such works would be series such as ‘Field’ (1989–93), ‘Allotment’ (1995–2008), ‘Clearing’ (2004–10), ‘Breathing Room’ (2006–12) and ‘Blind Light’ (2007), as well as works likeHorizon Field Hamburg (2012) and Room (1980). All of these, in my view, are instrumental spaces that invite a first-hand physical experience that encourages a degree of reflexivity in the participant".

Anthony Gormley's current exhibition is : Metier, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Saltzburg, 18 May - 13 July 2013 METER, GALERIE THADDAEUS ROPAC, SALZBURG, 2013

Courtesy: Antony Gormley Studio, London. June 2013.


5 Rue des Mûriers

06250 Vieux Village de Mougins


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The "Beth Shean Bust". A monumental marble janiform herm of marmo  lunese marble depicting the heads of Bacchus and Ariadne. 1st century AD. Height 47.5 cms. Width 32 cm. MMoCA20.


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