The Carré Saint-Anne is a neo-Gothic church, built in the 19th century, that has been deconsecrated and turned into an art gallery which shows temporary exhibitions of modern and contemporary art.
I stumbled upon it while wandering around the old town in Montpellier. There was an exhibition taking place (I found out later that it was due to end the next day) and as I had a few hours to spare decided to go inside and take a look, especially as it was free!
I was intrigued by the poster advertising the exhibition and the title – l’oeil et le coeur – which means “the eye and the heart”. According to the publicity it was
an exhibition of "curiosities and masterpeices from the collections of Montpellierians,"
The former church made an interesting exhibition space. The neo-Gothic architecture with the high roof meant that it was a very airy space. But reflections from the lancet windows did create some distracting reflections in many of the paintings displayed behind glass.
The exhibition mainly consisted of modern and contemporary art, but also included African sculpture and masks and objects from other cultures.
Paintings owned by different collectors were grouped together. I particularly liked this group.
Although I wasn’t familiar with most of the artists, the little ink drawing of the crucifixion
was by Dora Marr, a French photographer, poet and painter of Croatian descent, who is probably best known as one of Picasso’s mistresses.
There were a number of exhibits that seemed to recreate the rooms in which the collectors displayed their collections. For example, this is La Bibliothèque du Docteur P (Doctor P’s library). Here small scale paintings sculptures and “objets d’art”, including pieces from Africa, the Middle East, China and South America, are displayed in amongst the books in a pretty ordinary bookcase. Paintings were also hung on both walls perpendicular to the bookcase.
The curators had also created a bathroom / toilet – “le Cabinet de Francois” where the walls were almost completely covered by works of art. It was a small room, and only two people were allowed in at one time.
I found the ethnic sculptures and other objects particularly interesting. Several examples of African art from the Ivory Coast and Mali were displayed in the middle of the nave.
In recent years I’ve developed an interest in 20th Century sculpture, including the work of Brancusi, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. Looking at the African sculptures in the exhibition I could really appreciate how these artists had been influenced by the “primitive” style of sculptures created by other cultures.
Here are some other pictures I liked (it wasn’t possible to completely avoid reflections in the glass)
Phillipe Pasqua Lila (2010)
Jean-Pierre Pinceman Sans titre (2004)
Gérard Barthélemy Sans Titre (1985)
I spent about an hour in the gallery, which was enough time to look around a couple of times and then spend some additional time taking a more detailed look at those works that particularly fired my interest.