The Villa Carmignac through the eyes of Anne Racine

This is one of those unique places that seems suspended in time and space. A former farm reconverted into a villa by architect Henri Vidal, the Villa Carmignac spread new roots on the island of Porquerolles, in Hyères, in 2018. Here, the focus is on nature: there are hints of some of the four elements here and there, such as water and earth. During the unguided tour, to enjoy with bare feet, the many vistas unveil themselves, like tableaux turned towards the vineyards of the region. In charge of the communication and development of this amazing site, Anne Racine reveals its many charms. Interview.

You joined the Fondation Carmignac almost two years ago. Why did you choose to develop the Villa in Porquerolles?

After a long career in the public sector, I thought it would be interesting to renew my approach in a private foundation. More importantly, it was the meeting with Édouard and Charles Carmignac and the utopian dimension of the project itself that fascinated me. Not to mention the beauty of the site!

What was your vision for the locations?

Our objective was to integrate the Villa Carmignac in Porquerolles while appealing to a national and international audience. As soon as we opened, Charles Carmignac wanted to build tight bonds with what he calls “the local constellation”: the Port-Cros National Park, the city of Hyères, the Villa Noailles and the École Supérieure d’Art et de Design Toulon Provence Méditerranée. For the second year in a row, together with the Villa Noailles, we are co-hosting an art walk that allows collectors of the Marseille Art-O-Rama fair to walk through our respective locations by way of the Hôtel des Arts in Toulon, the Villa Tamaris, the Domaine du Rayol, the Venet Foundation and La Commanderie de Peyrassol… Echoing this aim to open up the Fondation, our social networks also contribute in their own way to this dynamic by enhancing local, national and international initiatives. 

How does this site differ from the Fondation in Paris?

The 300 works of art of the collection were displayed on the walls of the Carmignac company in Paris for many years, as well as in the company’s offices abroad. But they could not be seen by the public at large. Édouard Carmignac dreamt of a place to share his collection with as many people as possible, “a place that connects us to our roots, to nature, to our own nature.” The Villa Carmignac was born from an instant love affair with the island of Porquerolles and for the site itself. In this setting, the artwork has “the capacity to transform us.” As for the garden, created by landscaper Louis Benech, it is populated by works specially commissioned for the location.

The forces of nature (earth, stone, water) are omnipresent. How would you describe the energy of these sites?

The act of landing on an island is a way of leaving the real world and “crossing to the other side.” This idea deeply marks the energy of the sites and makes the Villa a unique place. The act of leaving the continent so as to return to our roots, to face the force of the landscapes and elements, has a striking effect on our visitors. You should also know that when you enter the Villa, you must take off your shoes. The visit takes place barefoot, directly on the stone floor. Outside, the pine forests, the azure blue sea and the winding paths filled with a scrubland of rock rose, oak forests and an olive grove, strewn with protected species only found in Porquerolles (flax-leaf broom, wild orchids…), heighten this sense of renewed connection.

What type of project might we see here in the future?

Every year, a new curator offers a personal vision of the Carmignac collection. Additionally, artists are invited to form works in situ, offering visitors their interpretation of the space. Our objective is to create a surprise effect and to ensure that their experience is renewed.

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