This museum is a succession of love stories: firstly that of Cocteau with the town of Menton, a reciprocal infatuation which manifests through the artist’s multiple visits to the town, and the opening of a museum dedicated to his work in an old fort, the Bastion, in 1966. Then the story of the American collector, Séverin Wunderman, who at just 19 fell under Cocteau’s charm and began a collection that today is made up of 1,800 works including 990 by Jean Cocteau himself. Throughout his entire life, the watchmaker collected works by the French poet and his artist friends, an invaluable collection that the American exhibited in a dedicated museum in California but swore, one day, to bring back to France. His meeting with Jean-Claude Guibal, the mayor of Menton, made this a reality.
“Something Hard to Pick Up” This is how Jean Cocteau described his work, a multifaceted effort, poetic, complex, which mixed writing, poetry, cinema and drawing. An emblematic artistic figure, Cocteau was a forerunner of this multidisciplinary approach. Indeed, Cocteau is a whole universe, a dandy, and a hub around which you might bump into Picasso, Modigliani, Apollinaire, André Breton, Erik Satie, Proust, Gide, Piaf, Chanel or Jean Marais… The museum designed by the architect Rudy Ricciotti aims to be a jewel box for this world, the protective container of an atmosphere that embodies this group of creatives. Although made of stone, the building is a light and floating sculpture of 2,700 square meters. Its architecture represents a whole culture, a spirit, and captures the attention of visitors with its lines evoking projects by Frank Gehry. Based in Bandol, Rudy Ricciotti is very attached to Provence and here he delivers an emotional structure resembling the poet’s work. This is presented according to seven sequences, representing the major stages and encounters in Cocteau’s life: Chamber Theatre, Transformation, A Contentious Spirit, Jean L’Oiseleur (the bird-catcher), The Blood of a Poet, Mysteries, and Testaments. His love affair with the public continues... Musée Jean CocteauCollection Séverin Wunderman Menton