October 30, 2017

Carrières de Lumières: Art in a Quarry

If you enjoy art and would like to experience creative talent in a unique environment, consider a visit to a quarry dug deep into the foothills of the Alpilles Mountains of Provence. Carrières de Lumières is a venue for high tech multi-media shows that in past years have highlighted the works of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Gustav Klimt and Vincent Van Gogh. The art featured in 2017 is The Fantastic and Wonderful World of Bosch, Brueghel & Arcimboldo.

The Fantastic and Wonderful World of Bosch, Brueghel & Arcimboldo
Carrières de Lumières, Les Baux de Provence

Foothills of the Alpilles Mountains

Entrance to Carrières de Lumières

My experience at Carrières de Lumières began with a short tribute to French film director Georges Méliès (who was featured in the 2011 movie Hugo, starring Ben Kingsley). The darkened quarry resembled a cavernous nightclub with pulsing music and moving images projected on the limestone ceiling, walls and floor.

Limestone Quarry Walls

The "Cinemagician": a Tribute to Georges Méliès

The main show on the three featured artists lasted about 30 minutes. I’m not really familiar with their work although I do recall some of the nightmarish images from Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights. Photos (without flash) are allowed but they don’t do the presentation justice. The soaring soundtrack included pieces as diverse as Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

Garden of Earthly Delights
Hieronymus Bosch (1490-1500)

The Fight Between Carnival and Lent
Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1559)

Spring, Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1563)

There’s no seating available for the presentation but the site includes a café and gift shop. Visitors may wish to bring a sweater but I was quite happy without. On a day where temperatures in Provence approached 37°C (98°F), the ambient temperature of 15°C (59°F) in the quarry was a welcome bonus. For more information, including news on next year’s featured presentation when it becomes available, visit the Carrières de Lumières web site.

Café at Carrières de Lumières

At the entrance to the quarry are miniature versions of The Four Seasons, four sculptures by contemporary artist Philip Haas, inspired by the paintings of Giuseppe Arcimboldo. Each sculpture is composed of seasonal plants, fruits and vegetables. The full sized sculptures are displayed at Châteaux des Baux, the ruins of the old fortress in nearby Les Baux de Provence, until December 2017.

Winter, Philip Haas

Spring, Philip Haas

Summer, Philip Haas

Fall, Philip Haas

Les Baux de Provence

Château des Baux

Along with this journey through the surreal worlds of Bosch, Brughel and Arcimboldo, I also made a visit to the psychiatric hospital known for treating an artist who created some unique paintings of his own, Vincent Van Gogh. But that’s a story I’ll save for next time.

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