Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMAC)

Inaugurated in 1990, the MAMAC, or Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nice, offers a daring architecture designed to host the works and masterpieces of several dozen talented artists: paintings, drawings, facilities, sculptures …

Bold architecture

MAMAC offers an original and ambitious architecture, in keeping with its vocation as a museum of modern and contemporary art. Composed of a four-footed arch spanning the underground course of Peillon on one side, and the former Route nationale 7 (now crossing Garibaldi) on the other, the museum is located in the heart of the city, helping to reconcile two central aspects in the urban fabric of Nice. On the one hand, urban planning dating from the time when Nice was governed by the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia, and on the other, the utopia generated by the enthusiasm of the Belle Époque. The monumental character of the whole, with its square plan and arcades, is reminiscent of classical architecture. But the play of light echoes a dimension of tranquility that comes to the heart of the city: the olive trees and trees planted on the square are in harmony and the smooth surfaces of the bases, made of Carrara marble, for a dialogue between minerality and nature. MAMAC is part of the “Promenade des Arts” project. The land cleared by the Peillon roofing offers a green corridor in the heart of the city, while allowing the construction of other cultural facilities, such as a theater.

Permanent collections

The museum, housing 1,300 works of art created by more than 300 artists, offers an exhaustive overview of modern and contemporary art from 1950 to the present day. The various collections are mainly focused on the relationship between European New Realism and the American expression of Pop Art and assemblage art. The museum has been able to build up such a collection thanks to the deposits of the Yves Klein archives. The Donation of Niki de Saint Phalle, who donated 190 pieces, including 63 paintings, allows MAMAC to be the museum in France with the largest collection of the artist.

Artists from the 1980’s to the present day are presented, with themes such as figurative painting, advertising esthetics, and the diversion and development of personal mythologies. The museum continues to enrich its collections, in order to make modern and contemporary art known internationally, but also regionally: since the 1950’s, the French Riviera has been marked by a strong artistic emulation that needs to be documented and offered to the public.

Various art movements

Many art movements are represented in the museum. Pop Art, born in the 1950’s in the United Kingdom and very quickly spread to the United States, is still one of the most well-known movements among the general public today. It is supported by artists such as Andy Warhol, certainly the most famous, but also Tom Wesselmann, Claes Oldenburg, Jim Dine, Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, George Segal and John Chamberlain.

New Realism is the French counterpart of Pop’Art. In the early 1960’s, this movement rallied around the critic Pierre Restany. The movement advocated “a new perceptual approach to reality” and was supported by artists such as Yves Klein, but also César, known for his compressions, Arman and his accumulations, Niki de Saint-Phalle and his shootings, Daniel Spoerri and his snare pictures, and Jean Tinguely and his incredible technological resources.

Minimal Art, or Conceptual Art, is also presented at MAMAC. Visitors can discover this movement that seeks to renew the sculptural and pictorial approach to abstraction. From Morris Louis and Ellsworth Kelly to Frank Stella, from Larry Poons to Sol LeWitt, this movement is addressed more to the mind (or the heart) than to the senses.

Raphaël Monticelli, Serge Maccaferri, Martin Miguel, Marcel Alocco, but also Vivien Isnard, Louis Chacallis and Max Charvolen are the artists from Nice who make up the core of Groupe 70, with an approach close to the Supports/Surfaces movement. This movement of the French Riviera is obviously in the spotlight.

The Fluxus group has a particular state of mind, and a nihilistic humor that sometimes borders on the non-art. These artists, inspired by the music of John Cage, La Monte Young or Pierre Schaeffer, who could be described as “dadaist”, embody a renewal by committing themselves to performance art. The main artists of this movement are Robert Filliou, Nam June Paik, Brecht, Beuys, but also Serge III and Pierre Pinoncelli.

Figuration Libre (“Free Figuration”), appeared in the 1980’s, brought together artists such as Robert Combas, Jean-Michel Alberola and Jean-Charles Blais.

Works in situ

The MAMAC also houses several works specially created for the museum. From the entrance, the 33-meter long mural by Tania Mouraud quotes the opera Tosca by Giacomo Puccini. Richard Long, with Stopping and going on, has created a mural in situ that questions the relationship between man and nature, the walker and the landscape he crosses. David Tremlett, an emblematic Land Art artist, was able in 2005 to express his art on the elliptical staircase that gives access to the museum’s terraces.

Several monumental statues also enrich your visit: Loch Ness Monster, by Niki de Saint Phalle, is set up on the forecourt of the Museum of Modern Art and Contemporary Art.

The façades are also used as supports for temporary installations. Claude Viallat, Arman, Sol Levitt, Alain Jacquet, Éric Michel were able to offer the city of Nice living and temporary works of great power.

Exhibitions and events

Modern and contemporary art, of great force of expression and exceptional richness, can be revealed in numerous insights. The exhibitions of the MAMAC of Nice aim to feature well-known or lesser-known artists and movements. In 2020, Lars Fredrikson is in the spotlight with an exhibition dedicated to him. The same year, the exhibition She-Bam Pow POP Wizz! highlights those who are nicknamed the amazones du Pop (Amazons of Pop), very active in the 1960’s and early 1970’s.

Children and young people can also enjoy the work of art. MAMAC organizes, among other things, group visits for schools. On Sunday mornings, on reservation, lecturers, artists and researchers invite visitors for a guided tour. They can thus enrich the discoveries of the visitors through their own eyes. Workshops are also offered regularly.

Practical information

  • Opening days: Every day except Monday. Closed on January 1, Easter Sunday, May 1, and December 25.
  • Schedule: from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. from November 1 to April 30, and from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. from May 2 to October 31.
  • Address: Place Yves Klein, 06364 Nice
  • Access: the museum is located near the historic center. You can easily park at the Promenade des Arts parking lot (18 avenue Saint-Jean-Baptiste, 06000 Nice). It is also accessible by public transport, (Tramway Line 1).

Museums in Nice

 

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