Le Château La Coste, France
In Puy-Sainte-Réparade, in the heart of Provence near Aix-en-Provence, the Château La Coste, a 500-acre vineyard, offers a two-hour long “Art & Architecture” itinerary among vineyards, scrubland and forest. This artistic itinerary features 34 outdoor works: sculptures and installations by internationally renowned artists, buildings designed by today’s most prominent architects and even a landscaped garden (Potager, 2014) signed Louis Benech. Here, according to Irish millionaire Patrick “Paddy” McKillen’s wish, nature, contemporary art and architecture are at the heart of the estate’s activity.
First encounter upon arriving on the estate of the Château La Coste: a long, sleek, V-shaped building made of smooth concrete, glass and metal, surrounded by water. This center, which hosts a café-restaurant and a bookstore, was conceived by Japanese architect Tadao Ando and remarkably interacts with its natural environment. The gigantic bay windows blur the separation between indoors and the outdoors. A colonnade leads visitors to the vineyards. The water reflects the concrete walls. Artworks emerge from these basins: a spider by Louise Bourgeois (Crouching Spider, 2007), a mobile by Alexander Calder (Small Crinkly, 1976), etc.
Stars of contemporary architecture
On this historical wine estate, you will find no castle or old stones. Contemporary architecture prevails. No less than four Pritzker laureate architects – the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in architecture – have designed buildings or installations for this large natural park. In addition to Tadao Ando’s numerous contributions, visitors will also discover the winery – two shiny aluminum hemi-cylinders – by Jean Nouvel; the music Pavilion – an explosion of shapes and stacked elements – originally conceived for the Serpentine Gallery in 2008 by Frank Ghery; and the exhibition Pavilion – partly underground, its glass roof blending with the horizon – by Renzo Piano. Patrick McKillen is planning on a new exhibition pavilion by Richard Rodgers (and a 5th laureate!)
The large majority of the works are site-specific. Architects and artists have been given total freedom in creating and placing their works; and the promenade “Art & Architecture” stretches over the whole estate. Among others, visitors will stumble upon three sheets of steel by Richard Serra (AIX, 2008), a skulk of golden bronze foxes hidden in the woods, by former REM singer Michael Stipe (Fox, 2008), a yellow phallus erected among trees (Faux-pas, 2006) by Franz West, a cross made of red glass beads by Jean-Michel Othoniel (La Grande Croix Rouge, 2007-2008) located near the amazing chapel reimagined by Tadao Ando’s work on light, or, at the end of a long board walk, an installation by Tracy Emin (Self-Portrait: Cat Inside A Barrel, 2013).
A collection of works by renowned contemporary artists, featuring several truly remarkable pieces
Liam Gillick’s Multiplied Resistence Screened (2010) is an interactive artwork made of aluminum and stainless steel and into which visitors are encouraged to enter and move the sliding walls, thus creating surprising graphic combinations of colors and lines against the natural background.
Andy Goldsworthy takes visitors underground into a huge dome made of intertwined oak branches. Oak Room (2009) is half-way between a shelter and a dark hole. Two almost antithetical works by British artist Sean Scully are facing each other from across a vineyard patch: Boxes Full of Air (2015) and Wall of Light Cubed (2007). These two works feature her signature geometries: one of them plays with “full”, pink and gray-colored blocks of stone, whereas the other plays with “hollow” metallic frames that seem to fragment the landscape.
Brazilian sculptor Tunga conceived Psicopompos (2011), which consists of three monumental arches made of stone from a local quarry and magnets to which are suspended blocks of different minerals: quartz from Peru or glass prisms. These strange systems play with symbolism since in Greek mythology Psicopompos are the tools used to measure human souls on their way to the afterlife.
The work that was most recently added to the estate is located on its outskirts and hidden in a grove. Dead End (2018), by Sophie Calle, is a white marble grave onto which is engraved this epitaph: “Here lies the wanderer’s secrets”. A slot at the center of the grave allows visitors to slip written confessions on pieces of paper available nearby. Through the poetry of the gesture and the location of the installation, Sophie Calle manages to carve a moment of introspection, out of time, into this itinerary.
If one wants to take the time to truly look and reflect on the works, visiting the sculpture park of the Château La Coste, which opened to the public in 2011, will require good walking shoes and more than the recommended two hours. Visitors will wander on the trails, turn around, get lost, linger. The views on the hills of Provence and the rows of vines, the light and the colors of the South of France all offer a beautiful setting for the contemporary artworks. At the end of the visit, enjoy a glass of organic rosé from the estate to complete the experience.
Château La Coste
2750 Route de la Cride
13610 Le Puy Ste Réparade, France
Phone : +33 (0)4 42 61 92 92