Cocteau's Coastal Home

Celebrating the Global Center for the Artist's Work: Menton

Poet, artist, filmmaker, playwright and critic, Jean Cocteau was one of the most ebullient personalities—and most prolific jack-of-all-trades—of the 20th century. An irrefutably charming Parisian, his friends included Picasso, Marcel Proust, Coco Chanel and Edith Piaf. But beyond his impressive ability to cherry-pick the modern period’s future-greats as his companions, Cocteau’s work in art, film and literature had a profound influence on the generations of creatives that would follow, notably Andy Warhol (who is said to have had a penchant for Cocteau’s neoclassical illustrations) and the French New Wave directors (who were inspired by Cocteau’s refusal to work according to the norms of cinematic style). Among his many passions, Cocteau had an attachment to the south of France, and would spend every summer looking for inspiration along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. During an aimless afternoon promenade in Menton—the Côte d’Azur town now home to Mauro Colagreco’s Mirazur restaurant—he fell in love with the Bastion of the port of Menton, an abandoned 17th-century fortress, and set his heart upon restoring it to exhibit his own artworks; the building was given to him by Menton's Mayor as a thank-you for painting murals in the wedding rooms of the town hall. Though the museum did not open its doors until 1966—three years after the artist’s death—it’s a lasting testimony to his vision. Filled with decorations, mosaics and tapestries designed by Cocteau himself, the building is home to a large selection of the artist’s paintings created between 1950 and 1963. In 2011, Menton is to host the launch of a second museum dedicated to the artist, which will collect 1,525 pieces donated by art collector Severin Wunderman—the largest exhibition of Cocteau’s work in the world. 
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