Rudy Ricciotti designs the new Jean Cocteau museum in Menton

A concrete and steel jewel set on the promenade

by Malcolm Clark
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Last November the new Musée Jean Cocteau, dedicated to one of the town's most famous citizens, was inaugurated in Menton on one of the most beautiful promenades on the Côte d’Azur.

Rudy Ricciotti Architecte D.P.L.G. designed this building with a futurist taste, a concrete and steel jewel set on the promenade like a sea sponge, some seaweed washed up on the beach by the tide.

Its façades, furrowed by deep and dark cuts, seem to be crossed by gigantic tentacles protecting a jewel with darkened windows. It provides a powerful and evocative image for one of the most eclectic and multi-faceted French personalities of the 20th century. Cocteau was a versatile and original poet, who often made incursions into narrative, painting and cinema (his adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast” was the first made for the cinema).

The new museum was built directly opposite the Bastion that Cocteau had received from the Mayor of Menton as thanks for the famous fresco decorating the weddings room of the town hall.

Cocteau was so infatuated by this small building that he decided to take it upon himself to renovate it and made it the backdrop for his famous series of paintings “innamorati” and for other works designed there as a sort of artistic testament.

After being transformed into a small museum, the bastion opened its doors in 1966, three years after the artist's death. Menton does not intend to replace this with the new museum. It is the ideal completion of a triangle dedicated to the artist along with the town hall and the Bastion.

It contains almost 2000 works of the artist, who, despite being born just a few kilometres from Paris, made the coastal town his elected domicile. The museum received a precious donation from the collector Severin Wunderman, leading light in the high fashion sector and friend of the artist, who, after having created a museum in his name in California, accepted to return most of his collection to France as long as the municipality of Menton would construct a new museum to house it.

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    Musée Jean Cocteau 65

    Musée Jean Cocteau

    Menton / France / 2011