Pierre Arnaud Foundation: An Art Temple in Lens, Switzerland

Saida Santana

The Pierre Arnaud Foundation’s headquarters in the French-speaking side of Switzerland were designed by Jean-Pierre Emery. The state-of-the-arts building combines the natural elements with sophisticated interior spaces and hosts exhibitions and multidisciplinary art events.

The Pierre Arnaud Foundation is one of the most significant cultural assets in the Swiss city of Lens. Created in 2007, the institution organizes art exhibits, establishes conceptual dialogues with other centers and has become a meeting place for the most brilliant minds in the art world. Strategically located near the Crans-Montana region, canton of Valais, the Foundation’s headquarters offers an open cultural program available to locals and visitors alike.Pierre Arnaud was a generous businessman and an art enthusiast. After moving to Switzerland, Arnaud met Michel Lehner, another great art lover and one of the first collectors of the Savièse School. Soon after, Arnaud embarked on a great adventure as a collector of magnificent pieces from said movement.pierre arnaud foundation, art centers, lens, jean-pierre emery, fundación pierre arnaud, pierre arnaud foundation library, summer and winter exhibitions at pierre arnaud foundation

The Arnaud family has continued to enrich the collection with new artworks and established the Pierre Arnaud Foundation to honor his memory in Lens, the town he had loved so much.

The Foundation’s headquarters were designed by Jean-Pierre Emery. It stands in a landscape of unsurpassed beauty. With a cost estimated at more than US $15 million, the structure boasts 11,000 square feet of exhibition space and wisely combines external natural elements with sophisticated interior spaces. The building’s facade, made of photovoltaic glass, acts as a striking mirror that reflects the lake and the alpine scenery.

The sunlight filters towards the interior, easily and subtly, to protect the works on display. The strategic layout, created by the architectural firm JP Emery & Partners is complemented by the work of set designer Adrien Gardère, who is also responsible for the exhibition areas of the new Louvre-Lens Museum.

The Pierre Arnaud Foundation is a mandatory destination for those who enjoy art and nature. Inside, you’ll find a magnificent restaurant, the boutique, a bookstore and amazing views of the mountains from the rooftop garden. The Foundation also features a program of multidisciplinary events, including music, dance and performances, among other activities, which run parallel to the exhibitions.

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Part of the charm and relevance of this building is that it fulfills a very enriching social function for the area where it is located. It diversifies the range of activities in Crans-Montana and has become a meeting place where everyone has equal access to art and culture with a program of two exhibitions per year.

Their first exhibition was dedicated to the movement called Divisionism, and the second was a nod to Surrealism and Primitive Art.

Divisionism: Colour Mastered? Colour Detonated! Mastery of Colour? Effusion of Colour! was an exploration of Swiss painting and its relationship with the major international art movements that appeared between 1800 and 1950.

The group called the Divisionists was known for using optical combinations of colors as opposed to mixing chemical chromatic pigments on the palette. The challenge was to tell the history of this movement, which spread throughout Europe, represented by painters such as Georges Seurat, Paul Signac, Camille Pissarro, Gaetano Previati, Angelo Morbelli, Carlo Fornara, Giovanni Segantini, Théo Van Rysselberghe, Giovanni Giacometti and Cuno Amiet, among others.

Their second show, however, was devoted to surrealism and primitive art, visual exchanges between Western and non-Western artists, body painting and the surprising alignment between the Greco-Roman and the African worlds.

Art, multidisciplinary activities, exhibitions, dialogue and exchange, all in an incomparable natural setting; a cultural respite in an area famous for skiing, golf, casinos and the Caprices Music Festival.  ■

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