Villa Noailles  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Villa Noailles is an avant-garde villa turned cultural center located in Hyères, home of the Hyères Fashion and Photography Festival, Design Parade and other events. It belonged to the Noailles, famous art patrons. It was designed for them by Robert Mallet-Stevens between 1923 and 1933.


Charles de Noailles was born in 1891, and his wife Marie-Laure was born in 1902. They were married in 1923. Before their marriage, they became friends of artist-filmmaker Jean Cocteau, and Noailles commissioned a portrait of his wife by Pablo Picasso in 1923.

In 1923, they signed a contract with the architect Robert Mallet-Stevens to build a summer villa in the hills above the city of Hyères. Construction was underway for three years, and eventually also included a triangular Cubist garden designed by Gabriel Guevrekian.

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, the couple were important patrons of modern art, particularly surrealism; they supported film projects by Man Ray, Salvador Dalí, and Luis Buñuel; and commissioned paintings, photographs and sculptures by Balthus, Giacometti, Constantin Brâncuşi, Miró, and Dora Maar. Villa Noailles features prominently in Man Ray's film Les Mystères du Château de Dé.

In 1940 the villa was occupied by the Italian Army and turned into a hospital. From 1947 until 1970, the villa was the summer residence of Marie-Laure. She died in 1970, and the house was purchased by the city of Hyères in 1973. Charles de Noailles died in 1981.

The villa is now used as an arts center and for special exhibits.

James Lord was a guest there in the mid-fifties. In his book Picasso and Dora: a memoir he writes: " undistinguished cubist extravaganza of reinforced concrete set atop a high hill, within the ancient walls of a Saracen fortress. It had been designed in the late twenties by a fashionable architect named Mallet-Stevens, contained something like fifty rooms and was surrounded by a large garden." He recalls the room, where Marie-Laure tried to seduce him: "...a large salon at Saint-Bernard which had no windows but was lighted from above by a bizarre cubist skylight which occupied almost all the ceiling, adding to the sense of existing outside time in a stranded ocean liner." The beauty of the location did not help, however, the "redoutable viscountess" in conquering his chastity.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Villa Noailles" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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