Arles: Abbey in “Sunset at Montmajour” by Vincent van Gogh is “My Montmajour Island” Curated by Christian Lacroix until Nov. 3


Costumes Designed by Christian Lacroix for the Women’s Choir in “Aida” by Verdi, Cologne Opera, 2010


On July 4, 1888 from a perch in Arles, Vincent van Gogh laid brush to canvas to depict the verdant forested landscape under a cloud-roiled sky around Montmajour.

The painting “Sunset at Montmajour” – long been considered a fake until authenticated two weeks ago by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam – derives its title from the Montmajour Abbey, whose despoiled tower juts up in the painting’s background.

From Montmajour, its name derives from “Mon Majoris” (the highest hill), stretched out plains and rugged terrain, a view which mesmerized van Gogh, who ventured at least 50 times to the hilltop. Today, the flattened fields surrounding the Abbey are cultivated for rice.


View from the Montmajour Abbey; Beyond the fields the city of Arles

As part of Marseille-Provence 2013, the Center for National Monuments designated the fashion designer Christian Lacroix, a native Arlesian and generous patron of the arts in the region, to adorn the austere spaces of the Abbey with his magical imagination in an exhibition “My Montmajour Island” (Mon île de Montmajour) – alluding to the time when Montmajour was an island, protected by marshes and accessible only by boat.


Le Petit Ange rouge de Marseille by James Lee Byars in the Church

Art works fashioned from glass, which Christian Lacroix selected from the collection of CIRVA (International Centre for Research on Glass and Arts) predominate, along with clothing and religious objects.


Planetarium by Jana Sterbak in the Tower



Le Cortege endormi by Jean-Michel Othoniel




Marriage Dress created by Christian Lacroix for the Philomena de Tornos, Duchesse de Vendôme, 2009

This exhilarating exhibit runs until November 3.



“Mon île de Montmajour”: Hours: Unti Nov. 3, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day except Monday; Admission 7.5€, Reductions at 4.5€, under 18 free.

Address: Route De Fontvieille, Arles; Web info. On Highway D17 between Fontvieille and Arles, 3 miles north of Arles.

NYT: Article on van Gogh painting  here

Photo: “Tempus Fugit” by Javier Perez. Six glass bells with resin arms installed in the small 12th Century chapel “Saint Croix” outside the grounds.

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