L'Internationale des Visionnaires

From 29 April to 05 November 2017



Vernissage on Saturday 29 April 2017


Season 2017

Curator: Jean-Hubert Martin


For its third season, the Coopérative-Collection Cérès Franco gives carte blanche to Jean-Hubert Martin, who selected about 280 pieces from the collection, in addition to several others from the Daniel Cordier collection, for the exhibition L’Internationale des Visionnaires. Martin invites us to a playful exploration through an itinerary that favours a spontaneous approach to the artworks.

A mischievous nod at revolutionary songs, the title of the exhibition evokes the cosmopolitan and eclectic nature of the collection put together by Cérès Franco. When this Brazilian collector opened her gallery L’Œil de Bœuf in Paris in 1972, the Cold War was bringing to the French capital a stream of artists, chased from communist regimes in Europe, Asia and Latin America and who found in Paris a safe haven of expression. “The gallery L’Œil de Bœuf was a melting pot of artists from all over the world, and Cérès Franco was its queen”, writes Martin. “Painters of every possible origin gathered around the fiercely energetic hostess of this haven of creative freedom to develop new and daring ideas about painting and the depiction of human nature and its pleasures, pains and violence”.

The importance of looking

Based on the idea that the act of looking is too often subordinated to historical knowledge, to the point of overlooking the works themselves, the exhibition favours free exploration and invites the visitors to solicit their own sense of observation and to ask themselves: “what are we looking at”? Following a strategy akin to a game of dominoes or to the structure of a counting rhyme, the set-up is organised as a series where each work is determined by the one that comes first and anticipates the one that comes next, in an interplay of thematic or formal affinities. The exhibition will be punctuated by a number of monographic ensembles (Chaïbia, Roman Cieslewicz, Manuel Mendive Hoyo,…).

Far from a traditional museum set-up, this focus on association, decompartmentalization and on an arrangement that does not follow a historical order is more akin to that of a private collection, where times and genres are readily juxtaposed as a reflection of a plural and evolving taste. No special knowledge about art history is needed here; by bringing together famous artists and unknown ones in no particular hierarchical order, the exhibition wants to be open to everyone and lays the emphasis on the works and on the viewers’ active involvement in the playful identification of differences and similarities.

Artworks and curiosities from the donation of gallery owner and collector Daniel Cordier, stored since 1999 at the Abattoirs de Toulouse, will accompany the exhibition. Paintings by Dado, Combas, Chaissac and Schröder Sonnenstern, along with Nedjar’s puppets, will act as a counterpoint to the pieces of the Cérès Franco collection. This loan will also enable interesting comparisons between two collections that are now firmly rooted in the territory.


In Montolieu, a close collaboration between the Musée des Arts et Métiers du Livre and the Cérès Franco collection has led in 2017 to the development of a joint project devoted to an artist who will be presented in both venues: Pierre Bettencourt (1917-2006). The Musée des Arts et Métiers du Livre will invite the public to discover the written and artistic production of this writer, typographer, publisher, traveller, painter and creator of unique and poetic worlds, between magic and dream. As a continuation of the exhibition, a rich programme of activities (events, talks, workshops with artists) has also been developed in order to raise awareness about different aspects of the collection. Some of our workshops and visits/talks are specially targeted at school and pre-school audiences from the Occitanie region. A booklet will be published on the occasion of the exhibition.

About the Coopérative – Collection Cérès Franco

The Coopérative – Collection Cérès Franco, the new art and cultural centre in Montolieu village du livre in the Department of Aude, is host to the Cérès Franco collection. It is the fruit of a public/private partnership signed in 2015 between the Association for the promotion of the Cérès Franco Collection, the owner of the former wine cooperative in Montolieu – an industrial building of about 1000 m2 – and the agglomeration of Carcassonne (Carcassonne Agglo), with the aim to provide a widely accessible cultural offer to the public and to school audiences.

About Cérès Franco

Born in Brazil, Cérès Franco studied Art History in the US, then moved to France in 1951 to work as an art critic and curator before opening her gallery L’Œil de Bœuf in Paris. Over a period of more than 50 years, Cérès Franco influenced the art scene and collected about 1500 artworks that now constitute one of the main collections of naïf art, popular art and New Figuration. At the beginning of the 1990s, Cérès Franco moved her collection to Lagrasse, in the department of Aude, where it attracted a public of connoisseurs for more than 20 years. With the aim to consolidate the position of the collection in the territory, in 2015 the collection was moved to Montolieu Village du livre, in a former wine cooperative converted into an art centre.

About Jean-Hubert Martin

Born in 1944, Jean-Hubert Martin is a trained art historian who worked, among other positions, as curator of the Centre Pompidou at the time of its creation. As the director of major museum institutions such as the Musée national d’art moderne Centre Pompidou, the Museum Kunst Palast in Düsseldorf and the Kunsthalle in Bern, Martin organised several reference exhibitions such as the pioneering “Magiciens de la terre”, which rethinks the relationships among the artworks. A keen follower of every kind of visual expression, he is passionate about enabling a dialogue between creations from different places and times.