One of our first stops to an Office de Tourisme in Brittany had a bunch of postcard sized cards that described various things to do in the region. I sort of went crazy pulling cards from the rack as I found so many points of interest. One of the cards that I pulled had a very contemporary feel and really caught my eye. This card was promoting the Fonds Helene & Edouard Leclerc - a contemporary art space.
We have been feeling like it is an exceedingly long time since we have seen any contemporary art. In fact, I am at a loss to name anything since our visit to the Tate in London last May. That is darn near a year ago. One of the things we have discovered on our travels is that access to contemporary art is key to our enjoyment of a place.
And so it was with great eagerness that on a nice day in late February we found ourselves heading to the Leclerc foundation in Landerneau, France.
I had done some research prior to setting out and learned their current exhibit was about Hans Hartung and Lyric Painters. What? I had no idea who he was or what this really meant, but I was in.
First, Landerneau is quite a charming town. We wove through in the car and quickly found the parking area for the gallery. Parking is free if you get your ticket validated with entry to the museum and your car can rest there for up to 3 hours. Perfection. We would browse the gallery and then grab some lunch.
We headed across the street to the blue gate that greeted us. Oh, it's the perfect blue that I have seen all over this part of France. I was already in love. The buildings are immaculately restored consisting of a main gallery structure and a chapel. The courtyard they created is very charming and I could see relaxing and having a picnic in here on a beautiful summer day.
We headed into the gallery space and started out on our viewing. We were instantly struck with the openness and airiness of this space. It felt expansive, but not overwhelming. It felt like great care and detail had been taken in determining the size, flow and lighting in each gallery space. Zac and I were both breathing in as if we had just discovered oxygen upon climbing from a cave. It was soul filling for us and we quickly became overstimulated.
The show itself was beautifully curated. The curator did a great job of telling the story of Hartung and others in the Lyrical movement. I still can't tell you what that movement was about, but it had an incredible effect on me. I stood staring at paintings for longer than I can remember. Zac and I discussed how we enjoyed the movement in this piece or the color variations in that piece. We were eager to show each other what we liked best about paintings we saw around the corner. We eagerly took each other back to our "favorites" and took close ups of the details we particularly loved.
There were people in the gallery space feeling the same way we did. There was a couple that took a long time telescoping forward and back to get the full measure of the paintings. When we were both in the museum shop later in the morning I saw them gleefully comparing the photos they took to those in the exhibition book. I loved this.
The Leclerc Foundation is just the right size. There was no eye fatigue or feeling as if you have consumed too much turkey at Thanksgiving dinner. I love museums but I always feel they are too big and beat you over the head with art instead of giving it space to spread out and really envelop you. I was completely enveloped by the Fonds Leclerc. Those paintings had plenty of room to breathe and play well with their neighboring painting.
Zac and I were both so stimulated by our experience that we spent longer in the gallery shop than we have done in recent past. He has an obsession with postcards and we found the perfect image for a friend of ours back in the states. I was so inspired that I purchased a set of colored pencils in a metal case that I can bring on our travels. They're likely not the best quality but they are compact, in a lovely metal tin and, most importantly, I was inspired to buy them.
We loved everything about our experience at the Leclerc Foundation. The people we nice and helpful, the space was beautiful and welcoming and quite frankly, they have the nicest bathrooms I had been in for a long time. I would not hesitate to go back and see what they get up to next, they seem to have some amazing shows.
If you are in Brittany you would do well to spend a morning and early afternoon at the Fonds Helene & Edouard Leclerc, grab some lunch (or picnic in the parking lot or courtyard) and be ready to thoroughly enjoy yourself.