MAMAC, a very NICE modern art museum

New York has MoMA and Nice has MAMAC, Musée d’art moderne et d’art contemporain. Although it’s just plain azure at the moment, the facade often features brilliant light installations turning the entire entrance into a work of art.


The entrance to MAMAC is both modern and contemporary.

The French artist Niki de Saint Phalle spent quite a bit of time in Nice and donated nearly 200 of her distinctive pieces to MAMAC.


Niki de Saint Phalle’s Loch Ness Monster guards the entrance to MAMAC. He looks more playful than scary.


Loch Ness monster from above. When first installed, people thought he was a playground structure. Lots of “ouches” on the sharp mirrors. Scary after all.

We were already familiar with Niki de Saint Phalle’s work. Her Firebird (L’Oiseau de Feu sur l’Arche) is a giant mirrored piece that has been in front of the Bechtler Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina since 2009. About 60 pieces of her enchantingly colorful art were exhibited there several years ago.


I’m 5’10” so you can get a sense of the size of the Firebird statue. It’s 17 feet tall and was created in 1991.

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A bit of artistic recycling. MAMAC displays The Sun, a painting she created in 1998.

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Positive and Negative Dragons, 1988. Signs of the artist’s inner torment?

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Squint a bit and her Scorpion and Stag looks a bit like van Gogh’s Starry Night, don’t you think?

The museum has lots of other art as well. Some of it, we just had to ask, “This is art?”


The ultimate recycling project, Vestito Blu, a blue dress and train made from plastic bottles by Enrica Borghi.

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Close-up detail shows the tremendous amount of planning and care that went into the project. Have you ever tried to hold more than three empty plastic bottles at the same time? Impossible.

Interestingly, this use of plastic in artworks has led to a whole new field of POPART: the Preservation Of Plastic Artefacts in museum collections. How long will this art last? How do you keep it clean?

How do you keep this one clean? It’s a Poubelle (trash bin) by Arman. (Click on the image to enlarge. You might have the makings of your own piece of artwork in your kitchen trash right now: Coke, Pepperidge Farm, Marlboro…)

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This one was created in 1969. It seems to be holding up quite nicely, not your normal trash bin decomposition.

Some of Arman’s other pieces are intentional decomposition, a little less yucky. We saw the guitars cut apart at the Picasso museum in Antibes. Here he has cut brass instruments in half.

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Arman, untitled, 1983

Finally, the museum has numerous paintings and sculptures in blue by Yves Klein. In this piece, he slathered paint on nude women and supervised their movement across the canvas to create a work of New Realism.

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Klein’s instructions to his subjects sound like Twister. Put your left arm there and your right breast here… “Et voila!”

It was good to have a day of culture, whether we understood it all or not!




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