Peyrassol is renowned not only for producing one of the best rosés in Provence, but also for the sculptures that stand proudly in the vineyard. Philippe Austruy’s private museum. By Éric Jansen
A 1000-hectare vineyard estate by the Massif des Maures foothills in the Var department, not far from le Muy well known to art lovers and where artist Bernar Venet and gallery owner Jean-Gabriel Mitterrand created remarkable sites dedicated to sculpture. Was it during a visit to his neighbours that Philippe Austruy decided to install works of art in his vineyard? “No, my passion for art goes back a long way and I was here before them.” It was in 2001 that the captain of industry in the health sector treated himself to the Commanderie de Peyrassol, founded in the 13th century by the Order of the Knights Templar. Not only the buildings were magnificent but, above all, wine has been produced since he construction. Philippe Austruy fell in love at first sight, and the adventure began. He not only undertook restoration of this historic site, but also worked on the vineyard and winery to further develop its quality. Some twenty years later, the domaine is known across the globe.
La grille du domaine réalisée par Wim Delvoye
Une oeuvre de Gavin Turk au milieu des vignes
When he started setting up some sculptures which he had acquired, the estate took on a new dimension. The businessman is a long-time art lover. In Paris, in the evenings he met up with César, Bertrand Lavier and Bernar Venet at the Stresa, and above all shared his life with gallery owner Valérie Bach. The first works bought from friends were rapidly joined by others from further afield. The entrance gate to Peyrassol was designed by Wim Delvoye. A door signed Gavin Turk stands between two rows of vines. Others in the collection include Dan Graham, Barry Flanagan, Lee Ufan and Ugo Rondinone... Over the years, Philippe Austruy entered a circle of collectors in tune with the market. “It was a logical evolution. But I try to be more selective, for I can’t accumulate endlessly and I want to privilege a direct relationship with the artist. Half of the pieces have been made especially for the collection.”
Joana Vasconcelos fait aussi partie des artistes collectionnés
En 2017, Buren réalisait cette oeuvre spécialement pour le lieu
In 2017, Buren made the trip to install a work between two buildings, and this year a fountain by Bertrand Lavier shall be inaugurated. Philippe Austruy fell in love with the work of Joana Vasconcelos, and suggested that she design a bottle for Peyrassol. “With Bernar Venet and Bertrand Lavier we have already imagined special vintages.” The estate now has some 80 sculptures and 12,000 visitors come each year to discover them. In 2016, an area was created to accommodate fragile works (Frank Stella, Niki de Saint Phalle, Jean Tinguely, Xavier Veilhan, Anthony Gormley) as well as temporary exhibitions. This is to be enlarged. “We are going to present Cuban painters from the Continua gallery this summer.” A restaurant with a star chef will also be inaugurated. Hopefully Joana Vasconcelos will by then have finished her bottle, in order to toast this unique place dedicated to art and wine.