Jean Cocteau’s great passion for Mediterranean culture takes center stage at a remarkable temporary exhibit in Menton

Among the countless exhibitions on the French Riviera, those in Menton invariably count among the most prestigious ones, and the Musée Jean Cocteau collection Séverin Wunderman really knows how to outdo even those. Seamlessy fitting into the overarching “Démarche d’un poète” show, the current “Toro, Gitan, Flamenco” display recalls the great artist’s fascination with the Iberian theme.

Bulls hold a mythical place in the Mediterranean lifestyle. When Pablo Picasso introduced his friend Jean Cocteau to the tradition of bullfighting in the arenas of Nîmes and Arles, he sparked a lifelong passion. This, along with subsequent travels to Barcelona, Grenada and Seville inspired Cocteau’s works La Corrida du 1er Mai and Cérémonial espagnol du Phénix. For him, the Mediterranean is not just a spot on the map chopped up by national borders but a cohesive entity united by an ancient culture that traces its origins back to Greek mythology and tragedies.

Jean Cocteau expo Menton

With the corrida come gypsies,and with gypsies comes flamenco. For Cocteau, their vibrant and colourful universe, packed with rhythm, exuberance, and sensuality, is just as intrinsically part of the Mediterranean feeling as toromachy. And this is the angle the exhibit takes. Sixty-some drawings, lithographs, photographs, ceramics, illustrated books, and textiles pay homage to the town’s prolific son Cocteau and his passion. The artist loved collaborating with his friends – among them Lucien Clergue, Raymond Moretti and Jean-Marie Magnan, who shared his love of the arts and their passion for the Mediterranean lifestyle. Some of their joint works can also be seen here.

The exhibit runs through May 7. As a gentle reminder, the museum also hosts musical matinées on every first Sunday of a month followed by a brunch. The next one is scheduled for May 7, this particular display’s closing day. Tickets are €8 for the full exhibit including Démarche d’un Poète, and between €2.50 and €5 for the temporary exhibit only. Admission fee does not include brunch on May 7.

Musée Jean Cocteau Collection Séverin Wunderman
2, quai de Monléon
06500 Menton

Tel: +33 (0)4 89 81 52 50

Open daily 10am to 6pm except Tuesdays and on May 1

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All images courtesy Musée Jean Cocteau Collection Séverin Wunderman except lead image by Paolo Schubert (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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