With stunning views of the Mediterranean from a rocky cliff in the Cote D’Azur, it’s a cultural hub, in that it has been rented out for Christian Dior fashion shows, Cannes Film Festival parties, and private galas. But should it become a public museum? Perhaps.
Cristiano Raimondi, a Monte Carlo–based curator with Monaco’s Nouveau Musée National, says that the Palais Bulles is part of a long history of artist homes along the French Riviera. Henri Matisse made nearby Nice his home in the 1930s, while artist Jean Cocteau lived at the Villa Santo Sospir on Cap Ferrat for months (roughly a one-hour drive east of Palais Bulles), even hand-painting the walls.
Furniture designer and architect Eileen Gray’s white, minimal, modern villa built in 1929 is along the French Riviera, too (and was an obsession of Le Corbusier), and Pablo Picasso’s villa in Mougins still stands today, though privately owned. There’s the culture hub the Prince Pierre Foundation, founded by the Prince of Monaco, too. “We have a lot of villas with a lot of history down here in the coast, and artists are invited to do projects and make artwork that responds to the history and the place, which I think is good,” says Raimondi. “It’s a tradition that reveals how life has changed. If those places can be open to the public, all the better. My opinion is that Palais Bulles deserves to be open and visited. Even better if there is the possibility to do research, artist residencies, or site-specific projects, or have visits from architecture and design schools, for students, as it’s an important piece of architecture.”
The architect, Lovag, first designed the Palais Bulles as an experiment. He saw architecture as a “form of play—spontaneous, joyful, full of surprise,” and hated the straight line. He once called the straight line “an aggression against nature,” which was radical for its time.
Richard Zarzi, an artist who has lived in Cannes for 20 years, has hope for the next owner of Palais Bulles. “I would like the new owner to open it up to the public as a venue to be used for parties and the Cannes Film Festival,” said Zarzi. “The building is historic and an architectural beauty so worth showing off.
“Pierre Cardin was a great designer; his avant-garde style and spaces were legendary,” he adds. “He had a really long and beautiful life.”