Jean Cocteau Museum, Menton, France
This museum dedicated to Jean Cocteau is less a building and more a fragment from the quayside and the geographical coastline that has been inserted into an imaginary, fortified line. It is a museum that has been carved out of the stone of the land, facing the water and set at the edge of the sea. It is part of an idealization of the ancient Mediterranean landscape, yet it is built in a refined, modern style.
A hanging garden and gold-coloured open-air pavilion lie at the heart of this museum built of stone. A door leads into the museum’s treasure chamber, containing drawings, objects, testimonies, films made at Menton after the war and images from the period’s archives. In a space between darkness and light, the tragic history of Jean Cocteau is evoked for visitors.
However, this is also in part the history of Menton itself and the history of the period as a whole. After their visit, visitors to the museum are taken via a grand flight of steps towards what seems to be a hanging garden. There, they discover an open belvedere looking out towards the blue of the horizon in a perspective made up of stony ground, the shadows of trees, the bay and the mountains. This pure landscape is the same as that which first attracted Cocteau to Menton forty years ago.