France: La Maison Sculptée
We are in a quiet village, where an incredible work of outsider art, appears like a hidden treasure trove of paintings, sculptures, and carvings that seem to bring the architecture to life.
In 1968, Jacques Lucas and his wife Marie-France bought a row of abandoned houses that had been in ruins for decades. They were located about thirty kilometers east of Rennes in the northwest of France. So, they worked for over a year to make their new property habitable. Lucas met a painter and sculptor named Robert Tatin, and their encounter signed the start of La Maison Sculptée. Having made the acquaintance of the artist, who he visited several times a year in his home in la Frénouse, Lucas was inspired to begin sculpting, and began also to paint on the walls of the buildings as well as to install his early sculptures, some of which measure seven meters in height, around the house.
Lucas began putting up his own sculptures near the houses and covering their facades with really nice paint. He even began interlacing his plastic works with trees, vines, moss, and other plants that he found locally, developing a living work of art. The structures, which also included media such as ceramics and glass, measured roughly 2000 square meters in size. He spent over a decade slowly adding more sculptures across the space. Most of the artwork was realized in the mid-1980s. Around 1987, Lucas left the site temporarily, moving to a painting studio in Nice, even if he would return to Bretagne two or three times annually. By the end of the 1990s, having fallen behind on his taxes, and the site was in danger of being sold. However, in 2000 a group of friends formed an association in order to save the site, classifying it as artwork and thus worthy of protection under a French law passed in 1957.
And now, decades later, La Maison Sculptée is still standing strong, and colorful, carved sculptures fill the property. Walking beneath these elaborate archways reveals a wealth of gardens scattered about the place. Winding paths meander around small basins, waterways, and ponds that match perfectly with the artwork’s blue hues.