The Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent in Paris shares the richness of the Amazigh civilization and honours Berber women in their new exhibition Berber Women of Morocco. From 21 March to 20 July 2014, the exhibition displays the diverse and extraordinary beauty of Berber adornments. It presents the most beautiful objects—carpets, cloaks, woven belts, amber and coral necklaces, silver brooches—predominantly from the collection of the Berber Museum in the Jardin Majorelle Garden in Marrakesh, from the collection of the Musée du quai Branly museum, and from private collections.
Berber history spans thousands of years across much of North Africa. This exhibit focuses specifically on Berber women from the Rif Mountains in Morocco’s north to the Sahara in the kingdom’s south and examines how their mastery of traditional arts such as weaving, jewellery, and basket making has helped sustain an ancient culture that is uniquely African and Mediterranean. The exhibit includes kaleidoscopic Beldi carpets, wedding blankets, and haik wraps; silver headdresses and necklaces and cuffs made of amber, coral, glass, and shell; and a series of kohl eyeliner pots and tagines, as well as archival photographs and ethnographic films of traditional Berber women. Items in the main salon are niched in terra-cotta-orange displays. Overhead, a black ceiling inset with small round lights glitters like a starry night high up in the Atlas Mountains.
The passion of Yves Saint Laurent
The Berber Museum, situated at the heart of the Majorelle Garden, beloved property of the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent, houses a collection of Berber art. The Foundation’s current exhibition, Berber Women of Morocco , seeks to recreate the spirit and aesthetic of the Berber Museum in Marrakesh in Paris. Almost immediately upon arrival in Morocco in 1966 Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé began to collect Berber art driven by their love for Morocco. The marvellous collection they brought together accompanied them to their successive dwellings : first to Dar el-Hanch, the house in the medina of Marrakesh which they purchased during their first trip, then in 1974 to Dar Es Saada, the villa next to the famous Majorelle Garden, founded by painter Jacques Majorelle, and finally to the Majorelle Garden itself in 1980, where the couple undertook the restoration of both the Garden and the artist’s studio nestled in its heart. In 1974, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé discovered the garden, fallen into sad disrepair. They purchased it in 1980 and by the mid-1980s, with the assistance of American architect Bill Willis, they began planning a museum dedicated to Moroccan Islamic art and civilisation.
After Yves Saint Laurent’s death on June 1, 2008, visitors came to see the Majorelle Garden in increasing numbers. Pierre Bergé undertook the renovation of the Garden and entrusted to architect and set designer Christophe Martin the construction of a museum dedicated to the Moroccan civilisation and culture which he and Yves Saint Laurent so loved and to which Jacques Majorelle paid hommage in his paintings. The Berber Museum was thus born and opened its doors in 2011 in Majorelle’s former studio.
The astounding scope of Berber art, long dismissed as “rural” by Moroccan national museums, has at last been fittingly honored in an intimate space. Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé’s original collection of art has been enriched by more than six hundred objects which testify to a thriving Berber culture, from the Rif to the Sahara.
The exhibition is to travel next year to Manama, Bahrain, and Rabat, Morocco.
Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent
3 rue Léonce Reynaud, 75116 Paris
+33 (0)1 44 31 64 31+33 (0)1 44 31 64 31
Open every day except Mondays from 11 am to 6 pm (last entry at 5.30 pm)
Closed on May 1, May 8 and July 14
Exhibition accessible to people with disabilities
Full price: € 7
Reduced price: € 5 for students, people under 25 and seniors upon presentation of a valid card F
Free for ICOM-ICOMOS card holders, children under 10 and job-seekers upon presentation of a valid card less than 1 year old
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