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Mauro Restiffe Santo Sospir

Text by Célia Bernasconi
Designed by Studio Temp

24 x 29 cm. 128 pages. Softcover
ISBN 978-88-945353-6-5

In the Villa Santo Sospir, Jean Cocteau conceived his intervention through accumulation. Inspired by Greek mythology and the Mediterranean landscape, this late pictorial work, resolutely anti-modern, has long been ignored or vilified by historians. In his photographs taken at Santo Sospir, Brazilian artist Mauro Restiffe explores how every side of the site is imbued with life, all the more so in the unobserved details and even when no one is framed.

The Villa Santo Sospir in Saint-Jean Cap-Ferrat is in no way a Gesamtkunstwerk, and stands out in particular from the now-mythical realizations by Eileen Gray and Le Corbusier at Cap-Martin, just a stone’s throw away. Far from a manifesto, Cocteau invests a pre-existing and rather unremarkable architecture, then conceives his intervention in the villa through a process of accumulation, mixing souvenirs and objects belonging to Francine Weisweiller or himself with the furniture of their friend Madeleine Castaing. Inspired by Greek mythology and the Mediterranean landscapes that surrounded the Villa, this late pictorial work, resolutely anti-modern, has long been ignored or vilified by historians.

While Cocteau’s entire literary, theatrical and cinematographic work deals with the representation of self, it always takes place in a particular setting. The interiors imagined by Cocteau provide accurate portraits of their occupants. In the 1950s, Jean Cocteau split his time between Paris, Milly la Forêt, and Saint-Jean Cap-Ferrat. It is at Santo Sospir that most of his TV interviews were made. It is above all the only house he filmed in his last two cinematographic opuses: La Villa Santo Sospir (filmée et commentée par Jean Cocteau) and Le Testament d’Orphée (Ne me demandez pas pourquoi). Santo Sospir can thus be viewed from the angle of a movie set, which allows him to introduce the world to the other Jean Cocteau—the Mediterranean poet, the craftsman.

Architecture, and Modernism in particular, has always been a source of inspiration for Brazilian photographer Mauro Restiffe. In his photographs, Restiffe has been exploring how every side of the built environment is imbued with life, all the more so in the unobserved details and even when no one is framed. In 2018, at the beginning of a multi-year restoration, he was invited to reside at the villa.

The Author

Célia Bernasconi is the Chief Curator of the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco (New National Museum of Monaco). Prior, she was curator at the Musée Jean Cocteau, Menton, France.

The Artist

Mauro Restiffe (Brazilian, 1970) lives and works in São Paulo. Recent solo shows include: “History as Landscape,” Ogr (Turin, 2019); “Álbum,” Estação Pinacoteca (São Paulo, 2017); “Post-Soviet Russia 1995/2015,” Garage Museum (Moscow, 2016). Restiffe participated in major group show such as the Gwangju Biennial (2018), the Aichi Triennial (Nagoya, Japan, 2016), and the São Paulo Biennial (2006). His work is part is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art (New York), SFMOMA (San Francisco), Tate Modern (London), MASP (São Paulo), among others.