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Les Abattoirs, Toulouse. An art cathedral in Occitanie once referred to as a slaughterhouse

Former slaughterhouse of the city the building exemplifies the industrial architecture of the 19th-century

Slaughterhouse of the city, Les Abattoirs Toulouse is a building that exemplifies the industrial architecture of the 19th century. Urbain Vitry was the architect of this building between 1825 and 1832. Vitry constructed the Toulouse’s Observatory and the old Medicine school of the city. He was known for his Italian style neoclassical architecture, which is characterized by the attention on sobriety, and use of the materials from the locality. His mark was used, as a motif, on white stone bricks. In the Ninety’s, the association which planned to create a space for contemporary art, started looking for a building that could fit their purpose. In 1995 the once referred to slaughterhouse was selected. Antoine Stinco and Remi Papillaut were chosen as the architects to transform the building into an art museum. They intended to leave the neoclassical mark form in order to restore a vision of the semicircular space, aiming to convert it into a cathedral for contemporary art. The renovation work started in 1997, as did the artistic installation by Sandrine Curti called La Maison Bleu. Black and white cows were painted against a blue background. As the renovation evolved, the installation did too and the cows turned red or yellow against the background. Approaching the end of the renovation, the cows started disappearing one by one revealing the Abattoirs. These artworks were a means to hide the building while it was being renovated. Pointing out the will of the museum in its construction to link the past and the future, displaying a museum open to visitors and to the citizens of Toulouse. The renovation ended in June 2000.

The complex is formed by three buildings. At the center of the compound lies the museum, with the bookshop, the facility and the exhibitions space. The museum has a display split in two sections. The collection featuring modern art is focused on artists up to the 1950’s. The collection is composed of donations by Anthony Demey and a deposit made by Georges Pompidou Centre, a portion of the donation arrived from the owner, Daniel Cordier. The Remains of Minotaur in a harlequin costume, has been created by Pablo Picasso and Luis Fernandez in 1936 for the pièce ‘Le 14 Juillet’ by Romain Rolland. Due to its fragility, this artwork is displayed for six months of a year, in a room designed for its dimensions. On the sides of the buildings, one can find the administration office, the multimedia library, the workshops site, and the visitors hall. Behind the museum, an area is dedicated to workshops. In this building, you can find the restaurant, l’Hèmycycle, named after its architectural shape. The temporary exhibitions take place in The Nef, the nave of the cathedral. This is the central part of the museum, characterized by the red of the bricks of which the compound is made. Here you can find the bookshop, with over 3,500 titles with a focus on contemporary art issues. There are children’s books and international magazines.  The museum’s events and performance programs are a meeting point of art in France. The exterior of the building holds the Sculpture Park, with sixteen artworks that extend the museum outside its rooms. Split into themes, the section provides a critical approach to the introduction of organic-matter through the image and its diffusion. There is a section on writing and narratives as collective.

Les abattoirs de Toulouse
Les abattoirs de Toulouse, 1937. Courtesy Bibliothèque de Toulouse.

France is the beginning of the Laure Prouvost journey of her installation ‘Deep See Blue Surrounding You/Vois Ce Bleu Profond Te Fondre’, but Venice is the arrival of this journey. An artistic milestone that made France choose to be represented by Laure Prouvost in the 58° Venice Biennale. In the pavilion within the Biennale’s Giardini, the artist takes us, to an underground entrance, in a space immersed in light, made by water. This installation could be seen as an environmental deplore, with the technology that invades the water and its citizens, a conjunction between reality and the installation. ‘Deep See Blue Surrounding You’ is a movie about the links and departures between generations and identities, interpreting disconnection, incomprehension and discrepancy. A journey through languages and surrealism towards an ideal elsewhere. The work is seen as a road trip, starting from the north of Paris‘ suburbia, through the Palais du Facteur Cheval. The journey goes on to Marseille, the city of the immigrants, where a dive in the Mediterranean Sea leads to Venice. Venice is the inspiration for the work as a city made above water, composed by facades of language and culture. The first stop of this tour is the Toulouse’s Les Abattoirs, where the work was displayed in January until May 2020.

IMAGE GALLERY

Les Abattoirs
76 Allées Charles de Fitte
Toulouse, France

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