Salvatore Emblema, who died in 2006, was an Italian artist who worked with organic matter: jute fibres, volcanic soil or pigment on leaves. His earthworks and paintings combine an existential relation to nature with architectural precision and raw, teeming colour. Emblema’s hometown of Terzigno lies northeast of Naples, on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius. There, the Museo Emblema is an excellent small museum dedicated to Emblema’s life and work. It is carefully maintained by the artist’s family in a villa designed and built by the artist using stone from the region. Emblema worked meticulously with hard materials – whether volcanic rock or jute fibre – to let light through. Transparency and translucency become material concerns. Outdoors especially, you see how his works – a small pavilion-like structure, a net-like sculpture – let images seep through other images: umbrella pines, the texture of leaves on a wall, or the looming, live majesty of Vesuvius.
- Pablo Larios
Chichu Art Museum, Naoshima, 2004. Courtesy and photograph: Mitsumasa Fujitsuka from Tadao Ando Endeavors (Flammarion, 2019)
Situated in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea is Naoshima, an ‘art island’ with a collection of museums designed by Tadao Ando for the Benesse Foundation and unconventional onsen (hot baths) designed by Shinro Ohtake. You can stay in a hotel that’s part of one of the museums and wander the collections at night or, for a cheaper option, in yurts on the beach. Shioya Diner in town is a tiny rock-and-roll themed cafe that, incongruously, serves delicious hot dogs, burgers and fries.
40 minutes outside of Nice is Fondation Maeght, a sculpture park in Provence with a preponderance of Miró, as well as other European modernists. Dotted along the Riviera coastline are further 20th century masterpieces, such as Matisse’s beautiful, lemon sunlight-bathed Chapelle du Rosaire in Vence and Cocteau’s Chapelle de Saint-Pierre des Pecheurs in Villefranche-sur-Mer. Lunch on the terrace of the legendary La Colombe d’Or hotel and restaurant – which, in its time, entertained Matisse, Picasso and James Baldwin (whose final residence is on the outskirts of town) – is a must.
- Amy Sherlock
Exterior view of Villa E-1027, 2015. Courtesy: Manuel Bougot
E-1027 is a storied modernist villa designed by the Irish architect Eileen Gray for herself and her lover, Jean Badovici, between 1926–29. The building has a fascinating history involving heartbreak, jealousy, a washed-up corpse, an old lady and a Swiss doctor, and a murderous gardener. Re-opened in 2015 after decades of bureaucratic wrangling, the villa overlooks the fancy restaurants and hotels of Monte Carlo. A better option is to buy a beer and a pan bagnat (Nicoise sandwich) from Le Kiosk and sit on the sea wall looking out to Menton (home to the Jean Cocteau Museum) and, beyond that, Italy.
In the mid-1960s, the architect César Manrique used the volcanic geology and vernacular traditions of his birthplace of Lanzarote to create an amazing series of gardens, social and living spaces in the caves formed by ancient lava flows. The most famous of these is Jameos del Agua, a club complex with a restaurant/bar, concert space and strikingly blue swimming pool – although you can’t actually swim there (that is a privilege supposedly reserved solely for the king of Spain).
- Amy Sherlock
Dalí Theatre and Museum, Catalonia. Courtesy: pxhere.com
Three Dalí museums in Catalonia are well worth a visit. All are managed by the Dalí Foundation and were established by the artist before his death. They provide a varied and intimate view of Dalí’s life and work, from the Theatre-Museum in Figueres, which contains many of his most important pieces, to the seaside house in Port Lligat, close to Cadaqués, and the castle in Púbol, which Gala preferred in her older years, when she was tired of the guests and parties at Port Lligat, and where she is buried. Each museum is in a different city, but all are within driving distance of each other. Good options for accommodation are found around the beach at Cadaqués.
These are not, necessarily, the things you expect to see on a hot day, walking through a village on a Greek island: a tangled, bright-orange fluorescent sculpture hanging behind the butcher’s counter; a small painting of a kneeling figure above the dog leashes in a pet shop; a couple of mysterious paintings in the changing room of a dress shop. Keep walking and you will find paintings, sculptures and photographs in 16 shops, bakeries and bars around Hydra Town. The show-cum-treasure trail is a celebration of the 20th anniversary of Hydra School Projects, the brainchild of artist and curator, Dimitrios Antonitsis, whose work is also in the show. It runs until 15 September in the main village of this car-free jewel of an island a couple of hours by boat from Athens. One of the nicest places to stay is the historic Hydroussa Hotel, or if you’re feeling swanky, The Bratsera. For food, you can’t beat Douskos Taverna, which is unchanged since Leonard Cohen sang under the tree in its courtyard. After dinner, everyone heads to the Pirate Bar.
- Jennifer Higgie
Erwin Heerich’s Turm, Museum Insel Hombroich. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
The Rhineland is known for its lively art scene, but the most exciting art venue is Museum Island Hombroich, found just half an hour outside of Düsseldorf. Composed of ten brick pavilions by artist Erwin Heerich and inspired by French impressionist Paul Cézanne, the 21-hectare sculpture park creates a unique visitor experience finely balanced between an appreciation of art and nature. The collection contains masterpieces by artists such as Yves Klein, Gustav Klimt, Henri Matisse and Alberto Giacometti, however the museum does not emphasize the fame of the individual artist by abstaining any labels. If you want to take a break, you can enjoy the delicious pay-as-you-feel buffet in the museum café. Elsewhere on Hombroich is the Langen Foundation, a Tadao Ando-designed museum with a Japanese focus situated on a former NATO racket station. Between the two museums, you will come across the Thomas Schütte Foundation, which is dedicated to contemporary art production on two levels: an exhibition space for sculpture and a storage space for the artist and his foundation.
Outside a sleepy village about 15 minutes from the UNESCO heritage site of Hildesheim and under an hour from the Documenta city of Kassel, Schloss Derneburg is a palimpsest of a thousand years, replete with cloister, fairy tale turrets, and a gothic revival knights hall. In 1974, it became the home of artist Georg Baselitz. The view the artist would take in between painting sessions in his studio is preserved, as are his sketches on the walls of the castle’s former kitchens, where he would sculpt.
Since 2017, Derneburg has been the lead site of the Hall Art Foundation, helmed by the admired Anglo-American collectors Andy and Christine Hall. Its emphasis is on revolving exhibitions, with solo surveys to date including Isa Genzken, Antony Gormley, Candida Höfer, Hermann Nitsch and Julian Schnabel, usually drawing on the founders’s formidable personal collection.
Derneburg’s model is contemplative and un-showy, with an emphasis on deep engagement and slow, informed looking. In this respect, its relative isolation is a boon. On my visit, I remember being momentarily distracted from a rich display of Bethan Huws works by a chiming sound: it turned out not to be a mobile phone, but the sound of church bells, drifting in from the next village.
Cuernavaca is the historical hotbed of the counterculture in Mexico. This lush, hilly town, capital of the Mexican state of Morelos, became a vacation destination for wealthy residents of Mexico City in the early 20th century; then a retreat for artists such as David Alfaro Siqueiros and Diego Rivera, whose murals still grace the halls of the Palacio de Cortés. Erich Fromm founded the Mexican Society of Psychoanalysis here in 1956, and Timothy Leary first tried magic mushrooms there in the summer of 1960.
- Evan Moffitt
Banff Centre and Surrounding Area, 2011. Courtesy: David Wiley
This tiny mountain town in the state of Alberta, Canada, two hours drive from Calgary, was originally founded as an Alpine ski resort on the Trans-Canadian Railway. Its grand Gothic hotel, the Fairmont – where Marilyn Monroe once recovered from a broken leg – still houses ski bunnies every winter; but the city is now best known for the Banff Centre, one of the largest arts complexes in the world. With a year-round programme of artist and writer residencies, full fabrication labs and even film studios onsite, it’s a hotbed of creativity at the base of some of North America’s best hiking trails.
Though brutally hot in the summer, there’s no shortage of art in the high desert around Joshua Tree National Park, including Andrea Zittel’s A-Z West and High Desert Test Sites; the Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Art Museum; and the Integratron, a ‘spaceship’ that gives visitors crystal sound baths (book in advance). Stop for a drink at Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown, a saloon town movie set plunked in the middle of rocky scrubland.
- Evan Moffitt
Ansel Adams, Church, Taos Pueblo National Historic Landmark, New Mexico, 1942. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Taos Art Colony Taos, New Mexico, USA
This tiny, picturesque town in the high desert has had an art scene for over 1,000 years, dating back to its time as a thriving Pueblo village. In 1899, artists from the East Coast of the US began to settle there, forming the Taos Art Colony. It was famously home to Georgia O’Keeffe, Agnes Martin and Ken Price; Bruce Nauman and Susan Rothenberg still live a short drive away.
- Evan Moffitt
Main image: Benesse House, Naoshima, 2015. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons