The Séverin Wunderman Collection works within its context, showcasing Menton’s turn-of-the-century seafront architecture, and holds true to its motto, “My Town is a Garden.”
Located opposite La Maison Trenca, a Menton landmark, the museum does not obstruct the seafront vista, but offers a unique reference point to the original and elegant architecture that made Menton’s reputation; a combination of stylistic features reminiscent of the golden age around 1900.
The building is in keeping with Menton’s urban fabric and character helping to return the Quai Monléon to pedestrian use, restoring the virtues of Menton as a seaside resort.
The area between the building and the covered market, a remarkable nineteenth-century edifice, is kept free of all construction from the vantage point of the pedestrian, by an archways and a garden. The roof ends in kind of deformed fingers waving, giving the building an ethereal feeling. The architect Rudy Riccotti talks about the design as a written text to the sea – facing the sea spray.
The choice of architectural materials for this project, and especially its black-and‐white aesthetic, was unavoidable. The realm of dreams and mystery, the starkness of contrasts and the interweaving of shadows ultimately reflect the contradictions in Cocteau’s life and work.
Black and white no longer serve as colors here. Rather, they create an interplay of structural forces calling to mind both the artist’s works on paper and the poet’s personality, his zones of light and darkness, his enigmatic self-mythology fueled by contrasts.
The building houses the museum and its permanent collections, space for temporary exhibitions, an educational workshop for school, a library, a graphic design studio to see the drawings and unexposed prints, and a cafe where one can relax and discuss poetry and literature.