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Fontevraud Modern Art Museum

One of the cultural treasures of the Pays de la Loire Region

The official announcement was made on 1 September 2017. Thanks to the donation of part of Martine and Léon Cligman’s personal collection, the Region announced the opening of a museum of modern art at the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud, which belongs to the State and is protected as a historical monument.

The donation and the museum are making a tremendous contribution to the heritage and cultural dimension of Fontevraud. The oldest heritage site for culture, Fontevraud was awarded the CCR (Heritage Site for Culture) label in 1976. It is supported by the Ministry of Culture, and is a key landmark known throughout the Pays de la Loire and far beyond.

A donation of nearly 900 works to the State and the Region

On 23 July 2018, the State received a donation of 561 works from Martine and Léon Cligman for the Pays de la Loire Region. A second donation of around 300 works to the Region followed in 2019. This collection constitutes the core of the Modern Art Museum at Fontevraud.

Martine et Léon Cligman, a couple who were passionate about art…

For more than sixty years, Martine and Léon Cligman collected paintings, drawings and sculptures by 19th and 20th century artists, as well as antiques and artefacts from outside Europe (Africa, Oceania, Asia and the Americas). Through this juxtaposition of forms and practices from different civilisations, the collection is both original and truly first class.

HUmanistic art collectors

Martine Lévy was herself the daughter of collectors. Brought up among paintings by Maurice de Vlaminck, Raoul Dufy and Chaïm Soutine, sculptures by Auguste Rodin and drawings by Degas, Martine could not but embark on a path of creating art and wanting to collect it from a very young age.

When she met Léon Cligman at the end of the war, this young man, who was a brilliant student at the Ecole Supérieure de Commerce (a French business school) business school and a member of the Resistance at the age of twenty, started a career in the textile industry, which he would pursue with great success in companies he created or acquired. Newman, Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, Christian Lacroix and Lacoste were some of his standout brands. His factories, which were often ultra-modern, were located within an area that he liked to say had the Abbey of Fontevraud at its epicentre (Issoudun, Tours, Angers and Cholet).

a shared perspective

Léon and Martine Cligman got married in 1954 and decided to follow the family tradition and start collecting works that would form the backdrop of their everyday living environment throughout their lives. Drawn to expressions of classic modernity, they collected pieces from figurative styles of art from the inter-war period, as well as artists from Eastern Europe who contributed to the vibrancy of the École de Paris (School of Paris) from the beginning of the 20th century.

Echoing this, works from all origins, as long as if they stood out because of their expression, their synthesis of forms, or the solidity of their structure, were acquired on impulse during trips, or on the Paris art market, in galleries or at public auctions.

They followed one principle: never purchasing artworks without agreeing with each other first. Hence, every work had to reflect their shared perspective.

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L’entrée à l’Abbaye royale et au musée d’Art moderne est gratuite pour les moins de 18 ans et les étudiants de moins de 25 ans.