“Santo Sospir Mauro Restiffe / Jean Cocteau”, an exhibition presented by the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco (NMNM) at Villa Sauber will welcome visitors until 15 October 2023.
Jean Cocteau was sixty years old the first time he entered Santo Sospir in 1950. The poet, cartoonist, novelist and playwright became a prolific director well known to the general public. On the set of the film Les Enfants Terribles, Cocteau met the young Francine Weisweiller, who invited him to take a break at her villa in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, a few hundred yards from Villefranche-sur-Mer, where he had lived for a long time in his youth. Cocteau fell in love with Santo Sospir and spent 12 years there, meeting Matisse and Picasso and producing countless pictorial works.
In 2018, photographer Mauro Restiffe (born in Brazil in1970) was also invited to stay at Santo Sospir, preserved intact since Cocteau’s departure and soon to be fully restored. Restiffe produced a series of photos inspired by his exploration of architecture, memory and intimacy. Created using only analog techniques, Restiffe’s prints reveal traces of a ghostly presence, a favourite theme of the poet, who passed away in 1963.
Presented here for the first time, the series Santo Sospir explores the poetic universe of Cocteau through the lens of photography. Inspired by the eminently transgressive dimension of a protean work, the exhibition proposes a dialogue between Restiffe’s images and a selection of drawings, paintings, tapestries and films by Cocteau, presented in chapters that examine fundamental themes in his work, including dreams, metamorphosis and the erotic.
The exhibition is curated by Célia Bernasconi, Chief Curator at the NMNM and accompanied by the book Mauro Restiffe, Santo Sospir, published in 2021 by Lenz Press and reissued by the NMNM in 2023.