The History of the Carrières de Lumières
The stone extracted in the south of France is generally named after the town where it is exploited (Les Baux stone, Fontevieille stone, etc.). Also known as the ‘stone of the south’, Les Baux stone is a slightly calcareous limestone, fine-grained, and usually white or blonde in colour. It results from the compaction of calcium carbonate on calcareous sand. Marine fossils have been found in the rock.
Fontvieille, the neighbouring village to Les Baux benefitted greatly from the growing demand for stone at this time, as its white stone was said to be of better quality than Les Baux stone. However, the number of quarries in operation in Les Baux at this time attest to the town’s increased production. One such quarry was Les Grands Fonds, known today as Les Carrières de Lumières.
Following the First World War, the demand for stone for construction purposes declined. New building materials such as steel and concrete emerged. More economical than stone, these new materials threatened the future of stone quarries. The quarry was eventually forced to close.
In the 1960s, the quarry found a new function thanks to the visionary genius of Jean Cocteau. Entranced by the beauty of the place and the surrounding environment, he decided to film The Testament of Orpheus on the site.
The site was further transformed through the creation of a new project inspired by the ideas of Joseph Svoboda, scenographers of the second half of the 20th century. This project was designed to enhance the space: it was decided that the huge rock walls of the quarry would form the backdrop for a sound and light show.
The town of Baux-de-Provence entrusted Culturespaces with the management of the quarry, as part of a public service concession agreement. Named ‘Les Carrières de Lumières’, Culturespaces have developed a unique and innovative concept for the site: AMIEX® (Art & Music Immersive Experience).
Les Carrières de Lumières opened in March with the exhibition "Gauguin, Van Gogh: Painters in Colour", a musical journey into the colourful world of these two artists, produced by Culturespaces and directed by Gianfranco Iannuzzi, Renato Gatto and Massimiliano Siccardi.
In 2013, Les Carrières de Lumières presented a new exhibition of immersive art "Monet, Renoir, Chagall .... Journeys around the Mediterranean". Produced by Culturespaces, realised by Gianfranco Iannuzzi, Renato Gatto and Massimiliano Siccardi and included as part of the Marseille-Provence 2013 cultural programme, this show invited spectators to explore the quarry at their own pace and to enjoy different works by 16 major artists around the theme of the Mediterranean.
In 2014, the exhibition of immersive art "Klimt and Vienna", produced by Culturespaces and realised by Gianfranco Iannuzzi, Renato Gatto and Massimiliano Siccardi presented an overview of 100 years of Viennese painting with a special focus on the brightly coloured works of Gustav Klimt, his contemporaries, and all those he inspired.
In 2015, Les Carrières de Lumières pursued their innovative and ambitious artistic project with the exhibition of immersive art "Michelangelo, Leonardo de Vinci, Raphael: The Giants of the Renaissance". Produced by Culturespaces, realised by Gianfranco Iannuzzi, Renato Gatto and Massimiliano Siccardi, this exhibition provided audiences with a unique opportunity to enjoy some of the greatest masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance from a new perspective.
In 2017, new exhibition of immerve art produced by Culturespaces and created by Gianfranco Iannuzzi, Renato Gatto, and Massimiliano Siccardi, with the musical collaboration of Luca Longobardi. This new creation invites to explore the unbridled imagination of the animated paintings of Bosch, Brueghel and Arcimboldo.
In 2018, digitised masterpieces by Picasso, Goya, and Sorolla will create a dialogue to the sound of music on the immense limestone surfaces of the Carrières. A veritable invitation to go on a journey of discovery, this original multimedia exhibition, produced by Culturespaces and created by Gianfranco Iannuzzi, Renato Gatto, Massimiliano Siccardi, with the musical collaboration of Luca Longobardi, retraces a century of Spanish painting, providing visitors with an intense artistic experience.
In 2019, the Carrières de Lumières will exhibit the work of the genius painter Vincent Van Gogh, who only achieved fame after his death. Spanning the 7,000 m² of the Carrières, a visual and musical production, created by Gianfranco Iannuzzi, Renato Gatto and Massimiliano Siccardi, with the musical collaboration of Luca Longobardi, retraces the intense life of the tormented artist, who, during the last ten years of his life, painted more than 2,000 pictures.